Grants invited for peat-free jobs

Peat-free Britain in Bloom project leaders invited to apply for Defra grant in partnership scheme.

Britain in Bloom: win for Lytham - image: HW
Britain in Bloom: win for Lytham - image: HW

Defra grant applications for RHS Britain in Bloom peat-free projects have reopened as part of the Sustainable Horticulture in Partnership Scheme.

The two-year scheme launched in 2013. Defra makes £50,000 available a year to local authorities and community groups to "set an example" to gardeners.

To apply, Britain in Bloom or It's Your Neighbourhood groups (in England only) must be led by or work in partnership with their local authority. Groups need to develop partnerships with their local supply chain of growers, landscapers or growing-media suppliers. There are no restrictions on size, English location or type of horticultural project.

Winners of grants in 2013 to grow peat-free plants include £2,000 for Friends of Evington in Bloom, Leicester City Council and Petersfield Growing Mediums.

Halstead in Bloom, Braintree District Council and Colne Valley Nurseries have £2,000. Caistor in Bloom, Caistor Town Council, Lincolnshire County Council, Lindsey District Council and Waltham Herbs have a £4,000 grant. Morpeth in Bloom, Morpeth Town Council, Heighley Gate Garden Centre and Northumberland County Council have a £6,515 grant. Maghull in Bloom, Sefton Borough Council, HMP Kennet and have £8,000.

An RHS representative said: "The RHS believes that gardeners should avoid using peat unless there is no alternative so we encourage sustainable practices, like peat-free and peat-reduced planting, wherever possible across all RHS activities including at our gardens, shows and in our Britain in Bloom communities.

"There is no compulsory requirement that Britain in Bloom groups use only peat-free planting. But 25 per cent of the Britain in Bloom judging criteria focus on environmental responsibility.

"The criteria are not prescriptive to that level of detail but the judges do ask questions about suppliers and growing to evaluate both environmental responsibility and horticultural practice."

Lytham won the 2013 RHS Britain in Bloom Champion of Champions at the annual awards ceremony held in Cleethorpes (12 October).

Open day Information for local authorities

Melcourt has held an open day for councils wanting to know more about the peat-free voluntary deadline of 2015.

Bournemouth Council nursery manager Chris Evans said he has used peat-free for the council's hanging baskets, while Defra soils policy specialist Judith Stuart gave a talk.

Marketing manager Andy Chalmers said: "Defra needs to publicise the targets far better." Defra is "just hoping people will work towards the target and will see the benefits".

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