Course is a cut above

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Hayden Aldridge’s education journey at WITT Te Pūkenga illustrates the role local polytechs play in people’s lifelong learning. In the early nineties Hayden completed a New Zealand Certificate in Architectural Draughting to help with his career and now he’s back doing a short course to help him better manage the fruit trees on his lifestyle property.

“The beauty of a local polytech is that it has something to offer school leavers right through to people in work wanting to upskill or those who want to learn one particular skill, in this case how to prune fruit trees,” says WITT Te Pūkenga Horticulture Tutor Carl Freeman.

Hayden’s day job is sign writing and sign installation but his passion project is converting his new three-acre lifestyle block into a productive orchard.

“I want to turn it into something a bit more productive and a nice place to holiday," says Hayden.

Hayden’s creativity has come to the fore when it comes to note taking. His illustrations of how to prune apple and pear trees caught Carl’s eye.

“Hayden’s pruning illustrations are textbook worthy and are a great resource – they prove that a picture really does paint a thousand words,” says Carl.

The five-week Pruning and Training for Organic Primary Production programme covers a range of management and pruning techniques for various fruit crops. The course is run over five Monday evenings and two Saturdays.

“The course is a mix of classroom education on Mondays, supported by two day sessions where ākonga (students) get to put their new skills into practice on established trees at locations such as Shepherd’s Bush Community Orchard and Maple Park Apple Orchard,” says Carl.

As Carl makes a name for himself as a tutor, he remains best known for creating and running Freeman Farms market garden and his involvement in the local food economy in Taranaki.

This course is one of the horticulture programmes at WITT that supports the 2050 transition plan Branching Out to strengthen food and fibre capacity in Taranaki and work toward the region being a future food bowl.

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