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the Yalding Organic Gardens Supporters' Website and Blog

YALDING ORGANIC GARDENS – A NEW START

MARO FOODS LIMITED is pleased to announce that it has been selected to be the new operator of Yalding Organic Gardens. Maro plan to develop the gardens into a centre of excellence for sustainable organic gardening. The gardens will also be a centre for organic/local produce. The gardens will offer not only tours of the existing organic gardens but also provide a well stocked shop and café with local and seasonal being the theme. The centre will also offer a full range of educational courses for gardening, food production and cooking all with an organic flavour.

The garden owners, The Congelow Educational Organic Trust said “We have selected Maro Foods to take control of the site based upon their commitment to local/organic principles. Their plans to expand and develop the gardens into a resource centre for the public to see, learn about and try organic and local produce impressed the trustees. This was supported by their demonstrable track record in developing their existing business to be one of the leading lights in local produce in the area.”

Steve Oram, director of Maro Foods, said “This is an excellent opportunity for us to further develop the organic principles applied at the centre and introduce our expertise in the local/organic produce market. The two functions merge together beautifully, and allow us to offer the residents of West Kent and beyond a centre for the demonstration and learning of organic principles as applied to gardening and food production. We truly intend the centre to be a place to grow, to eat, to learn. It will be an exciting addition to our successful local food business”

He added “The gardens and centre will re?open to the public on Saturday 24th May 2008. People can come to the centre, tour the gardens and see how to garden organically. They will be able to buy local produce, including vegetables from the gardens, and sample the food in our café. There will also be a full range of courses available for those who wish to learn more about organic gardening and produce.”

“Site formerly run by Garden Organic is to reopen”

From ‘Horticulture Week’ 17 April 2008

A former Garden Organic showcase garden will reopen under new management this spring.

A trustee from the Congelow Trust, which owns the Kent-based Yalding garden site, said the trust will open the garden in May or June following the appointment of new management this week. He added: “The principle of the garden will stay exactly the same. It will still be a demonstration organic garden, providing education on how to grow garden plants organically.”
Garden Organics had not been able to reopen the Yalding garden this year because of a shortfall in operating budgets for it. Garden Organic’s flagship garden at Ryton in Warwickshire and the vegetable garden at Audley End in Essex will remain open. The charity is aiming to employ the seven staff made redundant at Yalding within its other sites.
Campaigners who set up a website to save the Yalding garden claim that Garden Organic upset members by not disseminating enough information about the imminent closure of the Yalding site. Garden Organic member John Tate said: “We should be creating and opening more such places – not closing them down. In doing so, Garden Organic faces losing not only members, but also its credibility as an organisation.”
Garden Organic chief executive Myles Bremner added: “The garden had become a considerable drain on the charity’s resources and we had to make some difficult decisions in order to protect the future of the organisation and maintain our place at the forefront of organic horticulture.”
(The original article can be found here)

“…Over the past few months, Garden Organic has been ccnsidering how best to achieve its aim of getting as many people as possible to grow organically. Our demonstration gardens do inspire and educate as intended, but it has become evident that they an expensive resource and not necessarily ideal to achieve our aims. We need to target our income effectively and it is for that reason that, with regret, we have decided that we can no longer underwrite the operations at Garden Organic Yalding. These gardens will, therefore, not be opening for this summer and we are working with the owners of the land, the Congelow Trust, to determine what happens next.

I am writing to you in person, because you have in the past supported Garden Organic specifically at Yalding. Your support made a difference and helped inspire thousands of people who have visited the gardens over the years. Closing our operations at Yalding now will help us achieve the financial security to move forward with confidence and develop further our work with children, work in conserving the Heritage Seed Library’s precious seeds, work in developing countries and work in helping gardeners all over the country reduce their carbon footprint.

We very much appreciate your support in the past and hope you will continue to support Garden Organic. This has been a difficult and emotional decision but it means that Garden Organic can ensure it continues to maximise resources and reach as wide an audience as possible with the organic growing message.

I hope that we canlely on your continued support during this difficult period and in the future…”

“…Regrettably, I am writing to let you know that, after careful consideration and consultation with staff and key stakeholders, Garden Organic will be withdrawing from its current operation at our garden site in Yalding, Kent. This means we will not be reopening at the beginning of April 2008. Sadly the charity cannot afford to continue its operation as to do so would be putting our other charitable activities at risk.

As a charity, we rely solely on the support of you, our members, and other donors to fund the work of the organisation. This means we have a duty of care to ensure that funds are utilised in a way that will further the work of Garden Organic; to ensure the organic message reaches and educates as many people as possible.

While Garden Organic Yalding is a wonderful facility and certainly showcases the best in organic growing methods, it was becoming a considerable drain on the charity’s already limited resources, each visitor actually costing Garden Organic over £10 per person compared to the schools education programme which reaches over 1 million children in 4,000 schools for only £20 per school.

While we recognise the educational value that Garden Organic Yalding has brought, Garden Organic simply can no longer justify that level of expense, which is putting other valuable charitable activities at risk.

Presented with these facts we felt we had no other option but to take the difficult and emotional decision not to reopen Garden Organic Yalding for the forthcoming season.

We are in discussion with the Congelow Trust, who owns the site, to find a positive way forward so that the 12 years of investment in creating a beautiful organic garden will not be lost. Garden Organic is committed to finding a long-term solution, but we are no longer able to do this alone.

With grateful thanks for all your continued support,

Best regards,
Myles Bremner

Chief Executive
Garden Organic …”