Ryton Gardens latest – 23 Feb 2018

Dear Local Group Member

In September last year we sent a letter, with The Organic Way magazine, to all members informing them of the Board of Trustees decision to explore options for our headquarters site at Ryton. We are looking to secure the long-term future of the charity and release the financial pressures from owning and managing the land and buildings.

As part of the exercise to understand what future options the organisation has, the site has been marketed by property advisors, with expressions of interest received from a number of different parties and for a variety of purposes.

At the moment these expressions of interest contain only headline information with minimal detail. The next step will be to meet with interested parties and begin discussions to understand the detail behind each one. This will be a complex and potentially lengthy process but as and when we have any further updates we will continue to publish them on our website.

The Board of Trustees will evaluate the options available on the merit of their ability to protect the future of the charity. They will be considering all elements of our charitable work to ensure we are in a position of strength to continue and expand the work which delivers the most charitable benefit, both to our members and our project beneficiaries.

As you will be aware, Garden Organic is a national charity with a mission to encourage people to grow organically. We have over 20,000 members across the UK who access information and advice from our website, magazines and newsletters, and through our outreach work. At our base at Ryton we have an organic demonstration garden open to the public, plus a number of buildings which we manage.

In recent years, it has become clear to the Trustees that the running costs of the full site at Ryton are limiting our ability to operate to our full potential. The site is expensive to run and means that we are unable to fund as many projects as we would like in other parts of the country where we believe we could make a real difference. In addition visitor numbers to the site have dropped as there are now many different inspirational sites across the country where organic gardening can be seen in practice.

We currently undertake some outreach work through our amazing volunteer Master Composters, Master Gardeners, Growing Buddies and Food Buddies to support individuals, community gardens, schools and horticultural therapy projects at grassroots level across the UK. Our Heritage Seed Library is also going from strength to strength, with the support of our volunteer Seed Guardians, and we are building partnerships with venues to showcase varieties with local and historical relevance. We would like to do much more of this outreach work, which spreads the organic message far and wide.

Garden Organic has had to evolve many different times since it began. It is this willingness to move forward that has allowed the organisation to continue for 60 years, and will put it in the best position to continue for 60 more.

I would be happy to attend one of your group’s forthcoming meetings, to explain the charity’s position in more detail and answer any questions you may have. If you would like to take up this offer please contact Trish Henderson at phenderson@gardenorganic.org.uk with potential dates. Please could you also share this message amongst your group’s members?


We will continue to provide updates via our website and The Organic Way, and any comments or questions on this can be submitted via email to questions@gardenorganic.org.uk.

Yours sincerely,

James Campbell
Garden Organic CEO