Green-fingered students get chance to grow plants for the professionals

PUBLISHED: 06:43 22 March 2020

From left, Viv Gillespie (principal of Suffolk Rural), Peter Freeman (Thompson and Morgan) and Lorna Oakley (Suffolk Rural horticultural technician)  Picture: JOHN NICE

From left, Viv Gillespie (principal of Suffolk Rural), Peter Freeman (Thompson and Morgan) and Lorna Oakley (Suffolk Rural horticultural technician) Picture: JOHN NICE

John Nice

A land-based college has joined forces with one of the world’s largest garden plant and seed companies to create a growing partnership.

Students at Otley-based Suffolk Rural – an arm of Suffolk New College – are growing a selection of plants from seed on behalf of Ipswich-based Thompson & Morgan.

They have already grown plants destined for the Chelsea Flower Show that have been shown on the QVC shopping channel.

Viv Gillespie, principal of Suffolk New College and Suffolk Rural, said it was an exciting link-up.

“Suffolk New College has an excellent track record of creating positive links with industries and this is a major priority for us moving forward in terms of Suffolk Rural,” she said.

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“We are delighted to be working with Thompson & Morgan as we are both invested in ensuring that we attract and train new generations of people who are needed to enable the horticultural industry in this country to continue to thrive.

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“For our students and staff to be associated with a market leading company based in Suffolk, where they will get to work on a long term partnership is incredibly exciting.”

Mrs Gillespie – a keen gardener herself – wants to increase the amount of horticultural opportunities available at Suffolk Rural – which was launched this year following the break-up of Easton and Otley College.

“We are looking to create more short courses and increase horticulture numbers as well as continuing to expand our floristry and tree surgery options, training new generations in everything from plant science to propagation,” she said.

“Creating solid partnerships like this with Thompson & Morgan can only help us become a market leader that works hand in hand with the industry to put horticulture at the forefront of people’s minds.”

Thompson & Morgan product development manager Peter Freeman said: “We are thrilled to be working with Suffolk Rural and Suffolk New College on this project.

“We have a superb track record of success in terms of plant competitions and by partnering up with Suffolk Rural (and Sparsholt College), we hope to gain even more future success while inspiring new generations to get involved in the wonderful world of horticulture.”

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