Growing careers at CAFRE Greenmount Campus

Date published: 26 February 2024

The College of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) enjoys close connections with the horticulture sector.

Industry experts attended a Careers Panel discussion and provided inspiration to Floristry and Horticulture students studying at Greenmount Campus, Antrim.

David Dowd, Head of Horticulture at CAFRE, warmly welcomed Aaron Jamison, a Greenmount Campus graduate, back to the college. Aaron, a former Level 3 Horticulture student, has paved his way to success. Through studying at CAFRE he participated in the EuroSkills Landscape Gardening finals in Leipzig, Germany, where he won a Medallion of Excellence.

Aaron shared his incredible experiences and the opportunities that studying Horticulture had provided him. Notably, Aaron has collaborated with Catherine McDonald on award-winning gardens for prestigious Chelsea Flower Show, and built gardens at Tatton Park, and the Malvern Flower Show. Aaron's company, Lawn and Border Landscapes, specialises in crafting unique outdoor spaces. Emphasising the importance of customer communication, Aaron advised students to: “Closely engage with their clients to ensure your creations align with their expectations and requirements.”

Neil Porteous took to the podium to impart his abundant experiences with the students. Born in India, Neil, an enthusiastic traveller, has explored numerous destinations worldwide during his 45-year career in horticulture. He fondly recounted his early passion for cultivation, recalling how he gathered seeds with his mother and planted vegetables alongside his grandfather. While in school, Neil was encouraged to pursue a hands-on profession and a fruitful career in horticulture ensued. Neil shared captivating tales of expeditions with fellow horticulturists, gathering seeds to introduce plants in Britain. He told of his passion for research and his desire to see pineapple crops growing in Ireland as they did in the 1836! Neil now finds himself in a rewarding role as a Historic Gardens Consultant. He has been entrusted with the care of over 120 gardens and mentoring Gardeners and enjoys consulting and sharing his passion for plants.

Dr Liz Barron-Majerik MBE, MICFor made a journey from Scotland to join the panel discussing the exciting opportunities within the land-based sector. As a Director at Lantra, Liz captivated the audience with her enthusiasm for the industry. Using seeds and plant growth as a metaphor for career development, Liz inspired students to focus on their personal growth. Seeds need time to establish, “but in life you need to make time, for you” advised Liz. Additional tips she shared were to create occasions to make you happy, consider relocation, prune back on activities to help you flourish, find a healthy balance, avoid pests and distractions, and as you reap rewards share your experiences and knowledge with others.

All of speakers emphasised the importance of setting your sights on your goals, making a plan to achieve them, and never giving up. The students were encouraged to ask questions and keep learning from experiences to help grow their careers.

James Crawford, Senior Lecturer at CAFRE extended a sincere thanks to all of the speakers for providing an entertaining and educational discussion. The panellists each gave open accounts of their careers and demonstrated to CAFRE’s Floristry and Horticulture students that success can be achieved if you have a clear path to follow.

Greenmount Campus, Antrim offers Horticulture courses from Level 2 through to BSc (Honours) Degree level. The campus is hosting an Open Day on Wednesday 10th April, book to attend via the events section of the CAFRE website.

For further information on courses and how to apply for a course starting in September 2024, visit our website.

Notes to editors: 

  1. Photo caption: Aaron Jamison (CAFRE Graduate and Owner of Lawn and Border Landscapes Crossgar), Dr Liz Barron-Majerik MBE MICFor (Director Lantra Scotland) and Neil Porteous (National Trust Consultant) were welcomed as speakers at the Opportunities in Horticulture Careers Day, by James Crawford (Senior Lecturer) and David Dowd (Head of Horticulture) at CAFRE Greenmount Campus.
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