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Commercial Activity

Botanic gardens can generate income in a wide variety of ways and one of these is by selling goods and or food in a shop. If your garden is promoting a sustainability or conservation message, its important you carry that through in the shop which may be the final stop on a visitor's tour of the gardens.

Some guidelines include:

  • Food could be locally produced and/or organic - you may be able to sell food or herbs that are grown in the gardens
  • You could sell plants and goods made from materials grown in the gardens or by the local community
  • Sell recycled products - you might even be able to sell compost produced on site
  • Keep packaging and disposable items down as much as possible. There are so many biodegradable alternatives to plastic now, there is no excuse to avoid them. You can even use cutlery made from potatoes.
  • Provide recycling facilities and show how you recycle the products - you amy even be able to show that for example, food waste is put into the garden compost, and used on-site
  • If you sell garden products, stick to eco-friendly items such as peat-free compost, and you could offer bird boxes or other products designed to encourage wildlife

Please contact BGCI if you have any queries about enhancing your botanic gardens shop.

Below are some case studies and further information:



Plant Sales at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Kew does not supply plants from its collection to the public, except in the case of the annual plant auction.

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Chelsea Physic Garden

Chelsea Physic Garden has developed a simple system to sell seeds to support the garden’s running costs and at the same time educate buyers about their responsibilities to honour the CBD.

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The Gift Shop as a Site for Education for Sustainability

This workshop developed the theme of the social production or construction of nature by suggesting to participants that the botanic garden gift shop could be a site of education for sustainability if there was careful attention to the origins and presentation of the goods on sale.

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Aburi Botanic Garden Plant Sales

In the past Aburi Botanic Gardens, Ghana, raised ornamental plants for sale to the general public in order to generate much needed revenue to support the maintenance of the gardens.

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Plant Sales

Botanic gardens sell plants for many reasons - to raise funds for running costs, for a specific project, to satisfy visitor expectations, to introduce species to ornamental horticulture or to promote sustainable use. But there are several things gardens should consider when selling plant material.

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Ethical Shopping
This reader-friendly handbook addresses growing consumer concern about the conditions under which employees and communities in developing countries produce goods for the rich world. It provides all the information that concerned consumers need about ethical and fair trade.