Growing Ventures in the Surrey Hills

14th August 2019, 10:00 - 16:00

One Sunday morning in the spring of 2008, the congregation of St Mary’s Church, West Horsley, was set a challenge, namely to devise a project that would benefit the whole community. For Su Johnston, the inspiration came while listening to a radio programme about a group of people growing their own vegetables. Soon, amid a flurry of fact-finding, the perfect location presented itself and, in a story that could be straight out of a film, the Grace & Flavour Community Garden was born.

“It was a three-acre, derelict walled garden in the grounds of a nursing home belonging to the National Trust,” says Su. “You couldn’t actually see the walls because it had 30 years’ worth of fly-tipping, brambles and nettles at head height, but we just knew it was the right place for us. And so the seeds of Grace & Flavour were sown.”

Now we have the opportunity to visit this amazing project in its 10th anniversary year, both the allotments and the community garden. You will be astounded at what this group of committed volunteers has achieved.

Plant Passion is our second venue. Claire had been in horticulture for 21 years in late 2012 when she decided that she’d rather like to set up a flower farm. With 12 years of garden centre management including 5 years as the Plant centre manager at RHS Wisley and 9 years of running her own gardening and design business she thought growing and selling flowers would be an easy continuation.

She was wrong, of course. The last 6 years haven’t been easy. Although the learning curve has been extremely steep, the seeds do grow into flowers, they get picked and conditioned in the barn and customers, both florists and locals, come back time and again. “We keep spreading the word so that more people know that there is an alternative to flown-in flowers”, she says. The scent of a barn full of sweet peas, mint and roses in the summer is enough to keep her going when her back is sore.

Our morning will start at Grace & Flavour, where we will be greeted by the volunteers with a cup of coffee.  We will then listen to a short talk about the garden, how it was set up and how it is run today before we have a guided tour of the garden itself.

Between the two visits, we have arranged for lunch to be available at the nearby King William IV pub in Horsley. After your booking you will be sent a menu including snacks and meals, from which to pre-order via us nearer the day. You can then settle your tab at the pub after/during your meal.

In the afternoon we will make our way to Plant Passion for 2 pm which involves a short drive. Claire will first give us a talk about the set up and how it was created before we have a look at the growing area.  She will then give us a demonstration with some of her own flowers, before finishing off with tea and a piece of cake.

The cost of this event will be £14 for members and £16 for non-members including coffee, tea and cake. The lunch which will be at your own expense. This is an event that is not suitable for children or dogs.

If you would like to join us, please book your place online at the bottom of this page or alternatively complete and return the downloadable slip here below before Friday 9th August 2019. Exact locations, times and lunch choices will be sent with the confirmation of booking a few days in advance.


For further details, contact us at

Please note that the Surrey Hills Society and its Event partners accept no responsibility for any loss, damage or personal injury during events. Participants are requested to wear appropriate clothing and footwear and take due care and attention.
The Society uses members’ photographs on social media and on our website.  If you are not happy to have your photo taken during this event, please notify us in writing prior to the event and make the event organiser aware on the day.

By continuing and making a booking you confirm that you have read, understood, and agree to the Terms & Conditions specified in our Cancellation Policy and Responsibility Statement, both of which can be viewed by clicking here


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