Growing our own – sustainable plants project

We are now growing our own plants for landscaping upgrades at our housing schemes, thanks to a new polytunnel project.

Estate Services Team member John Breame, who has led the project at The Elms in Norwich, explains:

We had great success last year growing our own bedding plants, and the polytunnel was a key part of the plan. The hope is to be self-sufficient in all the plant material we use within two years.

John Breame, Estate Services

The tunnel, which arrived in February this year, measures 7 metres x 4 metres and has an automatic watering system. However, it hasn’t all been plain sailing, as John explains:

We put it up during a particularly stormy part of the year. I was quite concerned it might blow away! I was also concerned because of the outbreak of Covid-19 and the impact on our work. We could have lost everything we had already grown.

During lockdown the Estate Services team has been able to continue maintaining our communal gardens by keeping a safe distance to protect themselves and tenants.

Propagating all year round

However, the polytunnel is only part of the story. The Estate Services team has also repurposed the bowls hut at The Elms, which was unused, turning it into a propagation and potting shed. The hut has a heated propagator and grow lights, fitted by Broadland’s electrical engineers. The facilities means that the team can propagate plants all year round.

The potting shed will constantly replenish our stocks, with the polytunnel giving weather protection and excellent growing conditions.

Tenants at The Elms were kept informed throughout the project and the team has received some very positive comments:

We have spruced up the old bowls hut and we think people are pleased it is being used.