In September last year we sent a letter, inserted within The Organic Way, informing you of our plans to look at the future options for the site at Ryton which would release the charity from the financial challenge of owning and managing the full site – including the land and buildings beyond the demonstration gardens. Each year the costs of the site, including maintaining the buildings, the facilities and the gardens, increase, and this is putting a strain on our ability to carry out other charitable work across the UK.
We are considering a number of different options, including a full sale, partial sale or partnership. As part of this process the site has been marketed by property advisors with indicative expressions of interest received in February.
We have now started meeting with interested parties to talk through their proposals and understand what they might mean for the charity. Each option will be assessed on the value it would offer to Garden Organic, both financial and non-financial, in terms of helping us continue and expand our work.
We expect this to be a long and complex process with any change unlikely to come into effect this year. At the moment it is still too early to present the options we have and what these might mean to Garden Organic, however we hope to be in a position to share more information by the summer.
Across the country we are running or supporting organic growing projects which are changing lives. From our Food Poverty project in the London Borough of Southwark, where we help people to supplement their diets with home-grown organic veg, to our composting education work in Cumbria, tackling the challenges of sustainably managing household waste in a rural setting. From our work in the Heritage Seed Library conserving and sharing the valuable genetic resource of previous generations’ vegetables varieties, to our school education work inspiring the next generation to grow their own organic and sustainable food.
This work, along with our advice provided to members and non-members via our website, magazine, factsheets, events and more, is taking the important organic message directly to people, including many who simply do not have the means to travel to a garden such as Ryton. It is this outreach and advisory work that we would love to do more of. We know that when we show people how to grow organically in their own space, be that a tiny urban window ledge or a large rural garden, in the north of Scotland or the temperate south coast, we can provide advice that directly changes attitudes and behaviour. This is where we see the future for Garden Organic.
Due to the legal constitution of the charity, decisions of this kind must be made by the Board of Trustees, who are all long-term members elected from the membership base. We would however, like to continue hearing your views on which elements of our work matter most to you and how you think the charity should move forward. This information will be used to inform the decision-making process. Comments can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or The Trustees, c/o Garden Organic, Wolston Lane, Coventry, CV8 3LG. All comments submitted previously have already been fed back to the Board of Trustees.
We will also be offering the opportunity for discussion at our AGM on Friday 18th May at Ryton Organic Gardens. To ensure we cover as many viewpoints as possible, and can hear from those unable to attend, we will be accepting questions in advance of the meeting. If you have any thoughts or enquiries that you would like to share – positive, negative or indifferent – please send these to us via the email or postal address above.
As and when we have further updates we will continue to share them via our website, www.gardenorganic.org.uk/news and print communications.
CEO, Garden Organic