The bright idea of Land Based Training student Renee Hodson bursts into full flower this Sunday as Te Kūiti gets its own locally-based part time horticultural training course.
Renee approached the Whanganui–based training centre some months back with an idea to benefit both local students and the community.
She believed if the Maniapoto Maara Kai in Te Kūiti could be the venue for practical training, then the whole community would gain from the additional hands on deck growing food for the foodbanks and horticulture students would no longer have to travel to other centres.
Land Based Training’s regional operations manager Linda Weterman was keen, as was Maniapoto Maara Kai Trust and a local tutor. Now it’s all go for a horticultural qualification at home.
The graduates will gain theoretical knowledge of plants, nursery production, growing systems and environments, together with practical capability across a range of horticultural sectors. The Level 3 course into the Level 4 qualification in sustainable primary production, a future direction that lights the fire of both local tutor Jason MacKenzie and student and maara kai manager Michelle Wi.
Jason, who is from Piopio, was groundsman at Te Kūiti Primary School until January this year, simultaneously managing a small group of students in maintaining the school gardens and doing grow projects. He now operates a small property maintenance business from his 10-acre lifestyle block in Piopio, with clients in Te Kūiti, Piopio and Ōtorohanga.
Getting your hands dirty is an essential life skill, he said.
The part-time study is a roughly 50/50 mix of theory and practice with applications in the present and job options in the future, working in park management and nurseries for example. The format is also perfect for lifestyle block owners, with in class time every second Sunday and nine hours of practical a week to fit in around other life commitments.
It covers what you need to know about management of land, and gives the skills for food security, he said.
“I’ve just put in 17 citrus trees – I also have a dozen trees in the house orchard and 36 trees in an apple cider orchard. [together with] 100m of veggie gardens, it feeds me and the kids.”
The course runs from this Sunday until the middle of next year. Venue for the class-based portion of the course is the old camping ground building – laptops can be provided on enrolment – and most of the practicals will be held at the maara kai.
There are still places available for new enrolments.
– Vonny Fowler, King Country News