Customers at 118 garden centres nationwide were asked to assist with the ‘Garden Tool Amnesty’ in aid of the Conservation Foundation’s ‘Tools Shed’ programme and Tools For Self Reliance (TFSR) Cymru.
Julie Sheldon, marketing events manager for the Garden Centre Group, said:
"Earlier this year all 118 garden centres in the group asked their greenfingered visitors to trade in their old and broken gardening tools for new ones to assist with our Garden Tool Amnesty, which ran for two weeks in February in aid of Tools Shed and TFSR Cymru.
"It’s the fourth year we have run an appeal like this and we have been thrilled by the response from our customers.
"As part of the amnesty we gave anyone who brought in their old gardening tools during the two weeks a 20% off voucher to redeem against any new gardening tools from our Fiskars, Yeoman, Joseph Bentley, Wolf, Burgeon and Ball and Felco ranges."
The old tools, 2,523 in total, collected at the garden centres in England have been donated to the Conservation Foundation’s Tools Shed initiative.
They will be repaired at Her Majesty’s Prison (HMP) Wandsworth in London, Thorn Cross Young Offenders’ Institution near Warrington, HMP High Down in Surrey and HMP Dartmoor in Devon.
The revamped tools will be offered to primary schools and community groups for use in their gardens.
The Conservation Foundation’s Director, David Shreeve explained: "We’re delighted that we were able to link up with The Garden Centre Group for their 2011 Garden Tool Amnesty. The response was even better than we hoped.
"With more and more schools and community groups ‘growing their own’ there is a great demand for garden tools and rarely any budget. Tools Shed is a popular initiative that provides practical skills to prisoners, reduces waste and helps equip the next generation of gardeners.
"Thanks to the help of The Garden Centre Group, our prison partners have received plenty of tools to repair and these in turn will find good homes in school and community gardens. With such a great supply of tools, The Foundation is now busy fundraising to enable us to work with more prisons around the country."
The old tools from the garden centres in Wales, 510 in total, have been donated to TFSR Cymru. The organisation works closely with partner organisations in Africa, particularly with the Small Industries Development Organisation (SIDO) in Tanzania.
Peter Davies, Workshop Co-ordinator for TFSR Cymru, explained: "We’re delighted we’ve been able to link up with the four the Garden Centre Group garden centres in Wales for the fourth year running.
"There has been a TFSR group in Crickhowell since 1983. Today we support TFSR groups across Wales. Volunteers meet in our fully equipped workshop to clean and repair donated tools, and so far we have sent more than 550 tool kits, each containing up to 100 tools, mainly to artisans working in rural communities in Tanzania.
"TFSR Cymru sells a lot of garden tools that are not requested by our overseas partners. These are fully refurbished, sharpened and fitted with new handles where necessary. This is one of our main sources of income, and we sell them direct from the workshop, or at events such as the Smallholders Show in Builth Wells and Glastonbury Festival in Somerset."
Solus Garden & Leisure supported the Garden Centre Group’s campaign by delivering sacks for the storage of the tools collected. It also provided a tool collection service for all the garden centres in England and Wales and delivered the old tools to TFSR Cymru, and the participating prisons.