Poppy’s Farm Blog #1 From small acorns…
Before I hand the blog over to Geoff and Tony, I wanted to give you a bit more background to the project. I first came up with the idea in 2018 when I was thinking what we could do with this untapped part of the site; I have always felt it has massive potential and with more and more houses being built in the area, the need to protect this precious piece of open space and the wildlife it houses, was more real than ever.
At the end of the day, St Peters Garden Centre is a business, but my ethos is Planet and People before Profit (as highlighted by David Attenborough in his recent tv programme); so Poppy’s Farm seemed to be the perfect fit.
I am passionate about this project so could ramble on all day about how we got to where we are but, in the interest of keeping you engaged, here is what you can expect when you visit…
The lake was created in 1982 to enable the garden centre to harvest rainwater but it had never been used for anything else. I love being by water and find the sound of running water really relaxing so I thought it would be great to encourage people to use this area. We started by building the board walk and then created the nature trail. Although it has only been planted up this year, I am already amazed by the amount of wildlife that has made it home.
We have been incredibly fortunate to welcome some otters to the site, being nocturnal, we don’t see much of them but they have been caught on our wildlife cameras and we have seen evidence of them on the banks, so we know they’re there – you might just have to take my word for it though!
We’re also attracting lots of other animals such as bees, butterflies and birds, with Geoff’s clever planting, hopefully this will continue t grow.
In 2012 we opened the Vegetable Garden which was used for showcasing how to ‘grow your own’. With the huge number of people turning to gardening in 2020 (over 3 million according to the Horticultural Trade Association), we have been inundated with questions about growing your own so as part of the opening of Poppy’s Farm we are giving the area a re-vamp and renaming it ‘Oliver’s allotment’ (after my son). We are adding more information and hints and tips to show customers how they can get into gardening and enjoy growing their own at home.
We’ll rotate our crops seasonally and show you everything from sowing to growing, to harvesting and Geoff and Tony will be on-hand to talk you through what they’re doing.
Aside from the wild animals taking up residency on the nature trail, we also have our goats - Eric and Ernie. They have been with us for a couple of years and everyone seems to enjoy going to say hello to them so we thought we’d add a few more animals. The site was originally a pig farm so I was keen to bring the pigs back to the farm, but I’m undecided at the moment as I am aware of how much mess pigs can create, other ideas going through my mind include meerkats, sheep and possibly miniature pigs, but watch this space as this might change!
With the lake being such a relaxing place to stop and while away some time, I felt that it would be lovely to have some food available. Poppy’s Café will offer a range of light refreshments all of the same high standard that we offer in our restaurant. In addition to the ‘grab and go’ food perfect for picnics, we’ll also be offering pre-ordered luxury picnic baskets and vintage afternoon teas which can be enjoyed in our yurt – see below for more details…
I have to confess that I am pretty excited about the yurt, it opens up so many opportunities for us to bring people together, and it is being installed on a piece of land which was previously used to house a run down UPV summer house.
We are working with a local yurt maker to create the building and we’re going to heat it (sustainably of course!) so that we can use it all year-round. As well as providing a beautiful setting for enjoying one of our vintage afternoon teas, we’ll also use the space for talks, events and classes such as yoga and crafting.
So that’s Poppy’s Farm in a nutshell, it’s been a long time in the making and I am really excited to open the space up and start welcoming visitors. If ever there has been a time that we needed some more outside space to enjoy, it is now. I really hope you enjoy what we have created.