On March 21, 2012, Belize Botanic Gardens received funding from the European Union’s Belize Rural Development Project II (BRDP II) to undertake a Professional Gardeners’ Training Program. Funding is administered by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development and BBG’s partner duPlooy’s Jungle Lodge.
The Title of the action under this grant was, “Improving the Quality of Life of Rural Household by developing Capacity to find and create employment in gardening and other plant related areas.” The overall objective of the grant was to teach underemployed and unemployed men and women the skills necessary to earn a living as employees or small business owners in these areas. Research showed that job opportunities requiring these skills exist in both the business and private sectors, particularly in the tourism industry.
As a member of Caribbean Botanic Gardens for Conservation, we became aware of the need for a center for horticulture training, not only in Belize, but throughout the Caribbean. Receiving BRDP Funding has enabled us to pursue this goal on a local level by offering a wide range of classes through our Professional Gardeners’ Program. For the term of the 34-month EU project free classes were being offered to Belizeans. To sustain the program after completion of the funding term, classes were opened to international students as well.
The course offered included three levels of horticulture training; small nursery establishment for ornamental plants; small nursery establishment for food plants; cut flower growing and marketing as well as a variety of 1-day workshops such as seed saving, floral arrangement and culinary herbs. Classes lasted 10 days for each level and were offered eight times during the term of the project. In addition, there were On-The-Job training opportunities of 12 weeks for 2 trainees per session. All courses were offered 12 times during the funding period.
We targeted interested individuals, male or female, who were unemployed or barely employed but had a deep interest in becoming a professional gardener. After completion of the training program participants were being awarded with a Certificate of Completion and Job Recommendation Letter.
More than ever professional gardeners are in great need throughout Belize. The tourism industry alone employ’s groundskeepers, landscape managers, designers, and gardeners and the need for professional trained and skilled workers is growing every day.
The Professional Gardener’s Training also helped to teach the skills necessary for starting ones own landscape related business in Belize, whether it’s a plant nursery establishment or landscape installation and maintenance company.
Contact our office for more information about these training sessions and how to enroll in the Professional Gardeners’ Training Program.
Belize Botanic Gardens would like to thank the Government of Belize, European Union’s Belize Rural Development Project and its partner, duPlooy’s Jungle Lodge for the initial funding of the project to undertake the action “Improving the Quality of Life of Rural Household by developing Capacity to find an create employment in gardening and other plant related areas”.