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Garden Organic thanks volunteers at National Masters Conference

Garden Organic thanks volunteers at National Masters Conference

Garden Organic welcomed over 160 enthusiastic volunteers to the National Masters Conference at Ryton Gardens on the 30 June 2012.

Master Gardeners, Master Composters, and other wonderful champions came from across the UK to celebrate the ways they help people grow their own food and get composting.

Garden Organic’s Chief Executive Myles Bremner thanked every volunteer for their energetic and innovative outreach supporting people in their community.

We’re already thinking about next year’s conference on the 21st September 2013! Please click here to get in touch with your ideas.  In the meantime, this is what delegates said:

Very good choice of workshops. Too many good ones to pick!

Very efficient organisation. Lovely happy atmosphere.

Impressive control of weather!

Boosted my self-esteem in the role. Really inspirational

Thank you for the most brilliant and supportive day of education, resources and camaraderie.

Our huge thank to everyone involved in putting together this busy day – all the speakers, sponsors, technicians, workshop guides, organisers, and of course – volunteers from Garden Organic programmes and beyond.

Polly has her new book signed by BBC Blue Peter Gardener, Chris Collins

Preserving tips - every volunteer with a jar of long-lasting courgettes...

Garden Organic's Chief Executive Myles Bremner thanks the volunteers


Sun during outdoor fruit pruning workshop

Rain during our tea break!

Our official conference cakes! Olympic themed

Volunteers celebrate their graduation.

Please click here to see more conference photos (links to our Flickr set)

Story by Philip Turvil

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25 new School Master volunteers

25 new School Master volunteers

Volunteer Master Gardeners and Master Composters from across Garden Organic networks came to specialist schools training at Ryton Gardens on the 26 May 2012.

This exciting day looked at working with teachers and young people – what crops do and don’t work in schools, and how to start and sustain school food gardening. Volunteers also prepared presentations, assemblies, and group activities to demonstrate to the group.

The day was led by Rosie Grant and Ruth Hepworth from Garden Organic’s Food for Life Partnership education team.

Please click here to Garden Organic’s free resources for schools with the Food for Life Partnership – including courses for school professionals

Click here to see photos from this training and 2011 course

25 Master Gardeners and Master Composters

Swapping opinions

Mmmm, what crops when?

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We’re here to help! Now 400 Master Gardeners

We’re here to help! Now 400 Master Gardeners

86 new Master Gardeners are helping people grow food after five training weekends from March to May 2012.

There are now 400 active volunteers since Garden Organic begun the programme in April 2010.

There are Master Gardener networks in North London, South London, Norfolk and Warwickshire thanks to the Big Lottery Fund’s Local Food Scheme and in Lincolnshire thanks to the NHS.

Click here to read about our future areas.

We’ve recorded an amazing 10,500 hours so far by Master Gardeners with 34,000 food growing conversations and 3,300 people regularly supported. Ongoing research by Coventry University indicates lasting behavioural change…

Please click here for more figures and here for case studies about households and communities.

Each volunteer has individual support from our locally-based co-ordinators – and there’s more to do! Watch out for announcements as the lively networks keep developing.

Please click through to local news stories:

New North London Master Gardeners

Come on in! Warwickshire volunteers

Say ‘Seeds’: big smiles from South London

New Norfolk Master Gardeners are no April fools

New spring recruits in Lincolnshire!

Visit our Flickr photo collection

Many thanks

Philip, Kate, Gabbie, Fiona, Rick, Susan
The Master Gardener Programme Team

Get involved with the Master Gardeners Programme

Find out more about the UK’s leading organic growing charity Garden Organic

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Have your say – 2013 Organic Gardening Catalogue

Have your say – 2013 Organic Gardening Catalogue

Please tell us your views  and favourite seeds/products for the 2013 The Organic Gardening Catalogue.

Planning is underway for the next edition of this popular catalogue and Garden Organic are delighted to invite Master Gardeners, mentored households and communities to have their say to help fellow growers next year.

We love to have feedback from gardeners who have used seeds and products from the catalogue. Is there a variety you have grown, or product you have used, that has been particularly successful (or not?).

Are there things that you think we should include in the 2013 catalogue?

Click image to visit website

Please send your feedback to Pauline Pears:

Post: Garden Organic, Ryton Gardens Coventry, CV8 3LG

Email:, with 2012 catalogue in the subject line.

If you can supply an appropriate photo that would be even better.

It’s a bit early in the season for feedback on this year’s growing; comments later in the year are also welcome.

Further thoughts

The Organic Gardening Catalogue is the official catalogue of Garden Organic and a joint venture with Chase Organics in Hersham, Surrey, UK who have been suppliers to organic gardeners for over 80 years.

Fans of Grow Your Own magazine, which has a readership of around 143,000, have voted the Organic Gardening Catalogue as ‘The Best Mail Order Gardening Company’.

