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Gardens and Growing

Gardens and Growing

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The gardens at CAT aren’t just a pretty space. How we garden really matters. By working with nature we can create gorgeous and productive gardens that have a positive impact on our health and the environment.

Gardens in the UK collectively cover more land than nature reserves; this means that how we garden can have major impacts.

The gardens at CAT are all cared for using organic techniques and principles. They show how you can create beautiful space, help the environment and still produce a crop of tasty and delicious fruit and vegetables.

Our approach

Rather than approaching the garden as something to be tamed we try to work with natural process to create a healthy and productive ecosystem.

For example, we often choose to leave last year’s dead plant debris and weeds in the beds over winter instead of tidying everything away neatly. This protects the soil from the elements and reduces the leaching of nutrients. It also provides shelter for beneficial insects to over-winter and supports natural pest control. This can mean that our gardens sometimes look a little bit messy!

Annual and perennial flowers bring an abundance of colour and fragrance to the gardens, but they also attract pollinators, like bees, and aphid-chomping insects, like hoverflies.

Our journey

When CAT started, almost all of the land here was covered in slate waste. There was very little soil, so the original residents and volunteers brought in soil and compost to establish the first gardens on site.

CAT site in the 1970s

Now, after 50 years of careful management, and layers and layers of compost, CAT is home to some of the oldest established organic gardens in the country.

Taste the results

Much of the fruit and veg grown on the visitor circuit and in our two-acre field is turned into delicious dishes by the talented chefs in our vegetarian café.

Enjoy tasty salads, tender greens, protein-packed pulses, and even courgette cake, all made with fresh produce grown on the CAT site.

What is grown?

We produce a wide range of seasonal veg that is constantly changing and, thanks to our polytunnels, we can continue producing some crops all year round.

So, depending on when you come, you may get the chance to see (and taste if you head to the café) everything from apples, peaches, grapes and figs to kale, cabbage, pumpkins, peppers and tomatoes.

growing lettuce in the CAT organic gardens
growing lettuce in the CAT organic gardens

The Gardens

As you wander around you’ll see a number of different display gardens that each showcase a different aspect of sustainable living, with designs, techniques and approaches that are useful in a wide variety of situations.

The Whole Home Garden

This suburban garden is designed as a low maintenance ecological garden that helps the imaginary resident of the Whole Home to live a low carbon lifestyle.


display showcasing energy efficiency in the home
Whole home – display showcasing energy efficiency in the home

The Container Garden

If you’re short of space, lacking in soil, or if you are in temporary accommodation, come and see how a container garden could work for you.

The Big Polytunnel

The big tunnel is a great space to hang out in, and helps us grow a wide of array of crops that would be hard to grow outdoors, including grapes, figs, squashes and peppers.

The Soil Care Garden

More than just dirt, come and see some of the techniques we use to improve soil fertility and help build healthy gardens.

The Forest Garden

Mimicking the processes of a woodland, this garden has been designed so that the plants in the garden work together as an ecosystem, while still producing some food.

The Little Polytunnel

This is a very hard working tunnel that transforms with the seasons. In the spring you will find the hotbeds and plant nursery here, while in the summer it is the main onsite growing space for tender vegetables, like tomatoes, cucumbers and chillies.

The Allotments

Find out about crop rotation, beneficial insects and raised beds in this productive growing area.