Me & My Job - Kim Stearn, horticulture student, Chichester College

Kim Stearn, horticulture student, Chichester College - image: Kim Stearn
Kim Stearn, horticulture student, Chichester College - image: Kim Stearn

How did you get started in the industry? I was brought up on Westergate Nursery but it went bust during the Suez crisis. I own it now with my family and have cleared it and applied for a hedging grant to plant on it. I've also worked on Holdens Nursery and worked on an organic farm in Canada last year. I'd worked as a kitchen porter for 10 years and I'd had enough of that.

What advice would you give to others starting out? Go for it and don't be scared to go to college. The most difficult thing is walking through the door.

What does your typical day involve? It depends on the day. John Marden teaches us garden design and landscape and we cover soil science and business. We learn construction - laying concrete, raised beds and wooden structures and how to use all the materials. We learn how to survey levels and health and safety, plant physiology and about turf and pests and diseases. It's a one-year course although it used to be two.

What is the best aspect of your job? I like the garden design.

And the worst? Nothing, because it is such a wonderful opportunity. I'm the oldest person on the course - some of the others are straight from school.

What is your biggest achievement on the course? Winning best garden at the Ideal Home Show this year. Everyone wanted to be involved and we all worked together. We used sustainable materials and arboriculture and blacksmith students helped. We didn't have a budget so we got pieces from everywhere. It's great for the CV.

What are your plans for the future? I don't know. I want to get into horticulture and Marden has been wonderful in inspiring me about garden design. There are lots of opportunities.


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