Growing organically - WITT offers new scholarships

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New scholarships offered by WITT will fund the study of organic produce growing with the aim to transform the food landscape in Taranaki.

Five scholarships, valued at $3000 each, are available for people interested in learning about organic primary production. The financial support for organics training is a welcome boost on the path to transforming Taranaki into a future food bowl, says the course tutor Carl Freeman.

The scholarships came about through a partnership with the Bashford Nichols Trust and the Bishop’s Action Foundation to fund scholarships for the Level 4 New Zealand Certificate in Organic primary Production.

Carl says WITT is proud to be a leader in teaching knowledge and skills that “contribute to more diverse food production, and that will help to position Taranaki as a future food bowl.”

He says the course, which is one day a week on Thursdays for 30 weeks, is for anyone seeking a new direction and lifestyle, whether to fulfil personal goals with their own garden, or with business aspirations in the science of organic growing for community or commercial gardening.

The course covers soil management and how crop requirements can be satisfied organically, whilst actively producing vegetables, fruit, and herbs over a full growing year. 

“Our region already has a rich horticultural history,” he says, referencing Duncan and Davies nursery – once New Zealand’s largest, founded in the late 1800s - and other nurseries, as well as commercial berry, Kiwi fruit and avocado production, and multiple market gardens.

Australian-born Carl is well-known in Taranaki for his enterprising urban and community agricultural projects and his leadership and expertise in encouraging local food production and farmers’ markets.

He is chairperson of the Taranaki Farmers Market Trust, which has just been shortlisted as a finalist for the OrganicsNZ Farmers Market of the Year award.

The scholarships will offer new opportunities to anyone interested in sustainable growing methods and systems, Carl says.

Michelle Bauer,  Project Manager at the Regional Development Agency, Te Puna Umanga Venture Taranaki, says “Among the high-value medicinal crops identified and being trialled by the Branching Out project, our market research has indicated that organic plant material is likely to command a premium. Knowledge of organic crop production will therefore be an advantage for those wishing to engage in this opportunity.”

The deadline to apply for a scholarship is May 31.  For more info, contact:

Find out more about primary production, horticulture, and organic growing courses at WITT here.

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