Reducing plastic pollution in Cornwall: Action Nan visits Trevisker Garden Centre

Trevisker Garden Centre and Cafe sign surrounded by flowers

Trevisker is set to be Cornwall’s first plastic-free garden centre.

I recently visited Trevisker Garden Centre when I attended one of Beach Guardian evening events there. I often attend beach cleans and meetings with Rob and Emily (who set up Beach Guardian) and I was interested to see their new HQ in a disused polytunnel on site. As I don’t head Padstow way very often I had never visited this lovely garden centre and certainly had not realised that they are achieving great things in our plastic-free community here in Cornwall.

Mark and Siân Sandry own and run the garden centre on Mark’s family farm. Mark is a real character and took pains to tell me in his own self-effacing way that he didn’t grow up with a love of plants and a burning desire to create a garden business. It just happened by chance after making a promise to his local pub landlord that he would provide all his hanging baskets after having one too many in the bar! He had no plants and no money but luckily his gran came up trumps and loaned him £600 to get started and as they say, the rest is history…

Mark attended a garden course at Pershore College of Agriculture and was still not sure about being able to make a living from plants, so he and Siân put up two polytunnels on the field near the road and started selling plants as well as having other jobs. The business grew and they were granted planning on an agricultural barn, which was the turning point on the journey to what you see today. There are many plants outside to choose from and they specialise in ones which tolerate salt and wind – essential for any garden here in Cornwall.

On site you will now find Mark in charge of plants and Siân managing the shops, a furniture and home area, a dog boutique, a hot tub specialist and clothes boutique. There’s also a cafe run by a talented South African chef called Henk – his food is exceptional!

Their journey to to reduce their plastic usage started from following Beach Guardian on social media. In Siân’s words:

They keep our beaches clean and do an amazing job of educating everyone on plastic pollution in our oceans. The next time I was at the beach (which is a lot with the dog!) I started noticing the plastic on the beach. Once you start to see it, you can’t un-see it and that’s when I realised that we had to make some changes at home and at the garden centre.
At home was easy – we’ve swapped our milk for glass milk bottles, margarine for butter and now shop at a refill store.

The garden centre was a bit more challenging, but we do love a challenge! We firstly looked into plastic plant pots. There’s a few alternatives out there but they are either not suitable for long term use or were being shipped in from China so no good either! We decided to carry on growing in plastic pots but at the till take the plants out of the pot and keep it ourselves to reuse. We put the plants in bags made out of plant starch and are completely compostable – our carrier bags are made from the same amazing stuff too. We’ve teamed up with Exeter City Council after a really successful plant pot amnesty and we can now take anyone’s old plastic pots for recycling as they aren’t curbside recyclable. We talk to all our suppliers about their plastic usage and spread the word to all our customers.

We also grow plants in a really sustainable way – no heat, minimal chemicals (like hardly anything!) and we grow plants for our environment – right plant, right place! Any of our gorgeous stock that we don’t grow, we source from Cornwall and south Devon growers who are all like minded people.

Our water is pumped from our own water source and we drive an electric car!

We’re only selling eco Xmas crackers and recyclable wrapping paper paper this year too! And we don’t sell any plastic rubbish gifts.

We regularly join Rob and Emily (Beach Guardian) on their beach cleans and are so proud to be working alongside such dedicated people. Together we can make a difference!

As you can read I was mightily impressed with this small family business shining a light on plastic pollution and doing something about it. As more of us take action we will hopefully raise awareness of plastic pollution and convince others to do the same. Well done, Trevisker! Hopefully you will pay them a visit during your stay – their plants are fantastic!

Visiting Trevisker Garden Centre

Trevisker is open 9am – 5pm Monday-Saturday, and 10am – 4pm on Sundays. They’re located just off the A389 on the way to Padstowat Trevisker Farm PL28 8LD (approximately 40 minutes’ drive from Bosinver).

Find out what we’re doing at Bosinver to reduce waste and support the environment >

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