Spotlight on Former Cornwall College Student Sophie Evans
Published: 2nd February 2021
My yearning for adventure was more than satisfied when I relocated from Somerset to a YHA Snoozepod at The Eden Project to continue my studies in Horticulture run through The Cornwall College Group and Plymouth University.
I spent half the week in Cornwall and half the week in Somerset and it was one of the best times of my life. I studied on the HNC in Landscape and Garden Design and enjoyed it very much but spending time with those studying on the BSc in Horticultural Science and in the incredible biomes made me realise that my calling was in the sciences. Now, I have a first–class honors degree in Horticultural Science and Management.
My studies have allowed me to work in some really interesting places and with some really interesting people and whilst I may have moved on, the Eden sustainability ethos has never left me. For instance, my recent work has been about re-tendering and managing the grounds maintenance contracts and re-writing the very out of date contract specifications for some 200 school grounds and public sports facilities in and around Somerset. I am very proud to have secured the significant reduction in herbicide use and eradication of pesticide use within the schools I worked with.
Advising on modern machinery has meant, wherever possible, grass clippings are no longer collected but mulched and returned to the sward almost always negating the need for environmentally damaging fertiliser applications, broad-leaf herbicide use and mechanised over-seeding. I petitioned fiercely for a living wage for all contractors and investment in their horticultural and basic skills that resulted in, not only huge improvements in staff morale and practice, but also in the health and education of the service users. The educational endeavours of Eden stayed with me too – Forest Schools, Allotments and Willow Sculpting were a big part of the work and I loved that, in a small way, I contributed to the learning of future generations through horticulture.
But it seems everything goes full-circle! Here I am back in Cornwall teaching at Duchy College Rosewarne with some of the horticulturalists who taught me in the past and made me who I am today. It’s just a few hours a week until my studies towards my goal of a PhD can resume post-COVID but I can’t think of a better way to pass the time – Spending time with people who love plants as much as me, talking about plants we love and being around the plants we love: Bliss!