A CALL home to nature and a friendly learning environment have Cheryl Harema, 18, looking forward to her classes at EIT Tairāwhiti. Growing more interested in plants and ecology after previously completing environmental management studies, she decided to look at the food production aspect of plants and enrolled in the New Zealand Certificate in Primary Industry Skills (Level 2) — Horticulture programme, through EIT’s Rural Studies Unit.
Over the coming year, she hopes to also complete the NZ Certificate in Land Based Sustainable Practices Level 3 and the NZ Certificate in Sustainable Primary Production Level 4.
“I have always been interested in plants and how they function,” she says. “There is so much more going on inside plants with their circulation systems,” she says. Cheryl’s class recently learned how to grow cuttings, which she found amazing. “Remove part of a stem and it grows a whole new plant — these are skills I will have my whole life.” Cheryl says the small class sizes are beneficial too.
“It is a friendly environment with a great atmosphere. The tutor Leigh Jones is a really good and helpful teacher.” Cheryl hails from Uawa, Tolaga Bay. Her coastal upbringing has inspired her to live more in harmony with nature and have control over her food. “We should be more community-based and help each
other, with people swapping food rather than having big fences between us.” With new local funding initiatives that will provide money to raise and plant trees to stabilise riverbanks and gullies, Cheryl can see herself making a living in the bush. “I just want to be self sustainable, with my own little nursery or farm. I do not want to rely on the system. I want to grow my own food so I know what is in it.”
Horticulture tutor Mike Beedie says horticulture is an extremely viable career option for the future.
“More than ever, the world needs food. There are some very exciting new technologies coming through, and in the future there will be a great mix of outdoor activity tied in with technological advances.”
Mike says the career pathways in the horticultural sector are extensive. “Think international travel, senior management positions, plant breeding, IT, marketing — the sky is the limit. “Plus you often see the dawn and sometimes you see the sunset — it makes for a great ‘office’!”