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Have your say – Organic Gardening Catalogue

Have your say – Organic Gardening Catalogue

Please tell us your best performing varieties and products for the 2012 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 2012 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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National conference celebrates Masters volunteers

National conference celebrates Masters volunteers

Over 150 enthusiastic Master Composters and Master Gardeners gathered at Garden Organic’s Ryton Gardens on 15 May 2011 to celebrate achievements and swap ideas.

We’re thoroughly delighted by this first joint conference bringing together volunteers from across the county and across Masters programmes.

Quotes from folk attending…

“Great to work with people that are so committed”

“Thoroughly enjoyed whole day. Look forward to graduating next year!”

“You have given me more inspiration to share with people in my community”

“A great day, thank you. All speakers excellent and inspirational. Venue and food fabulous.”

Morning registration was followed by speeches from Margi Lennartsson, Jane Griffiths (pictured far right) and Philip Turvil celebrating the power of volunteers helping local communities to compost and grow their own food.

Peter Smithers from the University of Plymouth then shared findings from his Bug Survey of what’s in your compost… and led following workshops.


A wonderful array of workshops begun with vigour following a cup of tea…
(L to R: Philip Turvil, Gwen Powell, Jane Griffiths)


Lunch was followed by Chief Executive of Garden Organic, Myles Bremner thanking volunteers for all their terrific work.

Myles went on to introduce Garden Organic’s new peat campaign with guest speakers: Pauline Pears, Margi Lennartsson, Ulrich Schmutz, and RHS’s Paul Alexander.

Then followed more workshops and a speakers session with: Emma Marsh (WRAP) (pictured right), Mary Clear (Incredible Edible Todmorden), and Colin Tudge (Campaign for Real Farming)

And not forgetting the wonderful Master Composter and Master Gardener Awards and Graduations – and keenly anticipated cake cutting. (More about Master Composter Awards; more about Master Gardener awards)

Huge THANK YOU to everyone involved in the putting together the Master Composter and Master Gardener Conference 2011 – all the organisers, speakers, sponsors, technical, helpers, and of course – volunteers for Garden Organic programmes and beyond – the local champions.

Special thanks to lead organiser and Master Composter project co-ordinator, Gary Marsland, for his tireless efforts for months beforehand and on the day. Marvellous.

We look forward to seeing you everyone again for our next conference.

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

Click here to find out more about Master Gardeners

Click here to find out more about Master Composters

Story by Philip Turvil

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Master Gardeners win awards!

Master Gardeners win awards!

Huge congratulations to Master Gardeners for winning awards at the National Masters Conference 2011.

Over 150 keen Master Gardeners, Master Composters and other volunteer champions gathered at Garden Organic’s Ryton Garden on Sunday 15 May 2011 to celebrate achievements in helping communities.

The judges had a tough time choosing the winners. They ploughed through a huge number of nominations sent in by fellow volunteers, the co-ordination team, and our partners. Winners were greeted by national author Pauline Pears.

So, we’re hugely proud of the following winners – as we are hugely proud of every volunteer. Whether in Warwickshire, Islington, South London, Norfolk, or Lincolnshire – and however they support communities and households to grow their own food. It’s all marvellous.

Please click here to read more about the Master Gardener role and here for case studies.

The Individual Master Gardener Achievement Award

This award was given to an individual Master Gardener who has gone beyond expectation in his/her promotional activities, either due to the amount of time or effort that they have devoted to their volunteering or the exceptional results that they have achieved.


Christine Flack, South London
Beverley Page,
3rd place: Jean Brown, South London
2nd place: Claire Benson, South London

The Group Master Gardener Achievement Award

This award was given to a group of Master Gardeners that have shown how the whole can be more than the sum of its parts by forming an effective and cohesive group, which has helped to either improve the efficiency of a scheme or had a particularly significant impact locally.

3rd place: Norfolk Master Gardeners
2nd place: Whitecross Goes Green Gardening Club, Islington

The Master Gardener Innovation Award

This award recognises innovation by either an individual or a group within the Master Gardener programme. Innovative ideas come in many forms, but the judges will look particularly favourably upon those ideas that have the potential to be replicated across other schemes.

