The WRAGS scheme is one which I strongly support. This scheme identifies people who would like some experience within a garden - to gain not only experience, but also some training and guidance from the garden owner or Head gardener. The fact that this placement is monitored and has a requirement for the trainee in terms of documentation production as a way of gathering evidence of the work undertaken is admirable, and also useful to the trainee in the years to come. It shows a commitment to the training and the gardens in which they are working.
Numerous WRAGS scheme garden trainees now contribute to the management of many important gardens and the experience gained in their trainee gardens carried with them and onto others.
This is a scheme that encourages one of the greatest gifts in gardening, that of sharing skills, knowledge and experience with others.
The WRAG Scheme (Work and Retrain As a Gardener Scheme) was launched in 1993 to provide hands-on practical horticultural training. The concept is simple. The trainee gardens for 14 hours a week for a year, in a carefully sourced garden, under the instruction of a garden owner or head gardener.
It is no longer just women returning to work after starting a family, many trainees are now career changers often fitting in around a current work commitment and an increasing number of men are also applying.
The scheme is administered by the WFGA through Regional Managers throughout England, parts of 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 Regional Managers also track the training given with monthly reports.
The national living wage is paid per hour 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, and doesn't fit within standard horticultural apprentice schemes, 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 an administration fee to help with the costs of the Scheme. Administration fees are - at present - £600 for trainees.
For extra information please see the FAQ / About WRAGS page.
To join WFGA and register your interest as a trainee please click on the Membership button and follow the steps outlined OR please complete the Application form , or contact the office for one to be sent to you, and return with your cheque to the office. Once you have been accepted as a WFGA member your details will be forwarded to your local Regional Manager who will contact you and be able to answer any questions and discuss possible training.
PLEASE NOTE THAT IN LONDON THERE ARE FEW TRAINING GARDENS AND MANY TRAINEES IN WAITING. IF YOU WISH TO HAVE A CHANCE AT GETTING A PLACEMENT YOU SHOULD BE PREPARED TO TRAVEL OUT INTO THE COUNTRY - OR MAYBE STAY WITH FRIEND OR RELATIVES OVERNIGHT IN AN AREA WHERE THERE ARE MORE PLACMENTS AVAILABLE.
A trainee must be a member of the WFGA and remain a member for the entirety of the training.
Garden Owners should register their interest with the office and again details will be passed to the local Regional Manager. We require that garden owners join the WFGA as members to participate in WRAGS.
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.