Horticultural Production Worker

Also known as: 

Fruit and Vegetable Worker; Glasshouse Production Worker; Plant Propagator; Nursery Worker.

Job Description: 

Horticulture Production Workers work in either food production or ornamental plant production/sales environment, producing plants in production areas, such as ornamental plant nurseries, fruit and vegetable production farms, cut flower grower farms, or on any farm or

site that produces plants.

Ornamental production of plants can include production for your local park to the shelves of the big garden centre chains, the trees, shrubs and flowers we all enjoy are grown at ornamental plant nurseries (an ornamental plant is one that looks good, but you can’t eat!).

Fruit and vegetable production; think of a greengrocer shop or supermarket aisle filled with British fruit and veg: you’d see apples, pears, plums, cherries, raspberries, strawberries, blackcurrants, carrots, potatoes, broccoli, salads, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, mushrooms, watercress…

They’re all grown by fruit and vegetable nurseries in the UK. The technology involved in growing edible plants plus the job opportunities from management to marketing make working on a fruit or veg nursery a rewarding career.  

Both areas of production may include either field production or protected production in glasshouses or plastic tunnels.

Horticultural Production Workers are likely to be involved in some of the following:

  • Growing plants, including sowing seeds, planting bulbs, cultivating cuttings and transferring the seedlings to pots and containers
  • Continuing to nurture plants by watering, weeding, pruning, and nutrient application
  • Identifying and dealing with pests and diseases
  • Maintaining horticultural tools, machinery and technical equipment
  • Identifying produce to be picked and packaged
  • Making sure the temperature, light and humidity in production area is at the optimum level
  • Working in teams to produce, pick and pack the final product
  • Customer service
  • Picking and packing of produce
  • Labelling of produce
  • Retailing of produce.

Some plant production centres can be quite large and have many different areas of work, where a variety of skills are required, such as production areas, garden centres and packhouse/dispatch areas.

The work can be challenging and affected by the weather and the changing seasons.

There are opportunities to progress to supervising a team of Horticultural Production Workers or specialise within a specific technical area such as irrigation specialist or soil specialist.

Working Conditions: 

The hours vary depending on the type of farm or production nursery and on the season. In large farms or nurseries staff may work a standard full-time week. In many businesses early starts are common in the summer months.

In both types of production businesses, weekend work, late evenings and overtime are common. There are also part-time and casual jobs available.

The work is rewarding and can be physically demanding. Workers may work inside or outside in all weather conditions. Protective clothing or a uniform is usually supplied.

Salary & Other Benefits: 

These figures are only a guide, as actual rates of pay may vary depending on the employer and where people live:

  • Starting salaries may be around £10,000 to £15,000 a year
  • With experience, Horticulture Production Workers may earn around £18,000 to £20,000
  • Those in supervisory or management roles may earn from around £20,000 to over £40,000 a year.
Skills: 
  • Be able to prepare sites for planting
  • Be able to prepare growing media
  • Be able to collect and store propagation material
  • Be able to propagate plants from seed
  • Be able to establish crops or plants
  • Be able to control the environmental conditions for protected crops
  • Be able to maintain the growth of crops or plants
  • Be able to harvest crops using varies means
  • Be able to complete post harvest operations, such as washing produce, trimming, grading, labelling etc.
  • Have good customer service skills.
Personal Qualities: 
  • Work in a team/with others
  • Work on your own
  • Time management
  • Self-motivated
  • Flexible working
  • Mobility.
Qualifications and training: 

There are a variety of qualifications and training opportunities that can help you:

  • Learn more about your chosen area
  • find employment
  • improve your current skills
  • gain promotion
  • enhance job satisfaction

This a link to the Register of Regulated Qualification held by Ofqual and has been set up to search for a range qualifications in Production Horticulture Qualifications.  As this search includes all qualifications at different levels and different kinds, you may need to seek further assistance with your tutor or a local college as to the best ones to suit your needs. The qualifications listed on this website are suited if you are resident in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

For those of you living in Scotland you need to search for qualifications with the Scottish Qualifications Authority. You will need to choose the type of qualification you are looking for and then search for qualifications available in Production Horticulture

You may also wish to find out about apprenticeships available in Production Horticulture and further information can be found on the National Apprenticeship Service website http://www.apprenticeships.org.uk/ for England.

If you are living in Wales follow this link to the Welsh Government website for more information about apprenticeships http://wales.gov.uk/topics/educationandskills/skillsandtraining/apprenticeships/?lang=en

If you are living in Northern Ireland this is the link to Department for Education and Learning for more information on apprenticeships http://www.delni.gov.uk/apprenticeshipsni

If you are living Scotland following this link for more information on modern apprenticeship available http://www.skillsdevelopmentscotland.co.uk/our-services/modern-apprenticeships/

Getting In: 

There are no formal entry requirements, but some employers ask for GCSEs (A*-C), especially in science subjects, or a Level 1 Award, Certificate or Diploma in Horticulture.

Customer service experience and skills are also important and some employers may also look for this type of previous experience or qualifications in retail and/or sales.

It may also be possible to enter this career as an assistant Horticultural Production Worker or through an appropriate Apprenticeship programme. Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships provide structured training with an employer and will pay at least £107 per week.

Getting On: 

Horticultural Production Workers could progress to supervisory positions where they supervise the work of teams of Production workers.

If you wish to specialise within a particular area such as irrigation, soil, nutrition etc., you could gain technical experience and qualifications within a specific area and become a Horticultural Production Technician/Specialist with certain areas of responsibility.

Different areas in the UK specialise in particular types of production depending on the climate and soil.

There is also a range of jobs outside the immediate area of growing. Supermarkets require field officers to manage the need for a daily supply of fresh produce.

There are also the suppliers, who provide everything from packaging to spray chemicals, who need specialist advisers and research workers to develop new products.

Vacancies are advertised directly, through the local or national press or company websites.

Further Information: 

You can also find additional information from the following organisations and publications:

Industry Information

Publications, Magazines and Journals (Some may be priced):

  • Ranger Magazine
  • Countryside Magazine

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