Commendations: Harry Holmes, South London
3rd place: Joe & Margaret Guttridge, Warwickshire
2nd place: Steve Hankin, Norfolk
(collected by Mark’s co-ordinator Kate Fenhalls)

The ‘Masters’ Award

This award recognises exceptional achievement by a volunteer – possibly supporting both the Master Composter and Master Gardener programmes or simply acting as an inspiration to others through their efforts in either scheme. Someone who has already been nominated for the Achievement Award can also be put forward for this award.

3rd place: John & Sandy Young,
Warwickshire Master Composters & Master Gardeners
2nd place: Kim Garner,
Warwickshire Master Composter & Master Gardener

Commendations: Christine FlackCommendations:    Christine Flack South London
Beverley Page Norfolk 3rd place:       Jean Brown South London 2nd place:    Claire Benson South London 1ST PLACE:    TED HATWOOD WARWICKSHIRE South London
Beverley Page Norfolk
3rd place: Jean Brown South London
2nd place: Claire Benson South London

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Delighted: 100 new Master Gardeners this spring

Delighted: 100 new Master Gardeners this spring

We’ve welcomed an amazing  100  new volunteers this March and April to help people grow their own fruit and veg.

They join an enthusiastic network of over 240 terrific Master Gardeners supporting communities throughout Warwickshire, Norfolk, Islington, and South London (Wandsworth, Lambeth, and Southwark).

This is thanks to our pilot funding and local partners – which now includes Lincolnshire with the launch of this new Health and Wellbeing funded programmme in Boston and East Lindsey.

How exciting.

Please click the links to read the local stories

Warwickshire – New Master Gardeners trained at Garden Organic

Islington – 30 new Master Gardeners trained

Norfolk – Our newest Master Gardeners

South London – Twenty new Master Gardeners for South London

Lincolnshire – First Master Gardeners!

Master Gartdeners support their ‘wider communities’ with events, talks, articles, and lots of innovative means.

They also mentor 10 registered ‘households’ each, who receive regular food growing advice – whether at  home, an allotment, community garden, school, or by email and phone.

Click here to find your local Master Gardener

Click here to find others ways to get involved

Interested in funding/supporting a new Master Gardener programme? Click here

We’ll publish the latest stats and case studies soon…

The Master Gardeners were still busy over winter and the sunny spring has encouraged lots of folk to get growing. See previous stats here.

But before that: a huge thank you to the Master Gardener co-ordination team. Kate, Kate, Gabbie, Fiona and Rick are out and about locally, recruiting, training, and supportng our lovely Master Gardeners. Click here to read about them and see photos of all Master Gardeners.

Until our next update,


Philip Turvil
Project Manager

Seed sowing Master Gardeners

Seed sowing Master Gardeners

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BBC features Masters of Gardening…

BBC features Masters of Gardening…

Our thanks to the BBC for inviting project manager Philip Turvil to write for their gardening blogs about our wonderful Master Gardeners – volunteers who help local people and communities grow their own food.

Click here to read the blog (link directs to BBC)

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Hundreds of new growers

Hundreds of new growers

Huge thanks to Master Gardeners who helped so many new growers get growing at the Edible Garden Show during 18-20 March.

Our volunteers signed up hundreds of people to Garden Organic’s One Pot Pledge campaign, giving away seedlings freshly potted up by keen visitors.

We had pots, plants, compost and labels, on wheelbarrows and tables at the Garden Organic stand and in a special ‘Potting Shed’ arena. There was plenty of growing advice and tales from the veg patch.

Signing up to the One Pot Pledge! Master Gardener Rosemary chats with show visitor Viv

Huge thanks also to wonderful Master Composters that were out in force with their compost bins and wormeries. They tempted growers to get composting and answered questions.

We also sold Garden Organic memberships! Get your offer here…

Philip Turvil gave a lively talk in the experts theatre about becoming an organic grower. Then Bob Sheman delighted crowds on Saturday talking fruit and Pauline Pears sorted out pest and disease problems on Sunday.

