In the last year or so, Teagasc have been making great strides in developing The Ashtown Education, Research and Conference Centre as a crucial part of the Botanic Gardens campus. Pitchcare Ireland were out in the newly developed conference centre and got to see, first hand, the new facility.
Part of an overall investment of €6.5 million by Teagasc to relocate from Kinsealy to Ashtown, Teagasc invested over €2,500,000 on the Turf Academy, the dedicated glass house, poly-tunnels, a general utility building, the mushroom research facility and ornamentals area. These facilities will be shared between forestry, horticulture and turf education and they promise that there is more to come this year too.
Industry companies are encouraged to take advantage of the new conference centre and some already have done. “This place is open for business, our aim is to sell courses and we encourage members of industry to come and spread the word that we are doing some good things here, and plan to do more good things in the future.”, says Teagasc assistant principal Colm Dockrell, who was speaking at a Natugro Seminar, put on by Unichem and Koppert Biological Systems. Colm encourages more of the trade to get out to Ashtown for hosting education and trade seminars.
Teagasc received some funding nine years ago to invest in the Ashtown development, when the decision was made to rationalise locations and reduce overhead costs. “We thought we may have lost that funding during the recession, but, low and behold at the end of the downturn, when things started picking up again, we had managed to hold on to the funds.”
The investment Teagasc have put into creating the Education, Research and Conference Centre, will provide the necessary additional training facilities for horticulture students on courses at the Teagasc College of Amenity Horticulture in the National Botanic Gardens. The 116 seater lecture theatre and laboratory are first class.
As Colm says, it’s all about the industry and the new state of the art Conference Centre complements this sentiment. The Conference centre provides an additional reception area, meeting rooms and canteen facilities for all staff on the site, and can accommodate large groups visiting for conferences and seminars.
Colm has spent a lot of time around the new development in Ashtown over the last year, “We have made some fairly big strides to developing Ashtown as a very important part of the botanic gardens campus. The main part of the Teagasc campus is based in the Botanic Gardens in Glasnevin, but we are very much handtied as to what we can do, practically out there.”
One of the most exciting things to happen recently with Teagasc, is that they have been approved to offer apprenticeships for the first time in horticulture. So they will have Sportsturf Management and Applied Horticulture apprenticeship programmes to start in 2019, both at level 6, the advanced certificate. “Candidates can earn and learn at the same time. Which I think is the modern way forward”, says Colm. Teagasc also have a Stud Farm Management apprenticeship available, at degree level 7.
“We will be relying on people from golf clubs and the trade to be spreading the word about the apprenticeship programmes in the future. It’s an exciting thing (the apprenticeship programmes) because, it’s something we have always hoped for, along with our developments on the facilities here, and also developments with regards staff. We have had an embargo on employing people for the last 8 years, but we are again employing people from the public service which is great to hear.”
The official grand opening of the new Education, Research and Conference Centre at Teagasc Ashtown, Dublin will be on May 17th.