Garden Organic, the UK's leading organic growing charity, has been at the forefront of the organic horticulture movement for 50 years and is dedicated to researching and promoting organic gardening, farming and food.
The charity was founded in 1954 by horticulturalist and freelance journalist Lawrence Hills and originally named after Henry Doubleday, an Essex based Quaker smallholder who had a particular interest in the properties of comfrey. The organisation was first based at Bocking, Essex hence the name of Bocking 14, a variety of comfrey bred by Hills for its useful properties.
Jackie and Alan Gear took over management of the charity in 1976, and in 1985 the organisation relocated to its present 22 acre headquarters at Garden Organic Ryton near Coventry in the West Midlands. The Gears retired in 2004, when Dr Susan Kay-Williams became the chief executive and the charity changed its name to Garden Organic. Dr Kay-Williams left in the summer of 2007 and the charity appointed Myles Bremner, former Director of Fundraising at childeren’s charity, NCH.
Garden Organic, which has over 40,000 supporters, celebrates 50 years at the forefront of organic horticulture in 2008 and reaches over three million beneficiaries across the world. It’s patron is HRH The Prince of Wales.
The charity has trained over 500 Master Composter volunteers from around the UK to spread the home composting message and runs major research and international development programmes that help commercial growers around the world adopt organic methods.
In addition to its involvement in the Food for Life Partnership the charity promotes and organises educational visits to Garden Organic Ryton and manages a free schools programme sponsored by Duchy.
It actively campaigns on issues vital to both people and the environment including health, sustainability and climate change. Garden Organic relies on funds from its supporters and members to carry out its work.
Garden Organic Ryton
The site near Ryton has over 30 individual gardens in ten acres of beautifully landscaped grounds and boasts Britain’s Best Organic restaurant and the world’s first public biodynamic garden. The site is also home to the Vegetable Kingdom, an award-winning organic shop and the charity’s renowned Heritage Seed Library, which conserves over 800 varieties of rare vegetable seeds to help protect them from extinction.