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

Current course opportunities

Courses in 2017: we offer a range of interesting and ‘applied’ learning opportunities at our urban food growing site – and support courses taking place elsewhere in Waltham Forest too. New courses will be added periodically so check back here for the latest details.

Courses coming up:

  • Sustainable Beekeeping weekend courseSaturday 8th July Sunday 9th July, 10:00 am 5:30 pm
    Hawkwood Nursery

    This course is for anyone from beginners to experienced beekeepers who are interested in learning about more sustainable methods of beekeeping.


Food Growing Skills Level 1 Award City and Guilds

Start date: Friday 24 March 2017 for 7 weeks, 10.30-4.30 (no class on Friday 14 April)

Running in partnership with Waltham Forest Adult Learning Service

This course provides an opportunity to achieve an accredited gardening qualification through practical learning. It is designed to build basic and technical skills in the classroom then support this with demonstration practical tasks in Organiclea’s market garden at Hawkwood. It would suit anyone who is thinking about working as a gardener or who wants to enhance their food growing knowledge for the home environment.

VENUE: Hawkwood Plant Nursery, E4 7UH (Directions here)

COSTS: £126.00 (Standard fee) / £37.80 (Discounted fee) + FOR BOTH: £35.00 (accred fee) & £5.00 (materials fee) / FREE FOR THOSE ON JOBSEEKING BENEFITS

TO BOOK: Call Adult Learning Service on 020 8496 2974 and quote course code: HNG8478-5TA


Garden Maintenance Skills, Level 1 City and Guilds Award

Start date: Saturday 11 March 2017 for 10 weeks, 10am-1pm

Based at the Adult Learning site in Leytonstone, you will gain skills in plant care, general plant identification techniques, ornamental designs and maintenance especially linked to the spring-summer garden with basic amenity care such as lawns. All theoretical work is backed up by practice in a small outdoor learning garden at the venue and at a local Park. Suitable for those wishing to improve their general gardening knowledge and confidence. It is a very good foundation for the Garden Maintenance Level 2 Award that follows on from it. The tutor can support you to apply for this progression opportunity.

Venue: Leytonstone Learning Link, 23-25 North Birbeck Road, Leytonstone. E11 4JF

COSTS: £114.00 (Standard fee) / £34.20 (Discounted fee) + FOR BOTH: £35.00 (accred fee) & £5.00 (materials fee) / FREE FOR THOSE ON JOBSEEKING BENEFITS

TO BOOK: Call Adult Learning Service on 020 8496 2974 and quote course code: LLG8502-6TA


Two day workshop: Getting Started on your allotment

Sunday 26 February and 26 March, 10.30-1.30

VENUE: Hawkwood Plant Nursery, 115 Hawkwood Crescent, Chingford. E4 7UH

This two day gardening course is developed to offer quick direction for those just starting out on an allotment, and is also suitable for anyone wanting a quick introduction to organic food growing for their own back gardens. It is a partnership with Waltham Forest Adult Learning Service running at OrganicLea’s food growing site.

COSTS: £30.00 (std fee) / £15.00 (discounted fee )

TO BOOK: Call Adult Learning Service on 020 8496 2974 and quote course code: HNG8538-7TI


Looking ahead:

We are likely to continue to offer Level 2 City and Guilds opportunities starting in Autumn and Winter 2017 at Organiclea’s Hawkwood site. A description of these courses for 2016 are below. Please email clare[at]organiclea.org.uk if you would like to be informed of application process as soon as course funding is confirmed by May 2016.


  1. Horticulture, Level 2 Extended Certificate (City and Guilds)

This 28 week intensive and highly recommended course is for those who are already gardening and who want a more theoretical base to develop their gardening practice. It has been running in partnership with Organiclea since 2007 and 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 home-study/research/essay writing, is backed up by practical assessments in the Hawkwood vegetable and fruit gardens.

Start date: late September for 28 weeks (to May 2018. Term time only); Time: 10-4.30

Fees in 2016 were: £504.00 (std) / £151.00 (Discounted fee) + £90.00 accreditation fee for BOTH / FREE for Jobseekers


  1. Diploma in Practical Horticulture Skills (Level 2 work-based qualification)

This course offers accredited learning for those wanting to learn within fixed term work or volunteer employment. The commitment is to BOTH guided learning dates at the Hawkwood Plant Nursery, two Thursdays a month; ALONGSIDE, 8 hours a week in work placement (paid or voluntary) at horticultural site/s. Taught sessions will equip the working horticulturalist with essential know-how to Level 2 standard including range of topics that 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. Your work placement will allow you to be assessed at working site and offer the opportunity to embed this learning in routine gardening practice backed up by reflective work-book, reading and work-based learning support process.

In 2016 details were: Start date: early December 2016 completing in July 2017. Fees in 2016: £307.00 (std) / £92.00 (Discounted fee) + £46.00 accreditation fee for BOTH / FREE for Jobseekers



Course fee guide

We endeavour to make our courses as accessible as we can by offering a sliding scale. Applicability is described below (separate fee structure applies to accredited courses run with Adult Learning Service).

  • The highest fee is for those on an income over £15,000 per year
  • The second fee is for those on an income below £15,000 per year
  • The third fee is a full concession for anyone with savings less than £3000 and receiving any of the following benefits:
    • Income Support
    • Employment and Support Allowance (income related)
    • Employment and Support Allowance (contributions based) – IF there is no other household income
    • Jobseekers Allowance (income based)
    • Jobseekers Allowance (contributions based) – IF there is no other household income
    • Pension Credit with Guarantee Credit
    • FULL Housing Benefits /Council Tax Benefits
    • Asylum Support: People in receipt of asylum support or who have no recourse to public funds, and no other household income.

Course fees are used to cover tutor costs, materials used and premises running costs. Administration is carried out on a voluntary basis by a number of people.

Refund policy

In order to administer courses effectively we only make confirmed course bookings when we have received full payment (or deposit in the case of permaculture design course). We do understand that sometimes people’s plans change so we are able to offer refunds on the following basis, which helps us to ensure that the costs of putting on courses are covered and that opportunities to attend are maximised.

* If you cancel a booking more than 2 weeks (one month for the permaculture design course) prior to the start of a course we will refund your fees, less a £10 administration charge. Refunds must be requested on cancellation, via courses[at]organiclea.org.uk or calling 020 8524 4994.

* If you cancel your booking less than 2 weeks prior to the course/event we will not normally make refunds. However if the cancellation is due to a medical condition, bereavement or other exceptional circumstances we will normally refund fees provided that you let us know before the start of the course, again any refunds will be less a £10 administration charge.

* If you do not attend the course without having contacted us beforehand, we are unable to make any refund.

* We reserve the right to cancel courses – a full refund will be made in these circumstances.

Past courses

Course registration is through Organiclea (except where stated otherwise) – use our online registration form. For details of concessions see our course fee guide. Email courses[at]organiclea.org.uk for queries (this email is not checked daily).

City and Guilds Level 1 and 2 Certificate in Gardening: we run these courses regularly in conjunction with Waltham Forest Adult Learning service. Check their website for current gardening course dates and registration. If you require further information call 020 8524 4994 or email courses[at]organiclea.org.uk