From Galleries to Gardens
Kornelia Pawlukowska-Dible, 35, previously worked as a trainee chef and a freelance curator before deciding to return to education and study Horticulture at SRUC.
Tell us a bit about your past career:
I have had quite a diverse career.
After graduating with an MA in History (2008, Poland), and because I know English and French, I worked in Poland for companies such as HSBC and Cap Gemini mainly supporting their French customers.
In 2013, I met my husband and I moved to London, where I did an MA in Curating the Contemporary at the London Metropolitan University/Whitechapel Gallery, which I completed in 2015.
During my studies I organised several art exhibitions, interned in several art galleries and auction houses including Lyon & Turnbull in Edinburgh and London. I also worked in a tea shop in London, where I learned a lot about teas and herbs – where they come from and how they are grown. I found this by far the most interesting element of the job.
Since I came to the UK, I have developed a keen interest in food and the restaurant scene. Living in London for a couple of years I had a chance to eat food made by some of the most amazing chefs as well as when travelling all over Europe and Japan.
Based on these experiences, I did some training in a few kitchens in London, including Konditor, and worked as a trainee chef in a catering business in Scotland as well as in a new high-end restaurant in Edinburgh. I am grateful that as a result I got to know this part of the food industry better. It was a highly valuable experience as it taught me more about food, the importance of where it comes from and proper nutrition.
What led you to make the decision to change your career path?
I have always liked contact with nature and when I moved to Edinburgh, I started to take care of the unloved communal garden outside the apartment block where I live. Apart from a few overgrown, woody lavender bushes this garden looked empty and was covered with rubbish from a neighbouring bus stop.
Starting to care for this garden developed my curiosity to learn more about plants and gardening and to expand my interests in horticulture in general. I enjoyed it so much that I started thinking about gardening as a career path. I then decided to find a more established, professional garden where I could volunteer. In the summer of 2019, I volunteered in the gardens of the Greywalls Hotel in Gullane, where I worked with its highly experienced and knowledgeable head gardener.
Working at Greywalls, convinced me that I would really enjoy a career focused on plants and nature and as a result I enrolled on the SRUC HND in Horticulture full-time course in August 2019.
Why did you choose to study at SRUC?
I did some research and spoke with the head gardener at Greywalls Hotel and after that I decided that this course might be a good career option for me. I then attended one of the SRUC Opening Days at the end of August and took part in a guided tour around the facilities. I was very impressed with the possibility of having my own allotment and growing vegetables and plants and the teaching support that would be provided.
Tell us a bit about your experience at SRUC?
Coming to full-time education again required quite a bit of effort and organisation. At the beginning it was very intense and it took me some time to get used to the dynamic of studying and to be disciplined with all of the course deadlines.
I have completed the first term of the course and I already feel like I have learned a lot. I feel like I am progressing rapidly, and this experience is helping me to clarify what I really want to do after this course and where the opportunities that interest me are.
I have found the additional activities organised at my course to be really valuable, including the Horticultural Society, where I could visit some amazing places like for example the James Hutton Institute, as well as gardens and horticulture businesses, and I could hear about latest research, day to day work, and challenges.
I also really enjoyed the Horticulture Career Day organised recently in the Royal Botanical Garden in Edinburgh. It was interesting to listen to the speakers from the horticulture sector and I felt greatly encouraged that there are so many career opportunities. It was a very valuable experience.
How has your decision changed your life?
In recent months I have developed my interest in the best approaches to growing food. I believe that food production must be improved and that the world needs more professionals with the knowledge needed to grow healthy and nutritious food in a way that positively impacts the environment.
I believe that there is a big opportunity to grow healthy and happy food, which leads to happy and healthy people. This approach is vital if the world is going address one of the fundamental problems causing climate change.
Tell us three words to describe your life changing experience
Inspiring Learning Natural