You don’t have to be a Garden Organic member to order from the Organic Gardening Catalogue, however, Garden Organic members receive a 10% discount on all goods. Click here for membership details.

Each purchase from the catalogue supports the charitable work of Garden Organic, so remember every order counts.

Click here for further details

Click here to visit the Organic Gardening Catalogue

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London 2012 launch Local Leaders with Master Gardeners

London 2012 launch Local Leaders with Master Gardeners

Garden Organic’s Ryton Gardens hosted London 2012’s ‘Local Leader’ West Midlands launch on the 3rd April 2012 with our Master Gardeners and Master Composters.

Our volunteers joined fellow community champions who have signed up free as Local Leaders to help people and communities create their own Game celebrations.

Top of the list is ‘Garden for the Games’! People are getting together to grow gold flowers to welcome the Olympic torch, or harvest London 2012 coloured veg for shared salads and BBQs during the opening and closing ceremonies.

More details…

London 2012 Mascot!

Cardinal Wiseman Catholic School and President Kennedy School joined the launch to plant red, white and blue flowering plants for a patriotic windowbox display. Keen students also shared their ideas for planting displays inspired by the Olympic Ring or Paralympic logos.

Already 8,500 people have signed up as Local Leaders around the UK to help celebrate the Games locally.

Huge thanks to London 2012, the Ryton Garden’s team, and all the wonderfully enthusiastic volunteers that led the West Midlands launch of this exciting campaign.

Special thanks also to Smith’s Nurseries where Mick Smith kindly donated bedding plants for our windowbox displays.

Read more…

President Kennedy School celebrate!

Community volunteers gather to plant London 2012 themed plants

Red, white and blue flowers donated by Smith's Nurseries

BBC Midlands Today film for their evening broadcast…

Smile! West Midlands London 2012 chair David Moorcroft, pupils from Cardinal Wiseman Catholic School and President Kennedy School, and Philip Turvil

Local Master Gardeners!

BBC Coventry and Warwickshire radio's, Keith Wedgbury interviews Local Leader and Master Gardener project manager, Philip Turvil

Extract from growing advice available from London 2012's Local Leader website

See more photos…

Local press coverage

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Volunteers excel at national Edible Garden Show

Volunteers excel at national Edible Garden Show

Garden Organic’s Master Gardeners hosted three exciting days of food growing advice at the national ‘Edible Garden Show’.

Over 13,000 visitors came to Stoneleigh Park in Warwickshire at the UK’s only national event for grow your own fruit and vegetables and home produce.

Warwickshire co-ordinator Kate Newman said: “It was really lively event! The Master Gardeners spoke to hundreds of visitors, helping them pot up lettuce and rocket plug plants in peat-free organic compost. With a mix of experienced and new growers, the Garden Organic stand was busy with growing questions and discussions.”

Kate continued: “The daily sessions held in ‘The Potting Shed’ were enjoyed by all, and people had a good go making a paper pot and sowing seeds. Master Gardeners, as always, had a great enthusiasm to talk about growing veg and a big thank you to them for being involved.”

Master Gardener Karen Webb said: “We had a wonderful time! Massive thanks to the team for setting up a space to be proud of.  I spoke to so many people I lost count!”

There were 24 lovely Master Gardeners as well as 12 delightful Master Composters. Even London and Lincolnshire Master Gardeners popped by to say hello, including husband and wife team Ian and Julie Cheverall and the charming Jim Barnes.

Diane and Milo potting with MG Rosemary

Find your nearest Master Gardener

Fancy becoming a Master Gardener?

Join the UK’s leading organic growing charity, Garden Organic

Visit the Edible Garden Show’s website

Read Philip Turvil’s show blog

Special thanks to Garden Organic’s Mark W, Mark H, Charlotte, David, Gaynor, Andy, Bob, Pauline, and many other fine folk from Ryton.

Master Gardeners Andy, Tom, Carla and Christine with keen growers at the Garden Organic stall

Grow Your Own, anyone? Shot from inside the first of two huge halls

Warwickshire Master Gardener co-ordinator Kate Newman in full flow! She's looking for more Master Gardeners...

Master Composter co-ordinator David (right) chatting compost, of course, as well as Garden Organic membership

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Become a Local Leader with London 2012

Become a Local Leader with London 2012

Garden Organic is inviting our networks of volunteer Master Gardeners and Master Composters to become ‘Local Leaders’ for the Games.

As the UK’s leading organic growing charity, we use innovation and inspiration to get more people growing in the most sustainable way.

We’re engaging 1,000 of our local champions to celebrate the Games with their community. Some of our volunteers mentor a street’s worth of neighbours, while others transform landscapes in schools, shared gardens and housing estates.

Master Gardener project manager, Philip Turvil, has signed up as a Local Leader: “I’m excited by communities growing and sharing their tasty veg to celebrate the Games. From snug windowsills to shared gardens and allotments, there’s a space for London 2012 coloured veg to harvest for family events and communal feasts.”

