A GREEN-FINGERED business is helping to spread the word on the environment.
Colne Valley Garden Centre is making a practical contribution to “green” issues though its commercial, charitable and community activities.
The business was acquired by the Walker family in February, 2000, at a time when the Scar Lane site was in poor condition and staff morale was low.
Over the next few years, investment in the buildings, stock, advertising and staff recruitment and training resulted in a doubling of turnover.
Director Jon Walker said: “We consider that the core of gardening is to improve a small corner of the world and we aim to help all our customers do this while also trying to improve this part of England.
“It has also been a personal journey for myself from a background in engineering with no experience in management, retail or gardening – a gradual realisation that gardening is the Englishman’s meditation that cultivates the soul as well as the ground, exercising the mind and eye as well as the limbs.”
The centre’s 15-strong staff is supplemented by trainees and volunteers who assist with housekeeping and manual handling while they also learn work skills and basic horticulture.
The trainees come from a wide range of backgrounds, including work experience students from local schools and adults with learning difficulties from assisted living homes in the area.
The company also offers apprenticeships while other members of staff have been on short courses in areas from floristry to forklifts, face-painting to first aid.
Colne Valley Garden Centre gets the green message across through its close links with local schools, hosting visits and donating seeds. Proceeds from the annual Santa’s Grotto go to a gardening club at Cowlersley School. A toddlers’ group is also being trialled in the cafe on weekday mornings.
Said Mr Walker: “We take our environmental lead from its shared root with economy and have gradually developed an environmental policy that gives great savings as well as helping the planet.
“In the past four years, we have reduced our water and drainage by 20%, gas and electricity consumption by 30% and landfill by a massive 80%, but hope to improve still further.
“This has been achieved by essentially conservative, low-tech systems, improving insulation and burning waste wood for heat, collecting rainwater for irrigation, baling card and plastics for recycling and composting animal bedding rather than the more obvious routes of solar cells or wind turbines.”
He added: “Green thinking, education and community awareness are not exceptional individually, but their combination is what makes Colne Valley Garden Centre special.”