SLU update – Ecology & Organic Horticulture modules

Well who could have imagined that ecology could be so interesting? Patrick Whitefield is a stupendous teacher. Really. We’ve been looking at how plants, animals, climate, soil and humans interact, which is at the core of everything really. It’s highlighted to me how much we’ve doing wrong, and made me quite proud that we’re doing at least a few things right.

Surprisingly, I’m one of only a few people on the course who have land in any quantity. Most people are aspirational rather than active at this stage. The average age is also higher than I imagined, but it’s a pretty varied group from the early 20s through to a few people in their 60s and there’s quite a few people who have travelled here from elsewhere in Europe.

We’re midway through the Organic Horticulture module now and I’m not finding this one as exciting as the last. Much of the information about the growing of specific type of veg could be found in any decent gardening book. However, where it can’t be beaten is when Jo and Patrick’s personal experience comes into play. That’s what we’re paying the money for I guess!

Jo has been an organic smallholder in Ireland for about a zillion years and has masses of very relevant experience. One of the things that is coming through on this course is how bloody hard it is to make any sort of living from the land! But Jo knows how to, if anyone does! She’s currently the Seedbank Co-ordinator for Irish Seed Savers and has brought some fascinating heritage varieties along for us to purchase. I’ve bought some pumpkins which apparently produce huskless seeds. The kids love pumpkin seeds but they are a pain to hull.


Gifts photograph


Sadly our promised visit to a local organic smallholding was cancelled, but we have a field trip to a Biodynamic garden booked for later in the week.  I really don’t know what to expect and am trying very hard indeed to keep an open mind.









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