THE Green Certificate will celebrate its 40th birthday in 2023.
The qualification is now widely recognised as important farmer training.
It recognises the many roles that the farmer has to play and the many skills they need to farm from day to day. The green certificate has been continually renewed over time. It is subject to rigorous standards and reviews in order to maintain its value and relevancy.
Studies have shown the benefits of the green cert. I would contend that while there are recognised financial benefits in terms of a return to the time and cost investment, there are also hugely valuable benefits in allowing students to make connections and ongoing networks. This can go some way to help address the solitary nature of farming. Benefits extend beyond the person who completes it, to the wider community and business that they are involved with.
A part-time Green Cert option is available in West Cork with a new course being planned for September.
It provides a local option for many who are happy to continue farming/off farm employment while undergoing their agricultural education.
The Green Certificate is often referred to as a hands- on course. This could be in relation to students learning with stock, machinery and workshop equipment. The latest hands-on features will involve simulator equipment to allow students experience and practise with the latest farm machinery and equipment whatever their previous competence.
A feature of the recent Green Cert is the use of on-line facilities. This allows the students to access course material in their own time and pace. It also allows for working on and submitting projects from their home desk.
Students base their project work on their own farms. I believe that this enhances the learning as it is backed up by day-to-day experiences. The linking of course material with the students own farm practises is a core feature of the course completion.
The course is delivered across the three Teagasc venues of Clonakilty, Skibbereen and Macroom. Travelling involved is managed to make it as fair as possible. The use of the three venues does allow students to use different facilities and have access to different teachers and resources. We use Clonakilty Agricultural College to make use of farm and farmyard facilities as well have access to extensive information technology facilities.
The course reflects that many farmers are now constantly using their smart phone with its many apps. and to assist them day-to-day.
With the planned course, it is envisaged that the students will attend an evening session on Tuesdays. There will also be class on Thursday.
The class size is typically 20 which allows considerable engagement between class members and with staff. Support is available as required. It is open to over 23 year olds.
The course focuses on main stream farm enterprises. A section is also dedicated to farm safety, business as well as focussing on soils, grassland and machinery. An emphasis is put on applying the learning to day-to-day farming.
Assessment is by continuous examinations/projects and demonstration of skills.
Many of those who completed the first Green Certs in the early 1980s may wonder where the years have gone. No doubt some have seen the next generation go on to complete the course as well.
It would be our great wish that the course can continue to contribute to the local and national farming scene.
I would welcome any queries or request for further information. Please contact me or any of the local Teagasc offices.
• Pat Flannery is the Teagasc educational officer for Cork West and is based in the Macroom office.