How Garden Centres Are Engaging with Local Communities

Gardening is a hobby that has been longstanding in the UK, with 2,300 garden centres throughout the country, according to Savill’s research. They’ve been known as the place for enthusiasts and aspiring, green-fingered gardeners for years but have recently seen a shift in how they engage with local communities.

But how have these centres become a beating heart for these communities? Here, we explore how they’ve adjusted their approaches to become more centred around the visitor and community experience.

Event hosting and organisation

Garden Centres engaging with local communitiesThe fastest way to build a sense of community is to organise events for residents of the local area to come and enjoy. These can range from anything from a more traditional event that you’d expect from a garden centre, like sales on plants and workshops on gardening, to using the space to bring a family vibe to the centre.

Afternoon tea can help bring together community members of all ages to get them to learn more about each other, while clubs and how-to sessions for younger generations can not only get them interested in gardening but also give parents a bit of a respite.

Hosting events can offer exciting occasions for the community to look forward to and outline how important that space is as a location for people to learn and share knowledge and experiences. It can even encourage engagement for community members to get involved and run their events, which can further help to foster a good atmosphere throughout the area.

Providing a hub for socialising and meeting your needs

Diversifying what garden centres provide is hugely important, especially where their incomes come from, to help increase footfall, revenue, and dwell. This is where cafes can help, as many garden centres have them, and Savill’s research has found that it can account for as much as 20% of turnover. On top of this, this also helps build a more communal sense by offering a casual meeting place.

Whether you’re going with a friend, meeting new people with similar interests, or simply unwinding by yourself, these areas for sitting and enjoying a cup of coffee or tea are fantastic for building a community. 

Another way that garden centres can provide themselves as a hub is by offering immediate help and convenience through last-minute supplies for the local community. This can be anything from meeting sudden bursts of green inspiration for a gardening project or an emergency plant care to even acting as a card supplier to go with a last-minute gift. 

Further fostering a community – partnerships, marketing, and more…

There are many additional ways that garden centres are building more of a community element into their practices. One of them is that building partnerships with local businesses within reach of the garden centres helps to integrate more into their community. Artisans, farmers, and small businesses alike help to offer synergy with centres by providing their products for sale both at weekend markets or within shops in the venue to showcase what they offer.

Similarly, getting the most out of digital platforms to engage with the community can keep them up to date on what’s going on and even act as an extension of the physical location. This can be anything from producing video content of how the decorations are changing seasonally or for holidays, any changes to opening or closing times, or blog posts about all things gardening and community.

Another area that makes garden centres an important community hub is their positive effect on mental health. A survey by Censuswide found that 63% of the responding adults stated that gardening or being in nature helps their mental health. This shows the importance of offering a space where people can engage with nature and others with similar interests.