Up the Garden Bath, Cambridgeshire

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A DIY project that has grown into a thriving social enterprise bringing gardening to local people, young and old

Up the Garden Bath is a new and exciting non-profit making social enterprise in Cambridgeshire. The group take old unwanted bathtubs and upcycle them into ready made garden planters. Old bathtubs have been reused on allotments for years but this project entails building a raised wooden surround for the bathtub - transforming it into a contained growing space at a height that is easily accessible for children, the elderly or disabled.  

Dave Paulton, founder, came up with the idea to turn old bathtubs into mini-gardens when he was recovering from a stroke last year. It started out as little DIY project in his own back garden and is now a thriving business bringing gardening to local people, young and old.

“Our planters offer an instant, ready made and contained solution to growing your own flowers, fruit, vegetables and herbs. We use 100% recycled, unwanted wood and paint to ensure a quality finish in a range of wood styles and colours. The soil we use to fill the planters also comes from a sustainable source – it is bi-product of the generation of electricity from food waste.

“We have designed fun, interactive and educational workshops to teach children all about recycling, sustainability, growing and eating healthily. We feel it is imperative to teach future generations the importance of sustainability and recycling. Our planters provide a practical and cost effective solution to growing programmes at a time when school budgets are being reduced. Our products are also very popular with SEN schools as they make gardening more accessible to those with disabilities.

“We have devised themed planters including ‘Mini Allotments’ and ‘Pollen Paradises’. These are extremely popular with nurseries and primary schools. In fact, we’ve just secured a partnership with the national charity ‘Buglife’ to promote our Pollen Paradise planters further afield. We’re also working with the Co-operative and Network Rail, so watch this space!  

“We give opportunities to people who need a chance. Our products are manufactured by individuals who have found themselves unable to access mainstream employment for a variety of reasons. We are currently researching new premises to expand our operation and plan to start a "mentoring" scheme that will pair skilled semi-retired people with teenagers who aren’t in education or employment. Our aim is to give the young people we work with an opportunity to learn new skills, including woodwork, to improve their self esteem and enhance their career options.

“Our project is community driven with any profits, after the deduction of operating costs, donated to local gardening projects. We hope our project makes a difference by reducing landfill, educating and giving opportunities.

“It sounds like a cliché but we have encountered children that didn’t know that apples grow on trees! Reconnecting children with nature is so important. Our motto is ‘Together we can grow and learn’. I really believe that passing on this knowledge is one of the most important jobs anyone can do.”

Finally, what do you value about being a member of SF&G?

“Connecting with like-minded people in a common cause – I only wish the rest of the world would come on board.”

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