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Partnership to grow horticulture industry

TAFE Queensland has partnered with Swallowtail Nursery to offer students living with a disability the opportunity to learn nursery and gardening skills at its Grovely campus in Brisbane. 

Nathan Freney, the owner of Swallowtail Nursery, who is on a mission to create opportunities for people living with a disability through gardening, is thrilled with the partnership.

“This partnership will see more people living with a disability develop their skills to become the horticultural workers of the future under the guidance of TAFE Queensland’s horticulture experts,” said Nathan.

Having overseen the Coolum Community Garden in Coolum, Nathan knows that gardening and horticultural workshops give people with a disability new skills while socialising with others and gaining confidence.

The new partnership will take that one step further by teaching industry skills in propagation, plant care, planting shrubs and trees, potting plants, maintaining properties and structures, and workplace health and safety.

Learning about weed, pest and disease management, turf establishment, pruning, and basic machinery and equipment operation will round out their learning, as they earn a Certificate II in Horticulture (AHC20416).

Nathan, a qualified horticulturist with Asperger's syndrome, trains horticulture fundamentals for people with a disability from his Coolum Beach based nursery.

With over 13 years of industry experience, he’s passionate about sharing his horticulture experience and knowledge to help people understand how working with nature is good for them.

He says TAFE Queensland’s practical training will allow students to develop industry-standard horticultural skills to work in the nursery and gardening industry.

“People with a disability can fall off the radar regarding employment opportunities. But thanks to this new partnership, they can now access training that can lead to a career.”

He is keen to help people with a disability start careers within the horticulture industry to work with plants, properties, and structures and understand workplace health and safety.

“My mission is to get people back to nature, no matter their background, and give them the skills to start meaningful careers,” explains Nathan.

“With TAFE Queensland’s help, more people with a disability will learn in an industry-standard environment and gain confidence while learning job-ready nursery and gardening skills.”

“Many people with a disability want to work, do great things and add value to their employers – they just need to be supported by people who understand,” concluded Nathan.

The Swallowtail course begins on January 23, 2023, and runs over two semesters (1 year) part-time at TAFE Queensland’s Grovely campus, each Thursday and Friday, from 9 am to 3 pm.

This course qualifies students to work as horticultural assistants, nursery or garden labourers. You will also get the foundation knowledge needed to study this field further.