Published: 14 October 2013
Sue's Views: Induction Week
I’ve had three full days of being immersed in the wonders of Dartington and the earth has certainly changed (dare I say moved?) for me. Where do I start?
Well, firstly I am in awe of my fellow students. Most seem to have a better grasp of horticulture than myself and some have even moved on to more specialised knowledge of biodynamics, permaculture and even gaia theory. They are going to be very stimulating company.

We’ve run through the expectations of the course and luckily it is pretty much what I thought I’d signed up for. However, I was hoping to have some more exposure to Martin Crawford’s amazing forest garden. If I understand it correctly, his theory is that an acre of land can support a family of 4 or 5 with little maintenance and very sustainably. It all turns around the seven layers of forest/woodland. Really interesting. I need to research more.

We’re going to spend three afternoons every week doing practical stuff in the Schumacher garden, School Farm (organic veg) and Dartington Grade2* (awesome) garden. Schumacher has some forest garden which I’m pleased about, chickens (which caused quite a lot of excitement when they arrived on Friday), some veg, a bit of everything really. Even a pee shed. (I won’t go into details).

School farm has an amazing system (community supported agriculture) where some families have invested money, are repaid in produce and take the risk if a bad harvest. The vegetables looked beautiful, all organically grown. But we could also see the dangers: half the onion crop appeared to have been attacked by sawfly (must look that up) and can only be used if all chopped up and put in the freezer straight away. What a job! They use a no-dig system- more research needed. I’m going to be busy.

Dartington garden was mind-blowing as always. It’s one of my favourite haunts with the children. We had a fabulous tour with the head gardener and I learnt so much about the Elmhursts and their visions for the local community. We were also shown this unbelievable yew tree that is at least 1500 years old. It is HUGE. And there’s a Japanese garden which I never knew was there.

So much in just 3 days. I haven’t actually done any gardening yet. Next week. I must get some thick socks and steel toe-capped boots. It’ll be nice to get my hands dirty at last. Oh yes, better start using some handcream too.

The last thing I should mention is social media. In the last 2 weeks I’ve joined Facebook and twitter. I have no idea what I’m doing on either of them so if I end up ignoring you please forgive me it’s probably just that I haven’t managed to access your message. On Twitter I have 2 followers: one is a horticultural society, the other a bloke who grows flowers to save the world and impress girls. Facebook I’m finding a bit invasive. I’m not sure I like it monitoring all my computer activity. In fact it’s probably reading this as I write it….
Reported by Sue  

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