A FARM and garden centre in Norton, which boasts a wildlife area and a cafe and is free to visit, opens its gates today (Saturday).
St Peters Garden Centre creates ‘an adventure into nature and wildlife’ for families and has had resident pygmy goats, Eric and Ernie, on-site for a couple of years and they have always provided a welcome attraction for visitors.
In the next few weeks, they will be joined by rare-breed hens and miniature pigs.
The attraction is the brainchild of Tony Blake who first dreamt about creating a wildlife area on the site back in 2012 when housing developments were quickly spreading in the local area.
Last year, his son Will, now the Managing Director, began to make this a reality, and now Poppy’s Farm will open for visitors.
The pair were helped by Geoff Smith, who worked with Tony at St Peters back in the early 1990s. He has a wealth of knowledge and is passionate about planting species native to Britain. He has worked hard to create a diverse habitat hoping to attract a wide range of wildlife to the site.
Alongside the nature trail and animals, Tony and Geoff have planned and planted Oliver’s allotment where they are growing crops that will thrive throughout the year.
They are also carrying out experiments to test the effectiveness of peat-free growing.
Tony said: “It’s fantastic to see my dreams come to life and I have loved getting involved with the allotment, there is nothing quite as satisfying as growing your own.”
Poppy’s Cafe serves a range of homemade cakes and barista coffee along with with picnic lunches which can be enjoyed in the new Lakeside Hide, or around the lake.
Keeping it in the family, St Peters use Yallah Coffee – a roastery owned by Will’s brother whose ethical coffee is already popular with customers in St Peters main restaurant, The Potting Shed.
And there is a beautiful hand-crafted yurt that will provide a fantastic event space for classes and clubs, as well providing a wonderful setting in which to enjoy a vintage afternoon tea.
Will’s two passions are the environment and his family – hence the names Poppy’s Farm, named after his daughter, and Oliver’s allotment, named after his son.
Will said: “It’s frightening how our native species are finding it harder and harder to find natural habitats so anything we can do to help them is worth it.
“I have loved working with Geoff and learning about the small steps we can all take to do our bit for our precious environment.
“We’ve got a long way to go in undoing the damage we have done to the planet and we can’t all be perfect but there are little things we can all do to help make a positive difference.”
Visit www.stpetersgardencentre.co.uk/poppysfarm for more.
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