Blogs (Media Centre)

BED OF ROSES: TAFE Digital helps Melissa grow her passion into a career

TAFE Digital

BED OF ROSES: TAFE Digital helps Melissa grow her passion into a career

CAREER IN BLOOM: Former restaurant manager Melissa Wilson is living her dream as a horticulturalist at New Farm Park thanks to the skills learned at TAFE Digital.

29 January 2024


TAFE NSW has helped a former café manager with a passion for horticulture land a job helping maintain one of Brisbane’s most iconic inner-city parks.

Melisa Wilson, 26, had spent her whole working career in hospitality before a yearning to work in nature saw her make an unlikely pivot to horticulture.

In mid-2022, she enrolled in a Certificate III in Horticulture at TAFE Digital to give her the practical skills and experience to enter the industry, and she secured two jobs before even graduating last month.

After a stint at the Madura Tea Farm in Tweed Valley, Ms Wilson recently landed her dream job as a horticulturalist at New Farm Park in inner-Brisbane, listed as one of the city’s “high-profile green spaces”.

It comes amid a COVID-induced explosion in interest in gardening careers, as many locked-down residents discovered a passion for horticulture and decided to pursue a career in the field. According to the Australian Government’s Job Outlook, the nation’s gardening services industry is set for strong growth in the next year, generating annual revenue of nearly $3 billion by the end of 2024.

“I was fascinated by nature ever since I was a small child and had dreams of being the next David Attenborough, but I just kept putting it off as a career,” Ms Wilson said.

“I finally decided to take the plunge and chose TAFE Digital because I was working full-time while studying and the flexibility to do my course when and where it suited me best was great.

“It was an unbelievable experience and I couldn’t have gotten through it without the amazing teachers.”

Ms Wilson was even able to complete course assessments on the job at the tea farm, in one instance using leftover tea leaves as mulch as part of her weed control unit.

She said her current job with Brisbane City Council at New Farm Park was both challenging and deeply rewarding.

“To be part of a team responsible for maintaining such a beautiful, historic and important park is such an honour,” she said. “It’s the best job I’ve ever had.”

TAFE Digital horticulture teacher Ian Gaston, a veteran of the horticulture industry who previously worked at Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens, said the industry had surged in growth during COVID lockdowns and maintained momentum since.

“There is a huge demand for our graduates and plenty of jobs around,” Mr Gaston said.

The Certificate III in Horticulture is an 18-month course and open for enrolment anytime via TAFE Digital.


Media contact: Dan Johns, TAFE NSW Communications Specialist, mobile 0477 722 428