The Beyond Organics Programme
The Beyond Organics Programme (BOP) is a FREE volunteering and training programme for Golden Bay locals at the Golden Bay Sustainable Living Centre (SLC), taking place every Monday from 9am to 3pm for 16 weeks.
Through a combination of training sessions and hands-on working, participants will learn regenerative organic food growing skills, and gain experience suitable for application to anything from productive home growing to small-scale market gardening or farming.
The first BOP will begin on Monday 27 September 2021 with a limited group of 10 participants.
Why have we created this programme?
SLC currently hosts volunteers in the garden on a casual basis. Volunteers can attend whenever suits them.
The structure of the BOP will enable us to confidently invest more time and effort into upfront training for the volunteers enrolled, in the knowledge that they are committed to participating for the duration of the programme. This more intensive training will allow these volunteers to gain skills and experience much more quickly than through our open volunteer sessions.
Having a fixed group of committed volunteers each week will also help us to ensure the productivity of the gardens and continued supply of produce throughout the year.
The cohort nature of the programme, with the same group of volunteers learning and working together each week, will provide opportunities to form lasting social connections and learn from peers in the programme.
We will continue to host open volunteer sessions, for those who prefer a more flexible schedule, as we are keen to maintain low barriers to getting involved at SLC.
Who is this for?
The programme is for anyone who is keen to fast-track their learning about regenerative organic food growing techniques, and happy to make some commitment in return.
You may be wanting to learn how to make your home garden more productive, thinking about a career in small scale market gardening or farming, or picking up skills for use in your future.
No previous gardening experience is required (though experienced gardeners are also welcome) - it is more important that you are enthusiastic, willing to learn, and keen to get your hands dirty.
What will I learn and do?
You will learn skills and gain confidence in many of the aspects involved in running a small market garden operation or production-focused home garden, including:
Soil Health and Biology
Garden planning and design
Planting and crop protection
Composting and worm farming
Fruit tree care
Harvest and Preparation
Mushrooms in the garden
Biodynamics at home
and much more
When does the programme run?
The first programme will run every Monday from the 27th September 2021, for 16 weeks, apart from Monday the 27th December, finishing on Monday the 17th January 2022.
We are asking that participants commit to attending all or nearly all of the sessions. We appreciate that you may have a holiday booked, or unavoidable absences that might come up, but the expectation is that you would otherwise intend to come each week. If that doesn’t sound realistic for you, our open volunteer days may be more suitable for you.
Depending on how the first edition runs, we hope to run the programme continuously, with three cohorts each year. We expect the second edition of the programme to begin in January 2022.
What happens after the programme?
We hope that many of the BOP graduates will continue to be involved at SLC after the 16 weeks are complete, with many potential roles open to you.
This could be leading sub-groups of volunteers on our open volunteer days, supporting our staff on other days of the week, working alongside other groups of gardeners, volunteering with our education programmes, or taking the lead of new or distinct projects.
Equally we hope that many graduates will take the skills learned here and spread them around by starting or joining projects elsewhere. We will be happy to provide references for SLC graduates to help you access your next opportunity.
How do I apply?
To apply to join our programme, please fill in this short application form to tell us about yourself and why you’d like to take part in the programme.
Keep an eye on our email newsletter for updates - you can sign up for this on our home page here.
If you haven’t volunteered with us previously, it would be a great idea to come and volunteer at one of our open gardening sessions before applying, to give you a feel for SLC and the kinds of things we get up to here. Check out the Volunteer page for more info.
If you have any questions about the programme, just get in touch with our gardens manager Elliot at the SLC and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.