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Branching Out Into a New Career

Manukau Institute of Technology

Five years ago, Linda Goenewegen had never touched a spade and didn’t know one end of a trowel from the other.

Today, Linda spends almost every day working with plants as co-owner of Calendula Cottage, a garden cafe at Glenbrook, south of Auckland.

Linda discovered gardening in 1994 and, after realising it was a hobby she enjoyed, she enrolled for Manukau Institute of Technology’s certificate in horticulture programme.

“I was working as as a community support worker with South Auckland Community Health, but I wanted a change and decided that I should work in an area I enjoy.

“When I started the MIT programme I didn’t even know what a cutting was,” she admits.

“I loved the course. I couldn’t get enough of seed catalogues and I still love the miracle of watching seeds germinate. The first thing I do every morning is go and see if any new seeds have germinated overnight.”

Calendula Cottage opened in March after Linda created the cottage-style garden from bare paddock. Many of the plants were propagated by Linda while she was at MIT.

“I’m really enjoying this,” she says. “I couldn’t go back to working for anyone again.”

MIT’s one year full time certificate in horticulture programme is available at MIT’s main campus and at the Drury campus, based at historic Aroha Cottage.

Both campuses feature extensive specialised learning resources including shadehouses, greenhouses, glasshouses and a commercial hydroponics facility.

The practical programme covers a broad range of skills and students supply plants for MIT’s commercial nursery. No previous horticultural experience is required.

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MIT also offers a unique diploma in horticulture designed for people who are working in the commercial horticulture industry.

The part time programme consists of six compulsory courses based on New Zealand Qualifications Authority units and can be completed through distance learning.

Informative lectures are held at MIT each week, although these are not compulsory. Lecturers will also be available by phone, fax or electronic mail. Papers are assessed on assignments carried out in each student’s workplace.

The diploma takes a minimum of two years to complete and students can start at any time.

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