Case Study

Horticulture Apprentice

Tom Warren of the Eden Project
Information about Thomas Warren
Name Thomas Warren
Location Cornwall
Company Eden Project

"I thought it would be great to be learning whilst working at an amazing place and gaining experience.

Thomas Warren


I’m Tom Warren, and I’m a horticulture apprentice at the Eden Project.
During the course of my apprenticeship I’ll work with each section of Eden’s ‘Green Team’ – so I’ll cover many very different areas.  I’ll also complete a Work-based Diploma in Horticulture.  It’s great to be paid to learn and to do so in such an amazing place!
I didn’t really know what I wanted to do for a job, until I carried out a week’s work experience at a family gardening business.  I really enjoy being outside, and find that horticulture allows me to use my creative streak.  By the end of my apprenticeship, I look forward to knowing more about which particular area I want to pursue within this field.

Tell us about your job – where do you work and what do you do?

I’m an apprentice on the Green Team (that's the horticulturalists) at the Eden Project.
As part of my apprenticeship I’ll spend 6 weeks on each sub-team, covering everything from working in the famous biomes to working on Eden's outer estate.

What inspired you to do what you do?  How did you get into it, did you have a plan?

As I’m only 16, I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do.  Then, in May last year, I spent a week in London with my uncle’s landscape gardening business for my work experience.  We covered everything; hard landscaping, planting and garden maintenance.  As a result, once I completed my GCSEs, I planned to study horticulture at Duchy College - until I read the local paper and saw an advert about the apprenticeship at Eden; I thought it would be great to be learning whilst working at an amazing place and gaining experience.   

Why is your job meaningful?  Both to you personally, and in how it benefits the wider world in terms of climate change and other environmental challenges.

My job is meaningful to me as I enjoy it, and is beneficial to other people because when they come to Eden they see the work of the whole Eden team.
Also, the Eden Project is well known for being eco-friendly and trying to create a sustainable future, by educating the visitors and staff with displays and information on how to be greener.

Many jobs in this sector are very new, how long has your job existed?

My job is brand new as this is the first year that Eden have ever taken on horticulture apprentices. 

What personal qualities do you think have got you where you are today?

I think the main thing is that I like to be outside and would not be able to stand being stuck in an office all day!  Also, I’m quite creative, which helps when you’re trying to make an area look attractive.

What are the essential skills for your job?

I think you have to be quite imaginative - you need to be able to imagine what you’re trying to create in order to make it look good.  You also have to be very hands-on and willing to get stuck into whatever you’re doing.

What qualifications do you have? Are these typical for people in your role?

As I left school very recently the only qualifications I have so far are my GCSEs, in which I achieved mostly Cs and a few Ds.
The apprenticeship I’m doing will give me a Work-based Diploma in Horticulture once complete.

What do you think most helped you get where you are now?

I think the week in London with my uncle’s landscape gardening business helped me most, as that’s when I realised that working outside with plants is what I want to do.

Please describe a typical working day

07.30  Arrive at work, put all the tools we’ll need into a vehicle and drive to where we’ll be working for
          the day - this varies depending on what jobs need doing around the site.  We then start work.
10.15  Break time; coffee and a snack.
10.45  End of break; continue with what we were doing, or if we've finished one job move onto the next.
13.00  Lunch time.
13.45  Back to work.
16.00  Return all the tools we’ve used, tidy up and go home.

What do you enjoy most and least about what you do?

I enjoy everything about my job.  Obviously there are some bits I prefer, but I do like the fact that I’m always doing something different; some days I might be landscaping an area and other days I could be weeding.
I don’t like working in the cold and rain!

What kind of people do you meet through your work or do you work alone?

At Eden everyone works as a team in order to get things done.  Everybody's different but each person that I’ve met throughout my time here so far has been very friendly.
I also meet members of the public in my job and they sometimes ask questions about what I’m doing.

Do you feel well paid for what you do, or is it not about the money?

For me it is not about the money, because if I were to have gone into a full-time college course I wouldn't be getting paid at all.  However, this is an apprenticeship and I am working, therefore I get paid - which is an extra bonus.

Finally, what do you know now about jobs, careers and the future that you wish you’d known when you were at school?

I wish I had known more about the different jobs within horticulture, so I would have known what area interested me most.  Luckily I am on this apprenticeship at Eden and, once completed, it should give me a clear indication of which specific area I want to continue with.

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