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GLAS Special: CAFRE – Educating the next generation of horticulturists

Greenmount College has revalidated the Foundation Degree and validated a new Honours degree top-up to the foundation degree, an important achievement for higher education in Northern Ireland

2022 has been another great year for horticulture at the campus, says David Dowd, senior lecturer at CAFRE



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21 July 2022

CAFRE’s Greenmount Campus has been delivering horticulture education for nearly one hundred years. 2022 has been another great year for horticulture at the campus.

New BSc in Horticulture

We revalidated our Foundation Degree through Ulster University and validated a new Honours degree top-up to the Foundation Degree. This was an important moment for Northern Ireland. The provision means that for the first time ever, someone can leave school in Northern Ireland, undertake a Foundation Degree full time or part time, and then move on to top up to a full Honours Degree in Horticulture. June 2023 will see the first cohort of Honours Degree students graduating and the horticulture industry will benefit from highly qualified graduates.

Student achievement

We are very grateful for the support offered by the horticulture industry, with numerous bursaries and work placement opportunities available for students. We had three bursary recipients graduating from the Foundation Degree this year with generous bursaries from Calor, Bulrush and id Verde. Our students were also awarded the Chartered Institute of Horticulture Pam Pointer Award and two David Colegrave Foundation scholarships in competition with student entries from other GB Land-based colleges.

Horticulture careers and events

Our annual Careers Event gave students the chance to learn about the opportunities for careers and academic progression that are open to them.

Students were addressed by Diarmuid Gavin who described his extraordinary journey as a celebrity garden designer and by Colin Kennedy, from Derry City and Strabane District Council, who presented their exciting vision for Acorn Farm, a community urban farm project.

After the Careers Event some students took the opportunity to volunteer to help construct Gavin’s extraordinary ‘Clockwork Garden’ in Antrim’s Castle Gardens, which was unveiled at Garden Show Ireland.

Meanwhile, at that same show, Further Education Horticulture students built a promotional show garden to celebrate and highlight CAFRE’s Worldskills competition success and Higher Education students were involved in presenting and selling plants that had been grow on the campus by students. These activities were excellent learning experiences and provided a nice change from the routine as the academic year was drawing to an end.

Also, Foundation Degree student Mary Anne Farenden, was selected to participate in the new series of Super Garden on RTE, which showcased five new budding garden designers who battle it out to secure a coveted show garden spot at Bord Bia’s ‘Bloom’. Mary Anne won the competition and offered fellow horticulture students at Greenmount Campus the opportunity to join her and experience the amazing Garden Show construction atmosphere in Bloom.

With the exciting opportunities Horticulture at CAFRE’s Greenmount Campus has to offer our Work-based, Further and Higher Education students, we look forward with confidence to the next 100 years. If you would like to find out more about our courses or visit the campus there will be a tour on 10 August 2022, which is available to book online at

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