It’s starting to feel a lot like spring here in Manchester and episode 9 of the Tuesday Feature was the perfect excuse to go enjoy the sun! In this week’s episode we interview David Grantham who is the overseer of the Firs Experimental Garden in Fallowfield. The interview, which was shot in the beautiful gardens, will show you why the Firs Experimental Garden really is Manchester’s “hidden gem”.

In ten sentences or less, what is your role in the Faculty?

My role here in the faculty is to oversee the research, teaching and outreach that is undertaken at the botanical grounds. A lot of scientific papers come from plant experiments that are planted here. The grounds have been here a long time in the faculty but there a bit of a hidden gem because not everyone knows we have these facilities here. I want to try to promote the grounds so that people can get the most use out of them – they can grow their plants here and enter the Smith Quad competition. We also invite a number of schools to come and look around the facilities to hopefully inspire them to take up plant sciences. Daivd next to tree

How does this role benefit the person reading the blog?

I think it’s crucial what we do here. I’ve always worked in the horticulture industry and I can see how important plants are. They always seem to be the area that is funded least and it is often laughed at by other people. The more we discover about science, the more we realise the fact that we rely on plants. We are a type 0 civilisation where we rely on plants and animals to survive. I think to pull money from plant science is silly and it is only now that humanity is starting to see the true value of the environment we live in.

How did you first get interested in horticulture?

David with HoseI think it was from school. We had trips out to places with outreach facilities – similar to the botanical gardens. From there I did a YTS (youth training scheme) in studying city and guilds horticulture which I really liked. I then went into working with sports turf, interior landscaping and various other areas of horticulture that has benefited my knowledge for this role.

Do you have any science heroes? Who inspired you?

No one in particular.

Obviously there’s a lot of great scientists like Einstein who had great minds and high IQ’s. I tend to try and not glorify the past too much because I think that stuff that is going on now – even within FLS – is quite amazing. I think we might see a few more heroes in the future which might be alive today. Some of the research done here and the papers that have been published are really important.

How has working in Manchester helped you?

I think it has been great. I’ve always worked within some aspect of horticulture and I have always been curious about why we do certain practices. To come and actually see the science and to work with the research has really answered a few questions for me and helped my curiosity. Also the teamwork that’s involved in the faculty –it’s a great place to work. I’ve met some really good people from working here.

What do you do outside of work?

When I’m not gardening at home, I play in a band. I have done since I’m 18. I really like music. I also play football within the University. On Wednesday’s I play 5 a-side football with members of the University – it’s always important to stay fit and football is the one that doesn’t feel like a lot of work because it’s fun! I’m also interested in astrophysics alongside life science.

And that wraps up another episode of the Tuesday Feature! Our thanks go to David who gave us a beautiful afternoon out in the sun! On Wednesday 6th  May, David is hosting a technicians seminar titled ‘Not Green Fingered? An introduction to Horticulture’ at 1pm in A.V. Hill. He’d love to have you there! 

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