See below our correspondence with the manager of the Birchen Grove Garden Centre regarding their sale of peat-based products. The short version is that they have agreed to place peat-free products in a more prominent area, will put up signs proclaiming that they recommend peat-free gardening, and will phase out peat products in advance of the general ban in 2024.
Here are the emails:
8th Feb 2022
Dear Birchen Grove manager,
We hope that all is well with you.
We notice that many of the compost and soil improver products on display at Birchen Grove, our local Garden Centre, still contain peat. You are to be commended for the fact that you do also have some peat-free products, but these are not prominently displayed, and are far outnumbered by the equivalent peat-based products.
We are sure that you are aware that current legislation means that the sale of peat or peat-based products to the public will be banned from 2024, and that the Government had hoped that voluntary compliance would encourage the industry to withdraw such products from sale by 2020, but this hope was in vain.
As you probably know, peatland bogs play an important role in the ecosystem, sequestrating carbon from the atmosphere so that they are crucial in mitigating climate change; furthermore, the wholesale destruction of such bogs around the world is a major contributor to climate change. Given that there is no need to use peat in horticulture, certainly for amateur gardening purposes, it is necessary to persuade or educate the public not to use peat, and to phase out peat products as soon as possible.
We would very much like to know what you plan to do to transition to a peat-free garden centre, and the sort of time-scale that you envisage for this.
We would be happy to come in to your office to discuss these issues further. Please contact us either by replying to this email, or on one of the phone numbers below.
Joint coordinators, Brent Friends of the Earth
10th February 2022
Dear Ian & Pam,
Thank you for getting in touch with us regarding peat free compost here at Birchen Grove.
This topic is something we have maintained great focus on over the last decade as peat is being phased out as a product for growing media. We, as a business, have reduced our peat based growing media options by over half in recent times in order to give the consumer a variety of peat free options for their growing. Together with our suppliers and the HTA (Horticulture Trade Association) we are developing a 100% peat free offering that will be in place by (if not before) 2024.
Your input, is greatly appreciated and from this we have initiated a process where all peat free composts will be at the front of our displays with the clear message that Birchen Grove ‘Recommends Peat Free’.
Once again thank you for getting in touch. It is our guarantee that we are focussing on this topic intently and will continue to do so.
10th February 2022
Dear Matt Bament,
Thanks very much for your reply. We are pleased that you are taking this matter very seriously, and that you will now ensure that your peat-free products are more prominently displayed. I'm sure your "BG Recommends Peat-free" message will have a positive effect.
It would be good also to have some notices explaining why you make this recommendation, and informing customers that peat-free products can still give just as good results in their gardens, allotments or for potting house-plants. I think there is still some residual feeling among gardeners that "traditional" products containing peat are superior and will result in healthier plants, but we know from research that this is not the case. People should also be warned that the time will soon come when they will not be able to buy such products (though hopefully this will not result in them hoarding in advance of new regulations).
Do you have any objection to us publicising this correspondence among our members and on our website?
With best wishes,
Matt said he was quite happy for us to share this correspondence.