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Growing an in-demand career in urban gardening thanks to TAFE NSW

TAFE NSW Petersham

Growing an in-demand career in urban gardening thanks to TAFE NSW

Overall enrolments in CIII in Horticulture at TAFE NSW have more than doubled for the period 2018 – 2021 as Urban Gardening and city farming rose in popularity during COVID-19 lockdowns[1].

TAFE NSW graduate Steven Walker took an unlikely path to a blooming career in the sector, making the move from full-time Firefighter to sharing his knowledge of urban gardening in childcare centres and schools.

“It’s so bizarre but I’m a full time firefighter and I was doing some teaching for the fire brigade, teaching businesses how to evacuate in an emergency as an extra part of my job. I was also working in a very stressful environment in rescue, where I experienced some pretty intense scenes including cutting people out of cars,” Mr Walker said.

Steven wanted to do a course that was completely separate to the type of stress he was experiencing in his day job so enrolled in an introductory course in urban gardening at TAFE NSW Petersham. One thing led to another, and he soon went from a student in the course to teaching others.

“For me I was interested in gaining stronger gardening skills, I wasn’t planning on using it as a career – I was just into gardening.

Steven said the courses he completed at TAFE NSW changed the direction of his life. They gave him enormous confidence and opportunity, and he ended up running TAFE NSW programs in urban gardening all over Sydney. He has since started his own horticultural therapy education business, Urban Grow, and has been helping transform school and childcare community gardens as part of his work.

“A lot of schools and teachers want to get involved in community gardens so now my business goes in and runs professional development courses to give teachers confidence and ways to incorporate those skills into the curriculum.”

Introductory courses such as urban food growing are run by Career Pathways and Employability Skills at TAFE NSW. Head Teacher of Career Pathways and Employability Skills at TAFE NSW Ultimo, Dragica Sinikoski, said TAFE NSW works with communities, government and industry to identify education and training needs of people who face barriers to accessing vocational education and training.

“Courses in Skills for Further Learning and Engagement, including Urban Food Growing, importantly provide learners with employability skills and connect them with appropriate support services such as Career Counselling, Libraries, Disabilities Support Service, Literacy programs, Aboriginal Education and English as a Second Language.

“Students learn how to make appropriate education and employment decisions and can work towards a career in any an area of their choice.”

Aspiring green thumbs can also gain the skills they need to succeed in urban agriculture through a range of Horticulture courses at TAFE NSW.

To learn more about Career Pathways, Employability Skills, and Horticulture courses available at TAFE NSW head to or phone 131 601.   


Media contact: Alice Dalley, TAFE NSW Communications Specialist,, mobile 0402 528 210.