A Letterkenny man who recently trained in horticulture has been happily using his skills to help the gardening community during the Covid-19 crisis.
Anthony Murphy (27) is part of a busy team at Homeland Retail Stores who are operating essential services to cater to customers at this time.
Having been unemployed for some time, Anthony counts himself fortunate to have work during this period of uncertainty.
His employment was a direct result of work experience he completed on a Level 5 Horticulture course with Donegal ETB’s Further Education and Training (FET) Service.
Anthony’s journey began last year, when he applied for the Horticulture course at Donegal ETB’s Letterkenny Training Centre. His goal was to learn new skills and meet new people, but when the course began his interest in horticulture, plants, garden design and soil science really took root.
“I never liked the idea of being locked up in an office staring at a computer. I prefer being outside and working with my hands, so when I went to Donegal ETB’s FET Fair and found the course, I signed up,” he said.
Anthony didn’t have any prior experience in gardening, although he says he picked up interest from his mother, who is always in the garden.
The Horticulture course is a science-based programme with a mix of hands-on learning and theory. Students gain a QQI Level 5 Major Award after completing the year-long course.
Anthony was particularly impressed by the facilities available for students.
“It was amazing to see the land we’d be working with and the tools and polytunnels are all pretty impressive and they are always expanding. In the first few weeks you are planting while the weather is good. In the off-season you are learning the science of plants and the binomial system for naming plants,” Anthony explained.
A highlight for the group is harvesting time – when they get to see the fruits of their labour.
Another valuable element of this course, Anthony said, is the work practice. “Work experience lets you bring your skills out into a business. When you are in the course it’s an academic process but the work experience allowed me to use everything I’ve learned in a retail world.”
Anthony’s work experience at Homeland led him to be offered part-time employment prior to the coronavirus pandemic. Now, it’s all hands on deck as they keep up their quality customer service through deliveries and emergency call-outs.
The Horticulture course also has a ‘Start Your Own Business’ module to set students up with the skills to work independently. Other avenues of employment lie in harvesting, landscaping, garden design and community gardening.
“A lot of people want their own polytunnels now to grow their own food, they are looking for people to build it for them and that’s where our skills can come in,” Anthony said.
According to Anthony, you can work magic on any plant or food product to get it to grow well. It’s all about the education, and he gained a wealth of knowledge from the ETB’s Horticulture Instructor Gareth Austin.
Anthony said: “I enjoyed learning about the science of plants, why they grow and what helps them grow, being able to judge from a glance at a plant and know what is wrong with it, learning about leaf discolouration and soil toxicity. It’s a really good skill to have and it gets you out of the house.
“I would really recommend this course. It’s a good experience, you get a wealth of knowledge and it’s a good way to get into work. The end goal for me was to find work, and now that I have the job I’m set-up here. During these times it’s good to have work.”
If you would like to grow your skills in Horticulture, why not consider applying for Donegal ETB’s next full-time Level 5 course in Letterkenny by visiting the course page at https://www.fetchcourses.ie/course/finder?sfcw-courseId=291232
A part-time Level 3 Employability Skills course which also has a focus on Horticulture is available in Stranorlar – visit the course page at https://www.fetchcourses.ie/course/finder?sfcw-courseId=288184
Due to the current COVID-19 crisis, the start dates of courses are subject to change.
For more information, contact Donegal ETB by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
This specific skills training is co-funded by the Government of Ireland and the European Social Fund as part of the ESF Programme for Employability, Inclusion and Learning (PEIL) 2014-2020.Tags: