Work and Retrain as A Gardener (WRAGS) for Garden Owners

As a Garden Owner you have spent years creating a garden that you are proud of.  The knowledge required to craft that scene may have been garnered by you through experience, or you may employ a professional gardener, but either way you value the skills needed to create and maintain a beautiful garden.  WRAGS is about passing on that knowledge to the next generation of gardeners.  The scheme goes to the root of what the WFGA is about, providing career opportunities in horticulture in the most traditional of ways, the sharing of skills and knowledge through practical experience as well as maintaining the legacy of the British landscape.

WRAGS training is recognised and supported by the RHS, National Garden Scheme, Professional Gardeners Guild and many other horticultural organisations.

Our members are enthusiastic and passionate about working in horticulture but need the practical experience to make that a reality.  Most of the trainees bring work skills from their previous occupations and are accustomed to using initiative, and planning their workload.

The aim of the WRAG Scheme is to give trainees a year’s paid part-time experience in a suitable garden under the guidance of a head gardener or a knowledgeable owner, before launching out on their own.  The instruction required is in good practical gardening skills and is built around our WRAGS curriculum.  On completion of the year, our graduates receive a certificate, recognised within the horticultural industry.  This provides a strong platform for the individual to develop their horticultural career.  Previous WRAGS Graduates have gone on to become Head Gardeners, in some of the most prestigious British gardens, some taking on trainees themselves.  Others have specialised in propagation, training, specialist plant nurseries as well as becoming self employed gardeners.

Who benefits from the WRAG Scheme?

  • The Garden owner benefits from hardworking, keen new members on their team, who bring a desire to learn.
  • The horticultural profession benefits from WRAGS graduates with skills developed in quality gardens.
  • The trainee benefits from the instruction of skilled gardeners or knowledgeable Garden Owners.
  • WFGA as a charity, is able to achieve its aim of Advancing horticulture, and offering members practical skills days and workshops hosted in placement gardens.

How it works

The Scheme is administered by the WFGA through WRAGS Regional Managers (RMs), who arrange the placement between Garden Owner and Trainee within the Scheme framework. The RMs’ inspect each garden for both content and training capabilities before confirming acceptance.

Once accepted as a placement garden the RM will arrange interviews for suitable potential trainees if available.  The Garden Owner is responsible for paying the trainee the National Living Wage (Please see details below) for up to 14 hours per week for one year.

Agreements are drawn up by the WFGA and signed by all parties.

The RM usually visits twice during the year’s placement to monitor the trainee’s progress in the garden. The trainee submits monthly assessment forms to the RM for monitoring and guidance.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Why would a Garden consider funding a WRAGS trainee

All our Garden Owners share a passion for horticulture and gardens and are equally motivated to improve horticultural education in all its formsTaking on a trainee is one way of ensuring your garden legacy is maintained for future people to enjoy.

Our trainees are keen to learn as much as possible from you during their year of training.   They are often career-changers and so enthusiastic and energetic.  They also offer you additional support in your garden.

A great range of rural and urban gardens of varying sizes support WRAGS placements across the country. These includes private and public gardens, city farms, Heritage gardens, some funded by local councils.

 

What will it cost to have a WRAGS trainee?

The garden owner pays the trainee directly according to the current rates of the National Living Wage and National Minimum Wage according to age. The current rate of NLW can be found at https://www.gov.uk/national-minimum-wage-rates.  The trainee is entitled to holidays (see our terms and conditions questions later on).

There is a four week probationary period, post a successful interview to ensure both sides are happy.

We do ask that the Garden Owner becomes a member of the WFGA to support the ongoing work of the Charity (https://www.wfga.org.uk/join-the-wfga/)

The trainee pays the WFGA an administration fee that covers the monitoring of the training by the Regional Manager and the certification and is therefore committed to completing the training.

 

What facilities should the Garden Owner provide?

  • The garden owner provides all tools and equipment, washing and toilet facilities and adequate facilities for tea and lunch breaks.
  • WFGA issues a basic Health and Safety Responsibilities document to the garden owner and trainee.

 

Who chooses the trainee?

The Garden Owner interviews and chooses the trainee. 