Get involved today

  1. Click here to tell us your idea for tempting your community
  2. Sign up here to become a ‘Local Leader’ with Garden for the Games
    Free email registration with top-tips and updates from
  3. Get in touch to share your photo stories from households and shared food growing.

Read Local Leader case studies

Tips for Local Leaders on how they might ‘Garden for the Games’

Grow edible golden marigolds
Perfect for when the Olympic Torch Relay comes to your street or town.
Add yellow chard, golden lettuce, or tasty pot marigolds (links open PDFs)

Grow a champions’ feast for a London 2012 party
Swap seeds and plants with friends, family and communities to grow and share varieties with just the right colours…

Grow flowers!
Plant in team colours to support your athletes or teams training in your area. Plant your own Olympic Rings or Paralympic Agitos in your garden

Grow a colourful wildflower meadow
Small strip in your garden or a large patch in a community area – which doubles as a haven for bees and other wildlife, like the golden meadows around the Olympic Stadium

Share moments
Support a communal event or invite your mentored households for a cup of tea, salad, or BBQ!
How about a carrot-relay or ‘onion and spoon race’…
18 May – 27 July: line the streets as the flame is coming to a town near you.
27 July: show-time with the opening ceremony
4 August: record breaking weekend with ‘Super Saturday’
9 September: celebrate the summer with the last day of the games.

The Master Gardener and Master Composter programmes are grant funded managed by Garden Organic. Participation for all involved is free. Please click here to contact Philip Turvil with questions.

The ‘Local Leaders’ programme invites people across the UK to create their own Games celebrations. Please visit for details and the Local Leader charter.
Local Leaders imagery on this webpage courtesy of London 2012. All rights reserved.

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You’ve got mail! Questionnaires posted

You’ve got mail! Questionnaires posted

We’ve sent out 400 questionnaires this week to the Master Gardeners and the lovely people they mentor to grow their own food.

We’re working with Coventry University to monitor and evaluate the health, social and environmental impacts of the programme.

It’s very exciting with intriguing questions – and already intriguing findings from our autumn research.

More details coming soon…

Look out for your questionnaire in the post if:

  • You’re a householder registered by your Master Gardener between November 2010 to April 2011.
  • A Master Gardener trained in spring 2011.

Please return by the 12th March 2012.

We’re planning interviews and focus groups during March and April 2012.

More questionnaires planned for autumn 2012.

Alona and Susan planting apple trees in Mayow Park

Find out more -
Autumn research and the pilot findings with Coventry University.

Get involved -
Register for your 12 months free growing advice or become a Master Gardener

Read latest numbers and case studies

Who’s who?

Master Gardeners

Volunteers recruited, trained, and supported by Garden Organic to mentor registered ‘householders’ – individuals, couples and families wanting to start growing food or grow more at home and on communal land.

Garden Organic

We’re the UK’s leading organic growing charity, dedicated to promoting organic gardening in homes, communities and schools.

Coventry University

Researchers in the health, environmental and social impact of local food systems at the Applied Research Centre in Sustainable Regeneration (SURGE) and the Centre for Agroecology and Food Security (CAFS).

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Team meeting at Ryton Gardens

Team meeting at Ryton Gardens

The Master Gardener team got together last week at Ryton Gardens to plan exciting moments for our lovely volunteers.

Kate, Kate, Gabbie, Fiona, Rick and I gathered at the home of Garden Organic for two days, merrily planning how best to recruit, train and support the enthusiastic networks of Master Gardeners and the households they support to grow food.

And here’s what we came up with:

Our second day was with the lovely Master Composter team – Jane, David and David, alongside other Garden Organic folk.

Pictured top left – Tour by sustainable waste manager, Jane Griffiths, of the new compost demonstration garden at Ryton Gardens.

Many thanks


Philip Turvil
Project Manager, Master Gardener programme

Visit Garden Organic’s Master Composter networks near you

Get involved with Garden Organic Heritage Seed Library

Find out more about Garden Organic

Team at Ryton Gardens during a tour with the Heritage Seed Library manager, Neil Munro. We then went inside to warm up and meet seed officer, Vicki Cooke for her top seed-saving-tips.

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Celebration as programme extended by six months

Celebration as programme extended by six months

Another 80 volunteers will support hundreds more people in the UK to grow their own food thanks to a six month extension of the Master Gardener programme.

This is thanks to the ongoing support from the Big Lottery Fund’s Local Food scheme, together with Sheepdrove Trust and our local authority partners. The current programme will now run from September 2009 to February 2013.

The programme team at Garden Organic, the UK’s leading organic growing charity, are delighted to announce the following plans to make the most of this special opportunity.

What this extension means: please click links for details

Find out what’s happening near you:

Plus Lincolnshire training, funding by the NHS supported ‘Health and Wellbeing Fund’.

Visit Garden Organic’s Master Composter networks near you

Find out more about Garden Organic

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Photos on flickr