Growing for health and sustainability

GARDENING, climate change, the environment and well-being were all on the agenda at the annual conference of the Garden Centre Association, for an event organised by new chairman Mike Burks, of the Gardens Group (with garden centres at Sherborne, Yeovil and Poundbury).

The speakers included Buddhist monk and meditation teacher, Gelong Thubten, Sir Tim Smit, co-founder of the Eden Project, and Olympic gold medallist Colonel Dame Kelly Holmes.

Stepping into his role as the head of a trade organisation that represents nearly 200 garden centres nationwide, Mike Burks worked with the board of elected directors to ensure sure that practical solutions concerning climate change, the environment and wellbeing were offered to the 300 delegates.

With creative ideas for businesses to address their carbon footprint from Trewin Restorick, founding CEO of environmental issues charity Hubub, hard-hitting facts about the trajectory of climate change from writer, broadcaster and film maker, Paul Mason, and helpful meditation techniques from Gelong Thubten, the programme was designed to inspire topical conversation and help garden centres ensure that they are tackling the issues of today.

Mike, who has spent the past three decades running the three multi award-winning garden centres in Dorset and Somerset, says: “I was keen to demonstrate the role that the industry can play in protecting wildlife and the environment, as well as bringing people together through gardening to promote better health and wellbeing.

“We are in an enviable position, in that so many trends and needs of the modern world cross our path, so we must work together to make the most of these opportunities as awareness of the plight of our planet grows and conversations about mental health continue to gain prominence.”

Castle Gardens will host a talk of growing for health, on Wednesday 11th March, at 2.30pm, by nutritionist and horticulturalist Liz Hutson. Having researched the link between health and gardening for many years, Liz will suggest vital steps that can be taken at home, no matter the size of the outdoor space, not only to improve health and wellbeing for the whole family but also combat the plight of the planet.

With a look at the extensive and often unappreciated physical and mental benefits of gardening, the importance of nurturing soil and the range of nutrient-rich plants that can have a positive impact on people and wildlife, this afternoon session will offer practical solutions to gardeners of all levels of expertise, helping them to tackle the ever present issues surrounding sustainability and wellbeing.

Proceeds will go to Greenfingers, a charity which supports children who spend time in hospices.

Pictured: Mike Burks, © Garden Centre Association