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Grow Well West Cumbria is a Community Interest Company which aims to connect people through gardening. They have a community garden in Vulcan Park, Workington, and have an outreach gardening service.

Here they explain how they have implemented the '4 R's into their gardening activities.

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Get in touch via their Facebook page if you would like to get involved.



The concept of the Grow Well West Cumbria “Reuse garden” came from growing knowledge and experience of the ‘4 R’s’: REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE AND REFUSE. This is not a rocket science or even a new idea, just one that has gained in popularity over the last decade as awareness of human destruction of the planet and climate has become increasingly noticeable


In practice Grow Well has REDUCED its use of peat based compost, use of plastic, and as far as possible not buying new products.


We use peat free compost to protect the massively over exploited peatland areas which are vital for many species of wildlife. Peat free compost is usually made from forest waste and can be a bit coarse in texture. Grow Well sieves the peat free compost if fine compost for seed sowing is required. The coarser material is used as mulch on plants as weed suppressant and for moisture retention.


REUSE of plastics has a large presence at Grow Well’s Community Garden in Vulcan Park (Princess St side). Generous donations of plant pots, large & small, plus seed trays have meant Grow Well hasn’t had to buy any at all! So thank you to all the people who have donated. A word of encouragement to anyone needing plant pots: put ‘a shout out’ for them, they will come for sure.


It is good horticultural practice to wash plant pots before reuse to reduce risk of passing on plant diseases. Washing up liquid and water is fine for this.


We have also had two water butts donated via the ‘Freegle’ social media site (a great way to give away items you don’t want any more or ask for things you do: all freely given). The water butts will be properly connected to the building when the renovation work is undertaken. We are delighted to have onsite water this season, and it’s rainwater: the best for plants.


Large compost bags are great for growing things in: Grow Well is using them for potatoes and sunflowers this season. The same bags are great for lining containers prior to filling with growing compost, just remember to cut drainage holes in plastic compost bag liners. The compost bags can also be used for storing leaves to make leaf mould, which can later be used for seed planting material. Again just remember to make holes in the bags for drainage.


Flower planters have included a broken laundry basket, wicker chair, CD towers (laid on their backs), plastic crates, cracked teapots, or those with a broken lid and old hessian shopping bags. The list is endless, just a little imagination required!


Pallets are a major feature in Grow Well’s Community garden. All the growing beds are made from pallet wood. Pallets are used as planters: this year for strawberries and nasturtiums (the caterpillars are enjoying the latter).


The two compost containers are also reused wooden crates: ideal lined with cardboard.

So much about containers! Another way Grow Well applies the reuse principle is by seed collection: some flowers and vegetables produce lots of seed which can be kept in a dry place and planted to grow new plants the following spring. It saves money too.


RECYCLE. Where it is not possible to reuse gardening items, Grow Well tries to recycle these. Used compost is recycled into the compost crates to add to the mix of green and brown materials which together with moisture and nature makes great garden compost. Also all the green waste from growing vegetables and flowers is recycled via the compost crates.

Pieces of turf from grass edging is turned upside down and left to rot down; this is another good source of future compost.


REFUSE, as in rubbish, not declining to do something!

Grow Well produces very little waste for landfill, which we are very proud about.

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