Garden centres host ‘Tool Amnesty’ for charity

GARDENERS are being asked by the Wyevale family of garden centres to trade in their old and broken gardening tools for new ones this month (April 2009) to help two charities.

One-hundred-and-twenty-two garden centres all over the country are asking green-fingered folk to assist with their ‘Garden Tool Amnesty’ running from Monday, April 20 until Sunday, May 3, 2009, which is in aid of The Conservation Foundation’s ‘Tools for Schools’ programme known as ‘Tools Shed’ and Tools For Self Reliance (TFSR) Cymru.

Natalie Moulden, Events Manager for the Wyevale family of garden centres, said: “It’s the second year we have run an appeal like this and last year we supported the international charity, Feed the Children. We will give anyone who brings in their old gardening tools during the two weeks a 20% off voucher to redeem against any new gardening tools from our Wilkinson Sword, Yeoman or Joseph Bentley ranges.

“The initiative applies to tools such as trowels, spades, hand and garden forks, hoes, good old-fashioned garden rakes and lawn rakes, but not power tools, which are those powered by electricity or are petrol-driven. The event will run between April 20 and May 3 and the 20% off vouchers must be redeemed between these dates. The old tools from our garden centres in England will be donated to The Conservation Foundation’s ‘Tools Shed’ initiative and those from our five Welsh garden centres will be given to Tools For Self Reliance (TFSR) Cymru.”

The Foundation has been piloting a garden tool recycling project with Her Majesty’s Prison (HMP) Wandsworth also in London during the past year. The tools repaired so far were given to children from more than 30 London schools at the first Tools Shed distribution day last autumn (2008).

Any donated tools will be delivered to the prison and refurbished by prisoners nearing the end of their sentences, contributing to their re-training and rehabilitation. The revamped tools are then offered to primary schools and community groups for use in their gardens.

The Conservation Foundation’s Director, David Shreeve explained: “We’re delighted that we’ve been able to link up with Wyevale for our 2009 Tools Shed initiative. Schools tell us how difficult it is to get the equipment they need for their gardens and a recycling project that helps equip the next generation of gardeners, reduces waste and provides practical skills for prisoners, seems the ideal solution.

“With more and more schools ‘growing their own’ there is great demand for garden tools and rarely any budget. With Tools Shed successfully launched at HMP Wandsworth, there is interest in the next stage from potential partners including other prisons, local authorities and schools organisations and we are planning to start working in other parts of the country later this year.”

In 2009 the Foundation hopes to work with HMP Moorland near Doncaster and interest has been expressed by HMP Edinburgh and HMP Glen Parva near Leicester too.

David added: “The main barrier to expanding the project has been getting a steady supply of tools and this Tool Amnesty with Wyevale presents us with a great opportunity to take Tools Shed to other parts of the country.”

TFSR Cymru collects old and unwanted tools and refurbishes them so they can be sent to Africa or sold in the UK with proceeds going to the charity and its work. It works closely with partner organisations in Africa, particularly with the Small Industries Development Organisation (SIDO) in Tanzania.

A spokesman for TFSR Cymru, Tony Care explained: “We’re delighted to be working with the five Wyevale garden centres in Wales. There has been a TFSR group in Crickhowell since 1983. Today we support TFSR groups across Wales. Volunteers meet in our fully equipped workshop to clean and repair donated tools, and so far we have sent more than 480 tool kits, each containing up to 100 tools, to artisans working in rural communities throughout Africa.

“TFSR Cymru sells an ever-increasing number of tools that are not requested by our overseas partners. These are fully refurbished, sharpened and fitted with new handles where necessary.

“This is one of our main sources of income, and we sell them direct from the workshop, or at events such as the Smallholders Show in Builth Wells, or the Big Green Gathering near Cheddar in Somerset.”

For further details, please drop in at your nearest participating Wyevale family garden centre, call 0800 413213 or visit