Working with children and horticulture

Hayley’s passion for gardening began while watching her grandparents tending their own gardens. However, her career took a different turn as she studied Geography at university and became a town planner, before having a rethink in her early 30s.

All through this time Hayley had maintained her interest in horticulture and grew all her own vegetables, so she enrolled at night school on the RHS General Certificate in Horticulture (now called the Level 2 Certificate in Horticulture). Uncertain that she wanted to continue as a town planner, she decided to apply for a Wisley Diploma in Practical Horticulture and was delighted to be offered a place.

While at Wisley, Hayley got involved with Schools Education and did her dissertation on how horticulture could influence healthy eating in younger children. She helped out on school visits when she could, and when her current job -  teaching children how to grow food - was advertised, she applied.

Hayley now has 11 primary schools on the south coast that she visits for a day, twice per half term, working with children aged from four to 11. Although she is employed by the RHS, the project is funded by the Helen Hamlyn Trust, which seeks to increase hands-on learning opportunities in schools, and is linked with subjects in the National Curriculum.

Expanding every year, the hardest part of Hayley’s job is managing 11 schools, 11 different gardens and about 600 gardeners! She has to work out what can be done in each school, depending on the size of the garden, the soil and the space available, and views each school garden as a little RHS garden.

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