Gardens Foundation funds apprenticeship

June 2, 2021 BY

Proactive horticultural learning: Apprentice Troy Peddle is halfway through his rotation with the nursery team. Photos: EDWINA WILLIAMS

THE Ballarat Botanical Gardens exists to share knowledge of native and exotic plants with its visitors.

But with six apprentices currently in the City of Ballarat’s parks and gardens team, the site also operates as a hands-on outdoor classroom, educating the next generation of enthusiastic, passionate, and skilled horticultural professionals.

Troy Peddle is one of these young staff members.

Three months into three-years-worth of practical study, he’ll soon begin Federation University’s certificate three in parks and gardens, and he’s already making history.

Mr Peddle is the first City parks and gardens apprentice to be employed by BGT Jobs and Training, with his annual wages funded by the Ballarat Botanical Gardens Foundation and external benefactors, Arthur and Merrill Shulkes.

Peter Marquand, Troy Peddle, Elizabeth Gilfillan and Anita Godfrey caught up in the Gardens’ conservatory, where much of the apprentices’ nursery learning takes place.

“I’ve always had a passion for my gardens, mainly vegetable gardens, so when I saw the opportunity to apply for the apprenticeship, I jumped at it,” he said.

“I’m in the nursery for the first six months. It’s fabulous in there; everyone’s very supportive and has a lot of information to give.

“We’ve just recently taken down the begonias after the festival, so my work has been prepping them for storage. We finished putting out the Mother’s Day display, and we’ve been potting up tulips for our winter display.”

City of Ballarat’s horticultural apprentices spend time in the Gardens, the nursery, with the tree and sports crews, and on Sturt and Victoria streets.

Curator parks and nursery, Peter Marquand is proud to be nurturing the “horticulturalists of the future.”

Educating these young men and women is part of his team’s succession planning, encouraging the apprentices to apply for roles with the City of Ballarat once fully qualified.

“Most of them will go through an employment process and gain work with council after their apprenticeship,” he said.

“Our parks and gardens are a very important and unique part of what the City does. We have a world-class Botanical Gardens, well-known parks, streets and entrances, and all our apprentices are an integral part of our seasonal operations.

“Troy’s passion has been fantastic. That’s what we’re looking for in our gardening staff, and that’s something you can’t teach.”

BGT Jobs and Training is the largest employer of apprentices and trainees in Ballarat.

Apprenticeship and trainee consultant Anita Godfrey said Mr Peddle was the successor from a pool of three final applicants she presented to the City of Ballarat, and the Gardens Foundation during the employment process.

“We’re proud of this placement, and our partnerships with businesses across Ballarat, helping people create a career,” she said.

The Ballarat Botanical Gardens Foundation collaborates with the Friends of the Ballarat Botanical Gardens to help the green space thrive.

FOBBG’s Elizabeth Gilfillan said the volunteer Friends work in diverse ways to make horticultural ideas and educational opportunities a reality.

“Troy’s apprenticeship is a very personal and visible project that we can all take interest in, and be very proud of,” she said.

The Ballarat Botanical Gardens Foundation enables tax deductible donations. Visit ballaratbotanicalgardensfoundation.com.au.