Hadlow College hosts horticulture regional finals

Hadlow College hosts horticulture regional finals: Excitement blossomed at Hadlow College recently as green-fingered enthusiasts from across the South-East battled it out to advance to the national finals of a prestigious competition.

The College hosted the regional finals of the Young Horticulturist of the Year competition. Run by the Chartered Institute of Horticulture, the competition offers a platform for budding horticulturalists to showcase their expertise and connect with fellow enthusiasts from the UK and Ireland

Hadlow College hosts horticulture regional finals

Hadlow College hosts horticulture regional finals

The South-East Regional Final is the second stage of the competition. The eight competitors taking part had already made it through the first heat, an online test with 40 questions on topics covering areas such as plant identification, soils, plant maintenance, turf, propagation and garden history.

The Regional Final saw the competitors being asked questions by an adjudication panel, before a plant identification and pest round took place with the fastest person to buzz in getting the chance to answer and score points.

The winning contestant went through to the Grand Final, which is being held in May. Here the overall winner receives the £2,500 Percy Thrower Travel Bursary, provided by the Shropshire Horticultural Society & the Percy Thrower Trust, to fund a horticultural trip anywhere in the world. Second place goes home with £950, third place with £550 and the rest of the runners up all receive £200.

Each of the finalists is also awarded membership to the Chartered Institute of Horticulture.

Previous winners have visited Borneo, China, New Zealand, South Africa, the Himalayas, and the Galapagos Islands to name just a few!

During the event the College’s cutting-edge glasshouse, where a tomato crop is being grown in partnership with Thanet Earth, was showcased. The crop is fully installed for the season ahead and contestants and supporters on the night were able to learn more about the growing requirements, hydroponics, nutrient feeds as well as light levels and biosecurity.

Hadlow College Senior Horticulture Skills Trainer Gareth Batts, who was on the adjudication panel, was delighted with how the evening went, saying: “I am pleased that Hadlow were able to support this competition in holding the regional finals. We were due to hold it in 2020 but due to COVID this had to be postponed. During the event it was great to showcase the horticulture opportunities that we offer at Hadlow and to give tours to the wider industry showing the collaborative projects that we are undertaking. The gardens were open for visitors to explore and discussions regarding our new orchard took place.

As a trainer I was able to showcase what our horticulture students do at Hadlow and I was able to network and create further links with the industry to benefit the students, visits to other gardens and speakers to the college are in the pipeline because of the event.”

“The apprenticeship students were involved with the setting up of the event as well as creating information posters for the visitors to see. It has helped build their industry knowledge, team working and communication skills, all essential parts of the apprenticeship. We look forward to having the opportunity again in the future to hold this event and hopefully next year a Hadlow student will make it through to the regionals.”

Hadlow College offers a number of horticulture courses, with students benefitting from first class facilities such as the glasshouses and also a ‘robotic orchard and vineyard’ which demonstrates the latest technology including automated AI management systems, a state-of-the-art irrigation, fertigation and frost protection system and automated fruit picking.

If you are interested in studying the subject at Hadlow College, visit the Horticulture subject page of the College website.

You can find out more about the Young Horticulturist of the Year competition on the Chartered Institute of Horticulture website.

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