Overgrown area given new lease of life by up-and-coming gardeners

The open space, at Baytree Gardens in North Prospect, has been rejuvenated by tenants on a Learn for Free woodland management course we organised in conjunction with Work Skills Training Academy (WSTA), Cornwall College.

The group of nine have now all passed the exam element of the four-week Register of Land-based Operatives (ROLO) course.

The practical part of the course saw them clear away the overgrown land, put in new fencing and dry stone walls, landscape it and build bird tables and planters.

The site, close to PCH homes, is the first site the college has used outside of Cornwall. 

Steve Maunder, of Cornwall College, said: “We find a project that could do with a little TLC and work in conjunction with landlords and housing associations and referral partners to provide opportunities for tenants to gain new skills and work together.

“Tenants have said that this has really brought the community together. It’s a win-win for landlords and PCH tenants are gaining skills and improving their prospects and there’s community engagement. The opportunities for the learners are widespread. 

“They can consider groundswork/gardening/landscape at holiday camps, hotels, etc or they can consider setting up their own businesses. It’s valuable experience. In partnership with PCH we intend to deliver more programmes like this.”

Ray Fitzharris, of Ernesettle, took part in the course with his partner. He found it invaluable.

He said: “I was a coach driver for 38 years but decided to have a life change. I started my own gardening business in October. I’ve liked everything about the course. The tutors have been brilliant, really helpful. There’s a joy in seeing a finished garden compared to what it was before.”

Nathan Lord, 21, of St Budeaux, added: “I heard about this course through the Jobcentre. I’d wanted to get into gardening. I do the garden at home. I’ve learned how to do fencing. I’d like to go self-employed and this qualification will help me.”

Resident Veronica Robinson thinks the area is looking better since the learners got hold of it.

She said: “I think it looks brilliant. I’ve lived here for 44 years. They’ve cleared so much away. There was a lot of rubbish around. I never wanted to come up here before.”

Tutor Matt Rundle, WSTA, Cornwall College, said: “We’ve had a good group and they’ve worked really well together in a safe, considered manner.”

PCH Training Coordinator, Rheinallt Huws, said: “Tenants worked really hard on this project and with guidance from Cornwall Collage have done a wonderful job. The area got tidied up and tenants got work experience and a useful qualification.

“We’re also very grateful to contractor Bradfords Building Supplies who contributed £400 worth of tools to the project.”