Students grow and blossom at Greenmount Campus

Date published: 03 November 2023

The College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) hosted family, friends and industry guests to celebrate Further Education Horticulture and Floristry course graduations at a ceremony at Greenmount Campus, Antrim.

In his address to students, Martin McKendry, CAFRE Director said: “Through our education, knowledge transfer and innovation programmes at CAFRE, we seek to support people entering and working within the land-based sectors. As you develop your career remain open minded and be receptive to developing yourself and enhancing your skills and qualifications …

“Remember it is those who continue to learn and develop who will distinguish themselves from their peers.”

Lori Hartman, Senior Lecturer delivered the Floristry and Horticulture education report, noting that 29 full-time and 89 part-time students were receiving awards. Speaking at the event Ms Hartman commented:

“Today, we celebrate the achievements of CAFRE’s Floristry and Horticulture students. Our Horticulture graduates embark on a career offering a lifelong adventure with the natural environment, the plants we find within it and the connections we can make to it. Similarly in Floristry, where the use of natural elements creates a visual celebration, as demonstrated through designs constructed by students for graduation today.”

On highlighting some achievements Ms Hartman noted CAFRE has a long-established success rate with competitions. “Amongst our Floristry graduates, Carly Gilmore was a runner up for the National Finals of WorldSkills UK, and in November of this year Edel Michael will compete in the National Finals in Manchester along with a 2020 CAFRE Floristry graduate. Additionally, Carly along with Level 2 graduate and current Level 3 student Grace Thompson attended the Interflora World Cup, placing third for their creation.”

CAFRE strives to develop sought-after Greenkeepers, landscapers and horticulturalists, through a range of work-based courses providing students the opportunity to learn while they work in the industry. In partnership with Golf Ireland, three Level 2 Greenkeeping Cadets were supported with financial bursaries. These graduates include Ashleigh Larkin who has successfully gained employment at Royal Portrush Golf Club and progressed on to the Level 3 Work-based programme.

Remarking on the success of full-time Horticulture students Ms Hartman made mention to: “Aimee Copeland, who graduates from the Level 3 Advanced Technical Extended Diploma in Horticulture course is among the UK top achievers in this programme, achieving three Distinction stars. Anna McLoughlin achieved second place in the WorldSkills UK National finals in Edinburgh, and will compete again in November, accompanied by Aimee and a current Level 3 student.”

Competition work opens doors for students and Anna had the opportunity to work with world class garden designers – Mark Gregory and Diarmuid Gavin – at the Chelsea Flower Show and the Coronation Garden in Newtownabbey respectively.

In concluding Ms Hartman said: “I know that I speak for my colleagues when I say we are immensely proud of ALL the horticulture and floristry graduates. As the saying goes from little acorns mighty oaks grow!”

For information on Further Education courses available at CAFRE visit the CAFRE website to discover A-Level alternative study routes or courses to help you secure a job in the Floristry and Horticulture sectors.


Notes to editors: 

  1. Photo caption - Lois Neely (Broughshane) was awarded with the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Prize for top student on Level 3 Advanced Technical Diploma in Floristry course. Lois is congratulated by Martin McKendry (CAFRE Director) and Anne-Marie Grant (Floristry Lecturer, CAFRE).
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