A workers' cooperative growing food on London's edge in the Lea Valley

Current course opportunities

Learn something new in Autumn: see details of our short courses below:

Autumn’s learning in the garden

We are pleased to let you know that we have two Level 1 City and Guilds horticulture courses starting soon. Our courses have funded places for people who meet certain criteria including unemployed and receiving a state benefit such as Universal Credit, ESA or JSA.


Our address is Hawkwood Plant Nursery, 115 Hawkwood Crescent, North Chingford, E4 7UH. You can travel by train, bus, bicycle, on foot or by car, details here. The telephone number at the Nursery is 020 8524 4994.


We are following Covid-19 guidance and further details will be provided if you ask to attend a session or register on a course.

The two courses

Wednesday Work based Horticulture Level 1 Award (City and Guilds)

This course option has a fast track tutor learning at the beginning and end of each day and increasingly paced practice time with the larger working team in our organic gardens.

Dates: Starts Wednesday 20 October, ends 15 December 2021, 9 sessions.

Times: Wednesdays 10am – 4.30pm.

This Level 1 Award involves minimal classroom time with 9 weeks of guided horticultural practice rooted in organic market gardening theory. During this time you will practise food growing techniques and experience the realities of a productive horticultural work place. You will develop a work-book portfolio with reflective worksheets. This course takes place at our Hawkwood Nursery site. This is suitable for people who already have some experience or just a growing interest in organic food growing!


Tuesday Work-based Horticulture Level 1 Award (City and Guilds)

This is open to people eligible for funded places. It is a course option with more supported group work and structured learning time. It is also designed around school pick-up requirements – if the exact times don’t work for you, please talk to us.

Dates: Starts Tuesday 12 October 2021, ends Tuesday 14 December 2021 (no class 26 October which is half term).

Times: Tuesdays 9.45am – 2.45 pm (9 sessions), plus two Wednesday slots (10.30am – 1.30pm) during the course. Exact dates to be agreed when the course starts.

This Level 1 Award is aimed at those who learn best when doing something in practice, over and over again with the opportunity for consistency of support. Over 9 sessions, the main focus is guided gardening activity where basic skills can be learnt and practiced. It is designed to gradually build confidence and independence in the working horticultural environment. Small groups allow learners to progress at their own pace and can cater for specific learning needs. Working towards a 2 day a week commitment, allows increased achievement and pace of work linked to horticultural practice. This course is designed to support those developing work-ready confidence in horticulture and other areas.

Learners will cover core units for organic horticulture activity at this time. Each session will involve some background information shared in a small group tutorial, an opportunity to develop skills and then carry out practical work to improve skills and repeat learning. As well as practical gardening skills, it builds work-related abilities linked to commitment and timekeeping, decision making and team working.

Our Level 2 courses starting this autumn are now all full, but described below for info. Do check back here for updates in Spring 2022 for next year’s courses.

Horticulture Level 2: Extended Certificate (City and Guilds)

Dates: October 2021 – July 2022 FULLY BOOKED

Times: 10.30am – 4.30pm

This 31 week intensive course is for those who are already gardening and who want a more theoretical base to develop their gardening practice. It interests those keen to commit more time to gardening work at a personal and (potential) employment level. Learning includes units on understanding soil science, plant science, techniques in organic horticulture and fruit and vegetable production by organic methods. This course demands commitment to both learning and self-study; and delivers a lot in terms of academic learning and confidence in the detail of gardening practice. The theory learnt in the classroom and in the 3-6 hours of home-study/research/essay writing per week, is backed up by practical tasks and assessments in the Hawkwood vegetable and fruit gardens.

Note: A City & Guilds Level 1 horticulture qualification or equivalent experience are considered essential entry requirements for this Level 2 course. An Initial Assessment will be required before enrollment can take place.


Practical Horticulture Skills, Level 2 Certificate (City and Guilds)

Dates: October 2021 – May 2022 FULLY BOOKED

Times: 10.30am – 1.30pm

This course is delivered in 26 sessions over 37 weeks. Full list of session dates available with the course information sheet.

This ‘practice’ based course equips the production horticulturalist with the essential know-how and techniques to assess, prepare and maintain gardens at a range of scales. Study units include: prepare for planting; techniques for plant care; training and pruning in fruit production; stem cutting propagation; pedestrian controlled rotary cultivation; and identifying plants by botanical names. You will be assessed at the Hawkwood site during course hours and this includes practical assessment gardening tasks and accompanying written worksheets. Home study will support your gardening practice and worksheets.

Note: A City & Guilds Level 1 horticulture qualification or equivalent experience are considered essential entry requirements for this Level 2 course. An Initial Assessment will required before enrollment can take place.