About The Community Plant Nursery
What it’s about
The Community Plant Nursery is a permaculture project being set up as a social business to provide locally grown plants, educational, social and employment opportunities for the people of Norwich. We will be growing edibles, pollinator plants and native trees and working with local community groups and voluntary organisations to make Norwich green again!
How it began – the story so far
Back in 2006 I moved from Norwich to rural Norfolk and, working as a gardener and living in a house with a large garden, I had the opportunity to propagate plants of various kinds on a very modest scale. Over the following years I occasionally sold home-raised plants at sales and fairs, but never built up the large stock of plants needed to expand this into a business. I recognised that, like most businesses, any such enterprise would require substantial capital input to buy in stock (as well as other resources such as extra land) to trade on a scale sufficient to provide an income. However, I also realised that, unlike other businesses, a plant nursery has assets which increase, rather than depreciate over time – plants have a tendency to grow and multiply.
At the same time I became interested in permaculture and was involved, as a volunteer, at a site close to my home where trees and other plants were being propagated with the idea of starting a plant nursery. While the idea never got off the ground, in addition to gaining practical knowledge and experience, I began to research the possibilities of such an enterprise as a permaculture project.
When I moved back to Norwich in 2018 I brought with me my ‘micro- nursery’ stock of plants in pots. I soon realised I had too many to fit in my tiny garden and many were temporarily housed in the garden of a friend. At the same time, I became aware of the number of land-based community groups and projects locally and that land to grow plants and food is, in fact, often more accessible in the city than in the countryside. I began to think about how a plant nursery could be set up as a permaculture project in an urban setting.
In the summer of 2019, I had the opportunity to work with the Sussex Street Co-housing Community on a Norwich City Council allotment site at Valpy Avenue. Part of the site was already planted with mature fruit trees and bushes and was planned to be set up as a forest garden. This would enable the potted plants to grow in open ground where they could be used as the basis for propagation stock for the nursery, with new plants being produced from cuttings, division, layering and so on.
In December of that year, we had a successful work day, clearing ground and planting out on the site and in the following February, I gave a talk to the Norwich Plant and Seed Swap, generating more interest in the project. Further work days were planned but unfortunately, due to the coronavirus lockdown, things had to be put on hold and little progress could be made. However, with the lifting of restrictions we aim to increase community involvement.
– Steve Land