Horticulture program (is it worth it?)

Discussion in 'General chat' started by PaleoC, May 13, 2008.

  1. PaleoC

    PaleoC Guest

    I was wondering what the general opinion on this forum is in regards to taking horticulture classes in university. Is it beneficial in what it teaches or is it the opposite to what Permaculture teaches.

    I ask because I am new to gardening and I think there could be lots of beneficial things I could learn but also lots of things that would drive me nuts, like their view on weeds, grass, chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and landscaping in general. Would I be better served to learn from books, internet, and my own successes and failures in the garden? Perhaps even WWOOFing for a year would even be better than school. It would be cheaper.

    My plan is to take my PDC and read a lot of books on Permaculture and related topics and then buy land and try to live off it. Do I really need a horticulture class for this? My gf says take the course but my gut feeling as of now tells me it is not for me. I do not want to work in the field (traditional landscaper, greenhouse, nursery) for someone else. I kind of see it as a waste of a year and $5000.

    Please help me out and share your thoughts because I have to talk to the head of the horticulture department soon if I want in.

    Thanks

    Colin
     
  2. thepoolroom

    thepoolroom Junior Member

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    Re: Horticulture program (is it worth it?)

    Obviously only you can make the final decision, but here's some stuff to think about...

    Pros:
    - it'd give you a qualification recognised by mainstream employers
    - could be good to fall back on, or use for income while getting your farm off the ground
    - would give you a better understanding of the problems with traditional horticulture that permaculture is trying to solve
    - gives you some contacts within the horticulture industry
    - you may meet others with similar concerns and aspirations to your own
    - may give you influence into the mainstream to help improve general horticultural practices
    - if you want to make money from permaculture, it'd give you insight into how the industry operates and what impediments you're going to have to deal with
    - there are undoubtedly going to be some things you'll learn that are compatible with permaculture
    - maybe you're making some assumptions about general horticulture, and it'll turn out to be better than you expect
    - would introduce you to stuff like Australian Standards etc that you might later need to deal with
    - would cement your own views on things, even if you disagree with much of what they teach
    - would develop your scientific method, work practices, discipline, observation skills, people skills, etc that would help in your own future endeavours
    - keeps GF happy :)

    Cons:
    - sets back your plans by a year
    - costs $5,000 (maybe setting your plans back financially as well?)
    - might ultimately prove to be useless to you
    - will take some effort and commitment
    - could be very frustrating if you're philosophically opposed to much/most of what they teach
    - you might become brainwashed and give up on permaculture
    - you might get a job and be seduced by the money, and distracted from your permaculture goals

    Hope this helps!
     
  3. derekh

    derekh Junior Member

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    Re: Horticulture program (is it worth it?)

    I have been at TAFE doing Horticulture for 6 years and while I haven't done a PDC I am still interested in all things Permie.

    While I have needed to complete subjects on chemical application, pest and disease control I have found having a permie attitude provides great points of discussion and most times general agreement with the class and teachers. Most pest and disease subjects cover organic and Integrated Pest Management methods of control which sits very nicely with companion planting. You also learn propogation techniques from seed, cuttings and grafting, soil testing, garden design, tree planting, irrigation, plant maintenance and I'm even doing Bush Revegetation this semester.

    I have also completed Cert III Landscape Construction which has been invaluable for my confidence to build a pergola, raised garden beds, herb spiral, chicken tractor, aquaponics system, install 14,500 litre rainwater tank, etc. These construction skills were also useful when I attended a Strawbale Construction course and we built a 16m * 10m structure. I also got my Bobcat/Skidsteer and Forklift license from one subject.

    Spreading the cost over several years reduces the financial burden, $200 per semester for me.

    TAFE is a great experience for me and keeps me sane after working in a highrise office as a software developer.

    cheers
    Derek
     
  4. PaleoC

    PaleoC Guest

    Re: Horticulture program (is it worth it?)

    WOW!!! Thanks for the great replies people. You have given me a lot to think about. I think I am now leaning towards taking the course. We will see if the PDC I am going to next weekend changes my opinion.

    Thanks

    Colin
     
  5. Mrs Parker-Bowles

    Mrs Parker-Bowles Junior Member

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    Hi Colin,

    Did you decide to enrol in a horticulture program in the end?

    For what it's worth, I agree wholeheartedly with Derek. My experience was quite similar. In fact, sustainable horticultural practices are an important subject in the curriculum these days. Horticulture programs are an excellent platform for people who want to work in Permaculture. It is very important to learn about all the "bad things" associated with the horticulture industry along with the good. Having been through one myself I would suggest that almost everyone who has a serious interest in permaculture would benefit from a horticulture program.

    Regardeners,

    Mrs Parker-Bowles
     

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