There are regular Master Gardener events in every programme area. Click here to find your local volunteer

National charity Garden Organic have lots of exciting events coming up too. Click here for the latest listings…

Garden Organic's stand at the Edible Garden Show

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Another 50 new Master Gardeners!

Another 50 new Master Gardeners!

Were delighted to welcome new volunteers in Islington and Warwickshire to help local people and communities grow their own food.

The new Master Gardeners are already offering 12 months free food growing advice to friends, neighbours and communities as registered ‘households’. Everything from windowsill herbs to new allotments – they believe everyone can grow their own!

The lovely new volunteers are also out and about reaching the wider community through events, talks, schools and more local, innovative means. Last year, Master Gardeners spoke to nearly 10,000 people!

Click here to read the Islington story

Click here to read the Warwickshire story

Find your nearest Master Gardener

Last places for new Master Gardeners in Norfolk, South London and Lincolnshire. Click here!

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February training launches Master Gardener season

February training launches Master Gardener season

We welcomed volunteers from every programme this month with extra training days to kick start the food growing season.

Fuelled by cups of tea and free comfrey roots, there were four courses over two weekends filled with horticultural topics requested by Master Gardeners, including advanced sowing and ways to keep growing media fertile in containers. We also focused on how active listening skills help mentor a household or community group to grow food successfully. We then shared the many different resources available to volunteers.

Many thanks to all the Master Gardeners for our enthusiastic discussions! Special thanks to volunteers who took to the stage to share stories, our local community venues, and of course – to our co-ordinators Kate, Gabbie, Kate, and Fiona for all their hard work.

Read the local stories

Click here to read about our November 2010 course

Next up is our National Conference in May. Visit back soon for more details…

Like to become a Master Gardener? We’re recruiting now.
Click the link for more information

Master Gardeners John and Sandy show their newly made windowsill reflector, complete with paper pots!

MG Caroline researches the horticultural resources available to volunteers for advising their households.

What to grow when - deciding what crops suit different growing conditions for households and community groups

Making windowsill light reflectors and paper pots - all from recycled items. Great organic growing for households

Active listening and horticultural debates, Islington Master Gardeners discuss

South London Master Gardeners!

Something funny about container growing...

Adjusting sowing and growing times for householders in London...

MG Allen presenting his volunteering efforts in a local children's centre where local families are growing food.

Written by Philip Turvil

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Norfolk Master Composters help 20,000 people

Norfolk Master Composters help 20,000 people

Garden Organic’s Master Composter scheme has just hit a milestone in Norfolk – engaging 20,000 people across the region.

Well done to all of our lovely volunteer Master Composters – you’ve done a brilliant job – keep up the good work!

Click to read EDP article

Click here to read the story in Eastern Daily Press.
Article and photos (C) EDP 2010. All rights reserved.

Find out more about Norfolk Master Composters

Master Gardeners

Read how Master Composters inspired Master Gardeners…

Get involved with Norfolk Master Gardeners
This is an exciting new volunteer network in partnership with Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse.

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Final March recruitment for new Master Gardeners

Final March recruitment for new Master Gardeners

We’re looking for gardening enthusiasts to become  Master Gardeners in five areas to help communities grow their own food. New Master Gardeners will join a 140 strong network of marvellous volunteers who:

  • mentor and inspire individuals, couples and families to grow food. Over 350 registered households with 1,000 residents since May 2010
  • talk to the wider community through events, talks, schools, and other innovative means. Nearly 9,000 conversations since May 2010

Volunteers trained April 2010

The details

Master Gardeners have full training and ongoing support. Volunteers enjoy genuine local impact in a role to complement their lifestyle and interests.

We’re very proud of our volunteers. Please click here to read more about their achievements.

Click here to read case studies and here to photos from the latest February 2011 extra training days

Click links to read more:
Volunteer role, experience, hours, training, support, and application… and case studies from existing Master Gardeners

More training dates in Autumn 2011

Your area not listed?

Click image to get involved

We’re looking to start new Master Gardener volunteer networks in more counties and London boroughs with new local partners and funding, tailored to local needs.
Please click here to see our future areas page

Click for more ways to get involved, including growing tips

See Master Gardener page on Garden Organic’s website

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Photos on flickr