The lockdown of March 2020 saw garden centres in the UK close overnight. With the UK’s sunniest spring on record approaching, and spring crops at the peak of their flowery readiness, suddenly nurseries across the country found themselves with almost no outlets through which to sell, and no customers able to buy. It was the perfect storm. Many nurseries faced difficult decisions with hundreds of thousands of plants primed and ready. It was with a heavy heart that with no market and no customers many of these plants were thrown away and turned into green waste, with many small growers unable to weather the storm. But there was a seed of hope from locals Jo and Peter through the work they do for Perennial.
Jo and Peter saw the need of people in their rural setting to get out in their gardens, enjoy the sun in the limited ways they were able, and feed their mental wellbeing in doing so. Both keen horticulturists and having had a behind the scenes tour whilst on the Perennial stand at Walberton Nursery’s LEAF Open Farm Sunday in 2019, Jo and Peter knew they must be able to tap into Tristram Plants to help their local community.
Since April 2020 Jo and Peter have saved thousands of plants and young veg from going to green waste – sometimes crawling through polytunnels themselves to salvage young plants, and even taking them out of the skip and putting pots back on them. Nursery staff and managers are super supportive of this new relationship, not just because it saves the plants they have grown being thrown away, but also because they know it’s helping such a good cause. Staff and managers alike frequently liaise with Jo and Peter and are always on hand to personally help them select and load up plants in all weathers. Staff responsible for growing crops have become really engaged with the whole process and are continually considering what else could be supplied as the season draws on, spending time to put together collections of plants.
By taking what was otherwise destined for the green waste and selling it to local villagers, they have raised a staggering £7500+ so far for Perennial, whose fundraising has suffered greatly as a result of lockdown. Midway through lockdown, the only area collecting substantial money for Perennial was here in the Southeast and this was purely down to the plants supplied from Tristram Plants nurseries.
Although garden centres have been fully open for months now, there is still, during the course of a normal growing cycle, a small element of waste at the end of a crop, so Tristram Plants will continue to support Jo and Peter to get plants into their rural community where people may otherwise be unable to travel.
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