Ryton Gardens sold to Coventry University in a move which charity says protects future of the site

Emma O'Neil, head gardener at Garden Organic, on site where the new demonstration and training garden will be built
Emma O'Neil, head gardener at Garden Organic, on site where the new demonstration and training garden will be built

Ryton Gardens has been sold to Coventry University after the charity Garden Organic listed the site for sale in February last year due to high running costs.

Coventry University took ownership of the 22-acre site, located between Wolston and Ryton-on-Dunsmore, immediately and the current gardens will remain open to visitors on weekdays until Monday September 30.

Garden Organic, which has a 40-year history with the university, will remain on site as a tenant and its well-established Heritage Seed Library will continue to be run from there.

The charity will also lease an additional area of land from Coventry University to develop into an organic demonstration and training garden.

This demonstration and training garden will be open to members and the public on open days throughout the year, where hands on activities, tours and advice will be on offer.

Those wishing to visit memorials on the site can still do so by making a prior appointment with Coventry University.

Chief executive of Garden Organic, James Campbell, said: "We are delighted that Coventry University is going to acquire Ryton Gardens.

“Our mission as a charity is to encourage people up and down the country to grow organically now and long into the future and we have carefully explored a number of options to ensure we are able to do this for decades to come.

“In recent years it has become clear that running costs of Ryton were limiting our abilities to operate to our full potential.

"We have carried out a thorough decision process and are confident that this is the most positive way to release the financial pressure that comes with owning and managing the extensive land and buildings.

Chris Pampling, chair of Friends of Ryton Organic Gardens, said: "We welcome the fact that Coventry University say they will respect the area and terms of the Asset of Community Value designation from Rugby Council.

"We have a meeting to discuss this next Monday [today, September 16], and will speak to Garden Organic in the near future to discuss what the announcement means.

"We look forwards to working with both Coventry University and Garden Organic in whatever way we can in the future."

A spokesperson for Friends of Ryton Organic Gardens added: "A garden open to the public offers a respite from the busy world outside the gardens - a place where people can relax and reflect in peaceful surroundings.

"At Ryton people can also learn about the value of Organic Gardening in this time of climate change and uncertainty. Gardens are vital in protecting the diversity of our wildlife as well as providing food for human beings.

"We are planning to meet with Garden Organic, and hopefully with a university representative, to work out what the sale means in practice and to find out how Friends of Ryton Organic Gardens can continue to support a garden which, as well as having great educational value, also houses the ashes of peoples’ loved ones."

The University’s Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience isbased at the Ryton Gardens site and plans to expand the research and field trials undertaken there.

Professor Richard Dashwood, Coventry University’s deputy vice-chancellor for research, said: “After detailed discussions with Garden Organic, we’re delighted to have reached agreement to purchase the Ryton Gardens site and secured a positive future for it.

"We have worked closely with Garden Organic for 40 years and I’m pleased that they will continue to operate from the site, including running their Heritage Seed Library and organic demonstration and training garden.

"Our focus is to sustain and strengthen research at Ryton through our Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience, whose work helps to promote food and water security internationally.”

Answers to frequently asked questions about the sale can be found on Garden Organic’s website by clicking here.