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Catherine (Cat) will be one of the first graduates of the Organic Distance Programme offered by the BHU. The course has “exceeded her expectations” and Cat says she has learnt a great deal and enjoyed every module.

Cat decided to do the course after getting some land of her own (a undeveloped quarter acre section in Dunedin). She had been interested in growing vegetables for some time and after getting her own patch it seemed the time was right. She lived too far away from Lincoln to do the organic horticulture course, so the correspondence option suited her well.

Cat was pleased the course integrates both theory and practical work. She feels the course gave her a solid grounding in the principles of growing for either a commercial venture or home-growing. Her favourite module was planning plantings to attract insects and birds. She also enjoyed the soils module and feels she has gained a great understanding of the principles of soils and how they influence plant growth. “Before doing the course I knew that soils were important, but I didn’t understand things like the carbon and nitrogen cycles. I learnt really interesting things like when the soil temperature is low, there is not much nitrogen available, and so not much growth.”

Other favourites subjects were introduction to horticulture and permaculture. “I really looked forward to receiving the modules in the post – and I found them all really useful, and comments from the tutors were excellent. ” Feedback includes some sessions on Skype to talk to the tutors about the course. Cat says the reading list was also very valuable and the books that were recommended helped a lot.

A valuable part of the distance programme was the five day block course at the BHU’s site at Lincoln. During this block the distance students made compost and learnt other practical skills that are difficult to cover by correspondence.

Cat says she now has the confidence and knowledge to pursue growing her Dunedin garden and thoroughly recommends the course.

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