Ashley Walker

2021 Horticulture Scholar

Sponsored by IGC (Independent Garden Centres) and the Ryde Student Fund

I have always had a passion for landscaping and Horticulture. As a child, every growing season I would plant a vegetable garden. I found so much enjoyment from being in the garden and always believed that it was going to be my career.

I started a casual position at Gardens R Us in Bowral as a fifteen-year-old. Today, I have completed a Certificate III in Horticulture as an apprenticeship, first aid course, forklift license, white card, chemical card, and have now commenced a Certificate IV in Disabilities. I work at Welby Garden Centre, which provides vocational training and supported employment to people with disabilities. This program not only delivers a valuable service to people living with disabilities, but also to the community.

I support people with disabilities daily, teaching person-centred how to pot up and maintain a huge range of plants – for example: pruning, fertilising, and other maintenance. Every Tuesday afternoon, I take a supported employee from Welby Garden Centre out for socialising and helping at home with some in-home duties. For example, washing up. I am studying Certificate IV in Disabilities so that I can develop skills in person-centred horticultural programs for clients.

I also manage a new retail system on an I pad which is called Roam, and every Wednesday I water and maintain the plants within Springett’s arcade Bowral NSW. I was a nominee for the Industry Bloomer Of The Year award in 2019.

Through this scholarship I want to gain new skills and knowledge in my inspiring trade to help grow the Horticulture industry in Australia. I intend to learn, and change Horticulture for the better.

My goal is to start a retail\wholesale nursery in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales, recruiting passionate young employees that share my ambition to drive the industry and networking with experienced people in retail and wholesale companies to learn their methods and ways of operating. Once this business is established and running, I would like to start a program with the schools in the area for students to pursue horticulture.

My industry is facing a severe skill shortage in young people and I have seen first-hand what it is like. I have attended several conferences in Sydney and Melbourne with representatives from more than fifty retail and wholesale nurseries, and I have been the only attendee under the age of twenty-five.

With 85% of the current horticulture workforce being 40 years of age or older, this industry needs to be attracting, retaining, and developing a young nursery industry workforce.

The future viability of the industry needs to be addressed by fostering the development of passionate young employees. I view this scholarship as an opportunity to grow within the horticulture industry and to explore opportunities for Australia’s nursery industry by researching practices and technologies that can be applied to our climate, conditions and methods. The scholarship will foster the concept of continuous improvement by developing infrastructure and widening both local and international communication networks.

I would like to learn everything about being a Horticulturist and Landscaper.

In Horticulture, I would like to learn innovative techniques of propagating trees, shrubs, indoor plants, succulents, and cacti. I would also like to learn new ways of making the Horticulture industry more sustainable in the areas of pest and disease management through environmentally friendly, renewable strategies in production horticulture.

I am passionate about landscaping and would like to learn and experience new technologies and methods that can be applied to our domestic industry, from planting a garden to building a retaining wall. I am particularly interested in exploring new innovative ideas to make landscaping more sustainable through irrigation systems in gardens and saving water.

I can benefit from visiting different countries by learning their techniques and skills and implementing them in Australia’s horticulture industry. To do this I am hoping to travel to the following countries:

UNITED KINGDOM What can I learn and why? I would visit The United Kingdom, there have some amazing events and shows that I will attend that explore horticulture. The Chelsea flower show focuses on the premise that you can make a small garden look big. These techniques would be especially useful in the Horticulture industry. The United Kingdom has the biggest horticultural industry in the world which means it has the most experience, expertise and is very innovative in new techniques and skills. Attending the United Kingdom will benefit my professional development by helping me more to understand the processes of production and learn more techniques of working in the horticultural industry.

FRANCE The Monet Garden located in the small town of Giverny Normandy (in northern France) and The Botanical Garden of Tete d’Or Park Lyon is situated within an 8-hectare botanical garden and is one of the largest botanical gardens in Europe. What can I learn and why? France has been a leader among European nations in terms of initiatives developed to promote sustainability and it would be valuable to learn their ways of achieving this outcome. Visiting France will help my professional development by teaching me new innovative ideas that would be more sustainable in the horticultural industry.

People I would like to work with include Mr. Graham Ross because I have attended a number of different retail and wholesale nursery conferences where he passionately spoke about youth in the horticultural industry and the need to foster more young people.

This BBM Global Industry Scholarship is my opportunity to visit new events and locations, which will expose me to new climates and cultures. From my experience in other countries and learning from the professionals, I can envisage supporting new and current people in the industry to achieve their goals and help others with the process of completing a BBM Scholarship.

I enjoy helping people whether it be in their personal or professional life, and I take great pride in giving back to the industry that I am so passionate about.

“Passion, ambition and dedication are very prevalent in Ashley’s application. He demonstrates fantastic awareness of important issues currently faced within the industry and genuine concern and investment in ideas to address them. He also stands out through his contributions to his community.” – BBM Industry Panel

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