Hadlow College, which runs a unique (BSc Hons) degree in production horticulture, is set to enhance it students’ learning experience by building a £1.5m state-of-the-art glasshouse at its Court Lane campus.
Alan Harvey, programme leader and lecturer in horticulture at Hadlow, expects that the new 1,500m2 venlo structure – for which the college received planning permission in May (2017) – will be ready for a new salad crop around February next year (2018).
He said: “It’s very exciting. It’s my Christmas present for the next ten years. The glasshouse is going to be split into several compartments – a tomato centre, a pepper centre, and some research blocks used for dissertations and other student projects, such as LED light trials and propagation facilities.”
The land-based college based in Tonbridge, Kent, is investing in the new facility as part of its wider plan to increase its level of commitment to horticulture. It currently offers a range of higher and further education and apprenticeship programmes in the subject and has strong links with the local industry. It provides, for example, student placements with some of region’s largest fruit producers and runs the Thanet Earth Discovery Fellowship in partnership with Kent-based salad producer Thanet Earth.
However, despite its good connections, the college is keen to build new relationships with the industry and attract more horticulture students to better facilitate the growing needs of the sector.
Deputy group principal and deputy CEO Mark Lumsdon Taylor said: “We are seeing an improvement in the calibre and quantity of people coming into horticulture but it still isn’t enough because the horticulture sector in the UK has grown. Being a land-based college in the Garden of England, we have a duty of care to the horticulture sector.”
by Rachel Anderson