The Apprentice: swapping an office job for the great outdoors
To mark National Apprenticeship Week we spoke to the latest Trinity Hall apprentice Oscar Wright who joined the gardens team in 2019. He tells us about what gardening means to him and reveals the best vegetables grown in the College's 'secret garden'.
I started my apprenticeship at Trinity Hall in September 2019, when I was 24. Before working here I was living in Athens, Greece, where I taught English and also had a very boring job making photocopies in the basement of a law firm.
What appealed to you most about taking a gardening apprenticeship?
I wanted to take a gardening apprenticeship for a number of reasons; firstly, and least interestingly, I had reached a point where I was no longer satisfied with a kind of youthful wandering aimlessness; I wanted both to become a respectable member of society and obtain some skills that might be useful. This however, is an inadequate materialist justification; I do believe that gardening has a role in developing the human spirit. In short, plants are very charismatic and we ought to listen to them.
What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned during your apprenticeship so far?
Probably a certain amount of discipline, and the importance of taking pride in your work.
How do you hope your career will progress as a result of the apprenticeship?
Real career progression will come once I finish the apprenticeship; there are a lot of very exciting opportunities in the horticultural sector which I will be well placed to pursue.
What’s your favourite part of the Trinity Hall gardens?
There is a secret vegetable patch around the corner of Coote House at Wychfield which has a special place in my heart. We managed to grow some very fine beetroot last year. I think that the soil here must produce the tastiest beetroot the world over; nothing I have tried matches it.
What’s the best thing about Trinity Hall?
I like the way the Jerwood Library looks like the bow of a ship jutting out into the river.
What’s the best thing about your job?
The best thing about my job is that I get work outside in natural environments all year round; I can appreciate the movement of the seasons and the delicate beauty of nature with far greater recognition than I would otherwise.
What’s the best thing about working in an academic environment?
I think its excellent that staff are allowed access to the libraries, both of the College and the University. I know that many people are very rude about the architectural style of the University Library, but I think it is a pleasingly obdurate addition to a rather bland Cambridge skyline.
What do you find funny/unusual about working in a Cambridge college?
In the Wychfield gardens we have a number of foxes, all of whom seem to have developed into thieves of unusual skill and dexterity with a particular taste for single shoes. Over the course of the summer, we found a fair few scattered all across the garden, as well as a pair of binoculars, presumably used only to locate more shoes to steal.