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A new course at Bath City Farm is using gardening to help unemployed adults develop business skills away from the classroom.
 
Organised by the Adult Community Learning team at Bath College, the Roots to Work Course takes three days a week over a two-month period.
 
Adult learners are growing plants to sell at the St John’s Spring Fair, and have been challenged to make a profit for charity.
 
The group have been growing a wide range of herbs and plants, including oregano, chives, rosemary, basil, nasturtiums, lemon balm and squash.
 
They have been refreshing their IT and business skills by keeping track of costs and helping with marketing for the fair on June 3.
 
Stephen Richardson, 42, from Bath is looking for customer service jobs and found a place on the course through the job centre.
 
He said: “I’m not a gardener, I’m more interested in the organisational and IT aspects of this course, but it’s interesting – it’s something new to learn.
 
“At the job centre they send someone to tell you about how to find work. You sit there listening, but you’re not actually doing anything.
 
“This course is much more practical. You get that sense of achievement, you can say ‘yes I’ve done this’ and when they ask you what you’ve done recently in an interview you can tell them. We’ve taken ownership of the project.”
 
Tea, coffee and vegan cakes will be on sale at the Spring Fair, along with a wide range of items on offer from charities, including Bath Cats and Dogs Home, Bath Mind, the RICE charity and Age UK.
 
Horticulturist Carol Stone is helping adult learners grow plants for the sale at Bath City Farm.
 
She said: “They have done a brilliant job, everyone has been very focused and motivated. We’ve produced quite a lot in a short amount of time.
 
“We’re looking to see if a practical skill like growing, taught alongside IT and business lessons, can increase peoples’ confidence finding employment.
 
“It’s about getting outside, meeting new people and learning new skills, because being unemployed can be isolating.
 
“A lot of people on the course are highly qualified, so we try and work with people in a way that recognises their different skill levels.”
 
Anna Ferguson, Activities and Community Outreach Coordinator at St John’s, said: “We are delighted to be involved in such an innovative and exciting project. I look forward to see the plants the learners have grown, and no doubt will be buying a fair few.”
 
The Spring Fair takes place at St John’s Hospital, Chapel Court, on Friday June 3 from 11am to 3pm.

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