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Grow your horticulture career at CAFRE

Garden designer Diarmuid Gavin with Paul Mooney, head of horticulture, CAFRE and students Luke Donald and Audrey Tam at Greenmount Campus.

Students heard from a range of excellent industry speakers at the careers event



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2 June 2022

Horticulture students at the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) in Antrim, Northern Ireland heard from a range of excellent industry speakers at the annual Horticulture Careers event held at Greenmount Campus.

Opening the careers forum, head of the horticulture branch, Paul Mooney provided inspiring words about the opportunities a career in horticulture can present. Mooney expressed confidence in the great opportunities within the industry for students who are enthusiastic and qualified in horticulture. He encouraged students to: “Put yourself out there to secure your dream job.”

The first guest speaker was international garden designer, Diarmuid Gavin. Gavin, a frequent visitor to Greenmount, began by sharing his love for the horticultural industry. Gavin told students: “There is no better place to be, than working in the Horticulture industry.”

Gavin then reflected on his past experiences, the chances he took and how he came to be a successful Garden Designer. Gavin discussed how his designs are inspired, the works he has completed and his future plans.

One of Gavin’s most recent projects was in Antrim Castle Gardens, where he created a fun, mechanical garden, similar to one seen at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

Horticulture students from CAFRE assisted with the construction and planting of the garden, which was showcased for the first time at the Garden Show Ireland in May 2022.

The garden designer and television personality advised his enthusiastic audience: “To make the most of opportunities, you are in a great college here with great facilities … totally primed to follow your own dreams.”

Greenspace manager for Derry and Strabane District Council, Colin Kennedy then spoke to the group about plans for Acorn Farm. Acorn Farm is an exciting and innovative project to develop a high quality, urban food growing hub in Derry/Londonderry. Kennedy spoke of how “horticulture is a real vocation. It offers a pathway, which if you are committed, will offer great personal rewards.”

The final speaker of the afternoon was Adam Ferguson, a CAFRE graduate, who worked as the Keeper of the Walled Garden at Hillsborough Castle. Ferguson has recently joined the horticulture teaching team at Greenmount Campus. Ferguson spoke of his experiences as a CAFRE student. Ferguson strongly encouraged students to get involved in competition work to: “Boost their technical skills, undergo fantastic personal development and demonstrate to employers the real value of your achievements.”

Ferguson’s enthusiasm and experience was as an inspiration to students to follow in his footsteps. Adam concluded that students should: “Never underestimate the opportunities that are available in the horticulture sector and even when you are a student.”

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