Over the months that followed the charity received a number of proposals from parties interested in acquiring the Ryton site. These proposals were for a variety of uses, including housing and business developments.
More detailed conversations and negotiations then took place with a shortlist of these interested parties. We also invited feedback from our members. These discussions were overseen by the Board of Trustees and were conducted in accordance with Charity Commission guidelines.
We have now narrowed down our short-list to one preferred partner - Coventry University.
Coventry University and Garden Organic are now in advanced talks about the sale of the site. Whilst there is still the possibility that this may change, we are aiming to secure the long-term future of the charity and strengthen the longstanding relationship between our two organisations.
Garden Organic and Coventry University have worked together in a number of ways, going back to the 1980s when, just after the charity moved to the Midlands, it was quickly established that the university had expertise in areas such as plant science, food systems and geography that could complement the resources of Garden Organic.
Today, the university’s Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience (formerly the Centre for Agroecology and Food Security) is based at Ryton, and continues to work collaboratively with the charity on a number of projects.
During the process of gathering members’ views we received three very clear messages; first, that selling the Ryton site to housing developers should be considered only as a very last resort; secondly, that we should continue to demonstrate organic growing ourselves in some form, and lastly, the priceless conservation work of the Heritage Seed Library should be protected.
We have listened carefully to these views, and can confirm that this option rules out selling the site to a housing developer. We are also working towards an outcome that will enable us to continue demonstrating organic growing, and would protect the priceless work of the Heritage Seed Library.
We expect negotiations to continue over the coming months, which means there are inevitably questions we are unable to answer immediately. As this process proceeds, the charity’s work will continue as normal.
As and when we have more information we will keep you updated via The Organic Way and our website. In the meantime, you can continue to share your views by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or writing to James Campbell, CEO, at Ryton Gardens, Wolston Lane, Coventry, CV8 3LG. Garden Organic members will be sent a copy of this information by email and with the Autumn/Winter issue of The Organic Way, due at the beginning of October.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your patience as we continue to work through this process. We know we can rely on your continued support as we work towards the next chapter for Garden Organic.
We have updated our Questions and Answers, you can read them here.