Here’s how it’s done, and it’s all for free. . .

TEN out of ten enthusiastic learners pitched up at Offshoots in Burnley to start IET’s five-week course on the basics of fruit and vegetable growing.

After a cuppa and an introduction to this permaculture project, which works with nature rather than against it to produce organic fruit and vegetables, course leader Phil Dewhirst led a fascinating tour of the site before getting down to some hands-on work building a raised bed, a great way to grow your own food where space is limited.

Week two saw learner Rebecca Paul sowing vegetable seeds: “We laid down some turnips and learnt all about the benefits of green manure. It’s been really interesting and enjoyable,” she said.

This is just one of the seven IET courses run in partnership with Calderdale Adult Learning, covering a wide range of foodie topics and running from now until May.

A one day workshop on pruning saw keen fruity folk battle through the snow to learn from Clifford Cain, of the Northern Fruit Group, about how to look after fruit trees and bushes to ensure bumper crops.

Despite the chill, Keith Wilson said the course had been “very interesting and helpful”. Clifford will have everyone grafting hard next weekend on another one-day workshop on propagating fruit trees for themselves.

“We’ve been delighted with the interest in these courses,’ said IET’s John Stewart, who set them up.

“Almost all them have been oversubscribed so we hope to run more in the future. And best of all, everyone has had a great time learning valuable new skills.”

Edible fungi, domestic herbal medicine and beekeeping are full now but there are still some places left for OL14 residents on the grafting course this coming Saturday, March 12. And there are places available on Health Buzz. Hop onto the Big Blue Bus - a converted double decker with a mini-gym and cooking facilities! – where you can talk to professionals about healthy diets, manageable exercise routines and have a go on the equipment while you’re there.

Contact or ring her on 07736 683 268 for further information. All the courses are free – an opportunity not to be missed.