Philosophy and Ethos
Petersham Nurseries is fundamentally connected to nature. It is at the essence of the business, from our horticultural roots, to the seasonality of our food. We encourage positive living through consideration of the environment and draw inspiration from its beauty.
- We source responsibly across all departments, from the shop to the delicatessen, florist and restaurants, upholding consideration for provenance of the goods we sell and produce we use.
- We garden organically offering sustainable alternatives to pest and disease control as well as peat free composts.
- We grow our own organic cut flowers in our onsite cutting garden to use within our restaurants and teahouse, encouraging others to grow and enjoy British homegrown flowers.
- At our flagship site in Richmond we benefit from having our own onsite ground water source which feeds the irrigation and hoses at the nursery and keep the plants happily watered in the warmer months.
- We recycle the yew trees that border our Richmond site with The Friendship Estate, which in turn supports cancer research.
- Natural light to us is key. At Richmond we predominately open during the day, flooded by natural light across the site and in our glasshouses, whilst in Covent Garden we are privileged to have a beautiful central Court Yard, bringing natural light into an inner-city location.
Petersham Nurseries is proudly local, homegrown and part of the surrounding community. We care about our staff, who have become an extended family, whilst maintaining strong relationships with neighbours and treating customers the way we would treat guests in our own home. We support various charities and initiatives, both locally and abroad.
Since opening in 2004 Petersham Nurseries has been supporting an extensive variety of charities and initiatives, both locally and abroad. In 2013 Managing Directory Lara Boglione launched the Petersham Platform* with a talk by Patrick Holden of the Sustainable Food Trust and formerly Director of the Soil Association. Other big names followed: environmentalist capitalist organic farmer Joel Salatin, founder and director of the International Society for Ecology and Culture Helena Norberg-Hodge, environmental activist and editor of Resurgence magazine Satish Kumar, Carlo Petrini from Slow Food.
*Petersham Platform is a space for discussion, education and expression. Engaging with the community of fellow thinkers on issues of sustainability, gastronomy and agriculture, this ethos is spread across all business functions.
This is demonstrated in many aspects of our daily routine from the family owned and run organic farm, the Slow Food and Flower ethos upon which our menus are based and plants are grown, to reducing waste and encouraging recycling within the business. We aim to have a minimal impact on the environment. Supporting organisations such as the Marine Conservation Society and Farms Not Factories, our sourcing ethos inspires the buyers and chefs who are respectful of the produce they work with and appreciate its exceptional quality.
We are a member of the Sustainable Restaurant Association (@the_SRA) and has been awarded the highest accreditation as a leader in sustainability four years in a row. In 2017 we were received the ‘Food Made Good’ prize for Serving More Veg and Better Meat. In 2018 we were shortlisted for ‘Business of the Year’, ranking in the SRA’s top 20 most sustainable restaurants.
The Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) is a not for profit membership organisation helping restaurants become more sustainable and diners make more sustainable choices when dining out. Their Food Made Good programme focuses on a single issue each month making it easier for businesses to come together and work towards a shared goal to help the whole foodservice sector serve meals that don’t just taste good, but do good too.
The Petersham Nurseries team enjoy sharing our knowledge and wisdom. Nurturing our staff and inviting them into the Petersham family. Nourishing relationships with customers and suppliers alike. We endeavour to keep learning, regularly sharing our wealth of experience through the School of Garden Inspiration and culinary workshops.
Employing locally where we can (in Richmond 70% of our 100 plus staff live locally). We are strong advocates of encouraging career progression by promoting from within, providing adequate training and by encouraging staff to try a new department or area of interest. We subsidise management courses, wine qualifications, horticultural learning and ensure regular appraisals take place to discuss career progression and opportunities.
Where possible, we also welcome work experience students from local schools, as well as annually inviting students from Capel Manor and Leith’s to visit with a view to offer first time employment. In the near future, we would like to pursue introducing Apprenticeships.
Stepping into the world of Petersham Nurseries is to experience something unique. A destination like no other which stretches boundaries in what is created, sourced and served. Exciting senses and provoking thought; a place of aspiration and inspiration.
We recycle nearly all our waste at Petersham Nurseries. Categorised by: food waste, coffee waste, organic waste, glass, paper, industrial cardboard and mixed recycling (card, metal, tins, plastic). At Richmond we have been separating waste for over 10 years, working alongside SRA approved Quantum Waste – a socially conscientious company that use lighter vehicles and collect in a local radius to use less fuel and lower carbon emissions. Quantum also create local jobs for local people, offering an overall a one stop solution to sort and recycle most materials. Through regular briefings with our staff and by removing the bins from the kitchens, we are always looking at ways to encourage our team to think more carefully about what they are wasting. We extend this approach into our new Covent Garden site and with the media attention most recently on the harmful impacts of plastic, we hope to set a recycling precedence for other businesses.
