In 1990 the Association set up a committee to consider the problems faced by women starting out in the business of horticulture.
It was found that, while many were taking theoretical instruction in horticulture, they lacked practical training.
The Women Returners To Amenity Gardening Scheme (WRAGS) was launched in 1993 to provide that hands-on practical training. The concept was simple. The trainee would garden for 15 hours a week for a year, in a carefully sourced garden, under the instruction of a garden owner or head gardener.
The scheme is administered by the Women's Farm and Garden Association through Co-ordinators throughout England, Wales and parts of Scotland, who initially set up the garden placements and visit the trainees in each garden twice during the training year. The Co-ordinators also track the training given with monthly reports.
A training allowance is paid to the trainee by the garden owner with the trainees responsible for their transport, taxation and National Insurance contributions.
As the WRAG Scheme covers practical training only, it has proven impossible to obtain any grants or funding for it from Government or Educational sources – such funding is only given to courses with some academic content. The Association must therefore charge both parties a registration fee to help with the costs of the Scheme. Registration fees are - at present - £350 for trainees and £115 for garden owners.
To register your interest as a trainee or garden owner, please complete the Application form or contact the office for one to be sent to you. Once registered, your details will be forwarded to your local co-ordinator who will contact you and be able to answer any questions and discuss possible training.
Theoretical training is obtained by many members taking the examinations of the Royal Horticultural Society and the City & Guilds. Some members gain further professional experience with other organisations such as the Professional Gardeners' Guild.
Please note that both men and women are welcome on the scheme.