Emma Thomas

2019 QEST Ernest Cook Apprentice - Horticulture

Emma is an organic grower with a background in environmental science stemming from a fascination with the natural world. She has progressed from voluntary work to pursuing this as a vocation. Her QEST Apprenticeship is giving her the chance to deepen her study and pursue a long-term career working in organic food production.

There has recently been a resurgence of interest in ‘craft’ food growing (small-scale production based around natural methods), following a gradual decline over previous decades which led to a ‘skill gap’ in the number of practitioners. Emma’s apprenticeship will make a contribution towards closing that gap, and to the revival of craft market gardening in the UK.

QEST funding has enabled Emma to work for an extra day per week over a longer time frame at OrganicLea, enabling extended study and further expansion of skills, in addition to providing a budget for tools, equipment, and training.

Growing organically enables creativity, with a greater variety of crops allowing preservation of unusual varieties which would otherwise be marginalised or lost. The resulting produce delivers an exciting range of flavours and textures. Sustainable agriculture positively impacts our health, from the food we consume to a greater connection with its origin.