Organic Horticulture course now running

By Helen Martin

In keeping with the Helensville District Health Trust’s aim to improve the health and well-being of the wider community, education in various forms is one of the key activities taking place at Te Whare Oranga ô Parakai. One excellent example is the 36-week Go Organic course held there on Tuesdays from mid-February.
Go Organic is a National Level 2 Horticulture and Organic Level 3 Horticulture qualification, well recognised within the horticulture Industry. Tutor Julie-Anna Child (Jules) is a biological artist and keen beekeeper living locally in Upper Waiwera. An experienced teacher of 28 years, Jules runs ‘A New Leaf’, a company specialising in seeds for beneficial insects and bees to support bee and plant health naturally. With the passion to promote ways of achieving balanced, diverse cropping ecosystems by working with Nature rather than against her, Jules says that knowledge gained from the course helps us support the health of our gardens, livestock, crops and ourselves from the ground up, naturally.
Jules explains: “Within the course we look at integrated pest management and how to build living soils, and resilient cropping ecosystems for ourselves, and our plants, insects, birds, animals and domesticated livestock. Course work takes about 5 hours weekly to complete at home. The course material beautifully summarises current thinking in Organic Horticulture; so it makes for interesting reading. Much of the course work provides a plan for your land that you can put into action immediately. You’ll develop a Permaculture plan for improving your site, and plan plantings to bring in diverse insects and birds to support healthy crops and animals naturally. We look at how to choose a great bit of land, revegetation, integrated pest management and protecting your site and making it more resilient. We go on three field trips and have a good balance of theory and practice. You will be taught how to make fertilisers from natural materials, build aerobic composts and worm farms competently, and most importantly how to assess if your soil is doing well and how to improve it naturally.”
A strong selling point is that, with workers in the Organic Horticulture industry in demand, the course equips people to go straight into work in a nursery or organic operation.  Graduates are also equipped to start their own small business or develop their own consultancy, products or services. “That’s where Te Whare Orangaô Parakai’s’Hot Desk’ business incubator for people starting their own company comes in,” says Jules.
For those who missed the start date it’s not too late to get into this year’s course, as Jules will do a catch-up session to bring you up to speed. If you’re interested contact Te Whare Orangaô Parakai: 420 9983 or info@thrivekaipara.org.nz

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