  • Our Regional Manager in your area, will work closely with you to find you the right trainee for your garden.
  • They will initially inspect your Garden with a visit and take you through our Garden Owners Handbook.
  • They will discuss any questions and/or concerns you may have. They will follow up by introducing you to possible trainees who they believe will match your requirements.
  • They will arrange suitable interview dates and act as a conduit to the discussions. The relevant contracts are then drawn up and completed by all parties.

 

How is the scheme monitored?

  • During the year it is necessary that the trainee completes a monthly assessment form (MAF) which is sent to the Regional Manager.
  • The MAF represents a set list of horticultural skills, and we require that the Garden Owner/Head Gardener offers as much of the training as possible that is on the syllabus. A copy of the full list of task and skills is available within the WRAGS FAQs.
  • The RM visits the Trainee in the garden, usually twice during the placement, after 4 and 8 months.
  • Sometimes the second visit may take the form of a telephone discussion.
  • All MAFs have to be completed in order for the trainee to receive their WRAGS certificate at the end of the year.

 

Who are our Trainees

  • Our scheme attracts both men and women.
  • There is a good mix of career changers who undertake the trainee placement amongst other work commitments. There are people from a wide range of previous paths including financial, medical, the civil service etc.
  • Trainees are often sourced from Horticultural colleges where they may already be studying horticulture via the RHS examinations.

 

Communication with our WFGA Regional Managers

  • As mentioned before, the Regional Manager is critical to the functioning of the WRAGS and plays a pivotal role.
  • Our Regional Managers are diligently selected by trustee representatives of WFGA according to their backgrounds, credentials for the role and proximity to the region requiring coverage.
  • They facilitate the placement of trainees into gardens and, at the time of writing, WFGA has 15 Regional Managers operating throughout England and parts of Scotland and Wales.
  • The Regional Managers meet the Garden owners and visit the garden to discuss suitability etc. Then they would arrange the initial matching of trainee with the garden placement, visit the trainee in each garden twice during the training year and also track the training given with monthly reports.
  • The latter is very important; the trainee needs to be assured he/she is getting a well-rounded and diversified practical learning experience and the garden owner / head gardener needs to be assured they are getting good value for money.

 

Questions on Terms and Conditions

Contracts

Contracts are signed between the WFGA and Garden Owner, and the Trainee and WFGA.  It is hoped that these agreements will remain in force for the training period. In the event of unforeseen difficulties, either party may terminate this agreement before the year is up, by giving two weeks’ written notice.  Any serious dispute that cannot be resolved by the RM will be escalated to the WFGA Board of Trustees, whose decision will be final and binding.

The Garden Owner and Trainee should also have a written agreement between themselves that sets out terms such as Annual Leave.

Health & Safety

  • Full details of these are given in our Garden Owner’s Manual, a copy which is available on request.

Are there paid holiday arrangements for trainees?

  • Holidays are to be mutually arranged between the Garden Owner and Trainee. The trainee is entitled to statutory minimum holiday pay, paid pro rata.

What happens with the trainee’s tax and national insurance?

  • The trainee is responsible for these. The trainee is responsible for declaring their income from the WRAGS training to HMRC (the Tax Office) via an annual Self-Assessment.

What happens in bad weather?

  • During bad weather, when appropriate, the garden owner provides garden tasks under shelter, such as the cleaning of gardening equipment and tidying sheds.
  • Note that trainees should not be expected to do domestic car or pool cleaning duties.

What is the insurance cover?

  • The garden owner accepts the responsibility of providing Liability Cover, and provides WFGA with the name of the insurer and policy number. House insurance usually covers domestic workers like gardeners in this situation, but it is the garden owner’s responsibility to check.

What happens if a garden owner does not follow employment or pay legislation?

  • The WFGA informs the garden owners on the relevant legislation but cannot enforce compliance. A trainee can make a complaint to an employment tribunal within three months of an alleged breach of law.

 

 Further Information about the Scheme

If you would like a detailed copy of our Garden Owners Pack which includes all our Terms and Conditions, or a copy of the Report and Accounts these are available from our Headquarters.

 The administration centre for the WFGA

7 Trull Farm Buildings, Trull, Tetbury, Glos GL8 8SQ

Telephone:  01285 841468

Email:  admin@wfga.org.uk   Website:  wfga@org.uk