We consider food waste to be of the upmost importance at Petersham Nurseries. We are completely committed to reducing food waste from our kitchens who prep utilising entire meat carcasses and every ounce of produce in their cooking – to our approach to composting. This year we trial an aerobic food digester (AFD) in Covent Garden and intend to introduce another at Richmond. The AFD odourlessly turns food waste into water, removing the need for waste bins and achieving a substantial reduction in our carbon footprint. Whilst we wait for our AFD at Richmond, we continue to divide our food waste amongst onsite compost heaps – to use in the gardens – with surplus collected by Quantum – who turn commercial food waste into organic fertilizer using only aerobic bacteria without any chemicals involved. In early 2017 we took to separating our coffee waste and sending it to Bio-Bean, who turn it into biofuels. We then buy the biofuels back in the form of ‘coffee logs’ which we sell at Petersham.
At the start of the year we enrolled Petersham Nurseries to Recorked, the UK’s leading natural wine cork recycling program. We donate our corks from all restaurants to Recorked who then resell or supply free corks to various charities and schools for use in craft projects. For every cork collected, they donate a % of their profit to nominated charities
Our takeaway and Delicatessen packaging is 100% biodegradable. From compostable takeaway boxes made from recycled material with a compostable plant-based PLA window, to napkins made of recycled paper. We favour glass bottles for our homemade almond milk, whilst our smoothie and juice bottles are a post-consumer recycled plastic: the 500ml recycled bottles are made from your old soft drinks bottles, which can be fully recycled for a second time after use. Our salad deli pots are made from PLA, a bio-plastic*, so too are our coffee/ tea lids making the disposable cup fully compostable. This year we introduce a reusable Petersham Nurseries coffee cup you can bring to store for your morning coffees.
*A bio-plastic is a renewable resource as the plants re-grow at a rate that is comparable or faster than their rate of consumption. It goes without saying, you will only find paper straws across our restaurants, whilst any disposable cutlery (as used at our pop-up banqueting tent at Wilderness festival) is made from sustainable eco-friendly forest wood that is 100% compostable and biodegradable.
Our kitchens have replaced the traditional substitutes, for imitation greaseproof paper made from sustainable forest paper, 100% compostable and recyclable as well as swapping cling film for renewal, compostable bio- film.
Finally, in our shops and florist, all branded customer bags are 100% recycled paper (though we’d encourage customers to have their own reusable Petersham Nurseries canvas bag) and safeguard our products both in store and online with biodegradable bubble wrap.
Our chef jackets are made from recycled bottles and we look to continue sourcing sustainable uniforms for staff across the board.
Plastic plant pots and produce crates
Unfortunately we have been unable to recycle both the hard plastic pots our plants arrive in and the black plastic crates some of our suppliers use to deliver produce. Therefore we have been proactively returning the crates to suppliers to reuse for other deliveries, plus offering to local allotments, whilst we have been giving away to customer the surplus plastic pots to reuse for growing their own seedlings. We continue our research of recycling companies which are able to recycle these black hard plastics and lobby to eradicate completely harmful landfill plastics.
Petersham Nurseries Richmond is uniquely located adjacent to Richmond Park and Petersham Meadow within London’s historic Thames landscape ‘Arcadia’ – which runs along the Thames from Teddington to Kew. As areas of incredible beauty and sensitivity we believe they are worthy of preservation for the enjoyment of residents and visitors alike – and importantly for future generations.
Moreover, as an increasing number of visitors are now enjoying the area, traffic congestion and increased air pollution need to be considered. For these reasons, we strongly encourage guests to explore and celebrate our location with consideration for its environmental sensitivity, by choosing to visit us via a walk along the Thames or through the park, a quick trip across the river by ferry from Marble Hill Park, or following one of the cycle routes from Richmond, Kingston or Teddington.
Each year, we commission transport surveys to measure and monitor the travel means of our customers and guests alike. Since commencing these annual reports over 10 years ago, a steady decline can be highlighted in customers driving to the site.
It has been clearly demonstrated that our commitment to our sustainable travel via the ongoing surveys and reporting to the local Council, has been restraining the numbers of visitors travelling by car (that proportion being less than 50% of all visitors).
Comparing the historic data vs our agreed travel plan targets the car driver percentage is being maintained well below the Travel Plan target, with the 2015 figure (17%) being 23% below the 2022 target figure (22%). These percentage drops are substantial considering the growth and year -on-year increase in footfall to site and can be attributed to the many incentives we have implemented from better communication about greener travel options with customers, our relationships with taxi companies and requesting only to be serviced by hybrid vehicles, to introducing more bicycle parking.
Moreover, we are always looking for incentives to encourage our staff to travel by sustainable means from introducing a popular Staff Bike Scheme, Loan Annual Travel Cards – hiring locally where we can, and if a staff member requires a taxi subsiding only hybrid vehicles. This approach and philosophy will be extended to our Covent Garden team.
“Petersham Nurseries has created a place of calm where you can reconnect with nature, restoring a sense of balance and space. By celebrating aspects of the home, garden and food, we offer a destination that encourages you to step back and embrace a lifestyle of positive living.”