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New Apprenticeship For Local Food Growers - A Great Opportunity

21st December 2006

Highlands and Islands Local Food Network (HILFN) is to set up a food apprenticeship to train a new generation of food growers in the area - the first course of its kind in Scotland.

More and more consumers in the Highlands and Islands are choosing to eat healthily and shop locally which is leading to a shortage of locally grown fruit and vegetables in many parts of the north.

The new course, called Local Food Apprenticeship in Horticulture is aimed at existing farmers, crofters and new growers. It will cover practical production in field and polytunnels as well as the planning and marketing of fruit and vegetables. The course is part time, with three days training each month for a year and starts in February 2007.

Jo Hunt, network leader with HILFN said: "There's nothing better than freshly picked brussels sprouts, locally reared beef or new potatoes. But the problem we are having is meeting the demand from households, hotels and local shops. It seems that everyone wants to eat local, so we are setting up a new training programme to help meet the need for more.

"The best teachers are those already doing it so we have trained up to 15 experienced growers from across the north and they will be doing the teaching. It's definitely a course for people who like to get their hands dirty. And it's open to both young people and those with a few more years behind them."

In what is a new approach in Scotland, the HILFN apprenticeship course is being delivered jointly by experiencing farmers in Moray and the Highlands as well as industry experts, and will be based on farms near Forres and Inverness.

There has been a lot of local interest already, and the demand for the course is high.

The course is open to Highlands and Islands residents aged 18-64 - employees or self-employed, and to full time trainees on a Modern Apprenticeship. Preference will be given to existing producers who are expanding the scale/range of their business, and to new growers with some experience of gardening, land management and marketing which they plan to develop as a business.

We are looking for candidates who:

Have some previous experience of horticultural production (this can be in a variety of activities).

Can show they intend to use the course to enable them to work in horticultural production in the Highlands and Islands (this can be through expanding an existing business, starting a new one, or being employed).

Can commit to dedicating the time required to complete the whole course, including assignments (applications to attend selected units will only be considered if there are spare spaces).

Are able to use and apply practical and theoretical training and to pick up new skills.

Are physically fit and mobile, and able to work outdoors for prolonged periods.

Are able to work as part of a supportive team.

The actual costof the course is 3700 but will be offered to successful candidates for 500.

Applications must be received by 15 January 2007.

For more details and to receive an application pack, please call Gail Stuart-Martin, course co-ordinator on 01381 600525, or visit the HILFN website at


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