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New garden centre opens at Jimmy’s Farm

PUBLISHED: 15:00 18 April 2020

The Potting Shed's Keith Bodsworth PICTURE: The Potting Shed

The Potting Shed's Keith Bodsworth PICTURE: The Potting Shed

Archant

Keith Bodsworth was all set to show off his new business last weekend but Covid-19 has drastically changed his plans.

Behind the scenes at The Potting Shed PICTURE: The Potting ShedBehind the scenes at The Potting Shed PICTURE: The Potting Shed

Running a business during the Coronavirus pandemic is tough enough as it is, but what about those who got their business up and running just before the lockdown was imposed? Ask Keith Bodsworth, owner of The Potting Shed.

The Suffolk native has been working as a groundsman and on the maintenance team, along with his team, at Jimmy’s Farm for 18 months. Having witnessed first-hand how much the farm has been growing, Keith decided to use his skills to offer something different.

“We have seen the site become BIAZA licensed as a zoo and wildlife park, a new Jimmy’s Farm TV programme being filmed, and an ever-evolving butchery and larder really taking huge strides forward,” Keith said.

“Jimmy, Michaela and Stevie, their general manager, have been fantastic to work with,” he said. “They were looking for a garden centre to add to their ever-growing venture, to try and increase footfall all year round and support those off-peak periods.”

Lewis Diss and Gemma Culling PICTURE: The Potting ShedLewis Diss and Gemma Culling PICTURE: The Potting Shed

And thus, The Potting Shed was born, with the help of his life and business partner Gemma Cullin and the rest of the team.

“We have loved working here and wanted to support them in their growth,” he explained. “We came to them with a proposal for a slightly different garden centre, where all the stock is sourced from local people including furniture, ironwork, locally made walking sticks and bird tables, to even using local nurseries and stockists.”

Keith prides himself on being a firm believer in both quality and supporting the smaller, more bespoke provider. He added: “Wherever possible, we are trying to promote local craftsman and trades, and bring them together in a small showcase environment.

“Many of these people I have known for years and have used their items in my garden designs and landscaping business.”

Just some of the potted plants available at the new gardening centre PICTURE: The Potting ShedJust some of the potted plants available at the new gardening centre PICTURE: The Potting Shed

A self-proclaimed workaholic, Keith has previously studied at Beth Chatto and is a qualified RHS gardener. He is also a strong advocate for the conservation and preservation of British wildlife.

“In my mind, the garden centre is where I plan to fulfil all of the things I love to do, which is grow my own, build individual displays and planters that people can take home to their gardens, promote rewilding and encourage people to buy species that support British wildlife.”

With his vision in mind and raring to go, Keith got a lease for The Potting Shed in earlier in the year, and was due to have his grand opening Easter weekend.

“I took the lease in February, and in the great excitement of a new venture, began to draw all these small businesses, friends and stockists together, with the aim to launch my new venture at the busiest time of year on the site which is the Easter break.

Keith Bodsworth admiring his greenery PICTURE: The Potting ShedKeith Bodsworth admiring his greenery PICTURE: The Potting Shed

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“We placed orders for plants, had meetings, did deals for bird feed and animal food, and hoped to bring in a local aquatic supplier to really make our new garden centre sing,” he added.

However, the Coronavirus pandemic took over before Keith could open up his shop, and with the country put into lockdown back in March, he has been unable to let the public see what he’s been cultivating behind the scenes.

“Sadly, the world has been overtaken by something far more important than The Potting Shed garden centre, and as a site we were closed to the public before I even got to show people what we were up to.

The Potting Shed's potted plants and garden ornaments PICTURE: The Potting ShedThe Potting Shed's potted plants and garden ornaments PICTURE: The Potting Shed

“Financially, this is very difficult. Although the site has been great in supporting us, we have stock that will not last forever and other businesses relying on us to try and earn some money.”

“As a new business, we have spent a lot of money in setup and sadly as we don’t have accounts yet or a history, we do not qualify for any Governmental support. It would seem with stock ready for sale and plants still needing watering and looking after day-to-day, we were going to sink before we even had a chance to swim.”

But as chance would have it, a Facebook post that Keith had made on his personal page gave him and The Potting Shed a sudden boost – and business has been booming ever since, thanks to a contactless collection or delivery service.

As well as various plants and flowers for sale, Keith is also selling handmade garden furniture.

“The response has been amazing, and we’ve had over 200 requests for plant lists in just two days – something I never thought would happen.

“We are offering free delivery all over Essex and Suffolk for orders over £30,” he added.

To enquire, please contact Keith on his Facebook page by searching Keith Jack Sam Bodsworth, or emailing orders@thepottingshedjimmys.co.uk

“We can send over availability lists to all that would like them,” he said.

Passionately green-fingered and not one to fall at the first hurdle, Keith added: “We are a small family run business supported by a few great staff who all are born and breed locally.

“We are keeping to all the Governmental guidelines, as well as trying to save our new venture and promote our new garden centre, at I guess the worst possible time.

“Thank you to everyone who has shared my post and our plant list, and for the huge, overwhelming support we are receiving. We are truly touched and hope to welcome you all to our garden centre when we survive these tough times and can finally open our doors to you all.”


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