Group of people holding tree twigs

Branching out with our new community tree nursery

The humble tree is a true multi-tasker. It provides shelter, homes and food for wildlife and livestock and in summer and its laden, swaying branches keep rivers cool for fish to thrive. Hedges and trees are also a vital tool that help Eden’s farmers manage the flow of water across fields and into Eden’s rivers. These planet protectors are also a means of natural flood management and store carbon whilst they grow!

So, it is no surprise to learn that tree and hedge planting is an essential part of our conservation work, with more than twelve thousand trees and hedges planted each winter – and this number is set to rise in the future.

To meet this demand, we came up with a plan to establish a community tree nursery that would not only mean a steady supply of saplings to plant in future years but also would combine two things we care passionately about: using native, locally sourced trees to help minimise the charity’s carbon footprint and providing innovative ways for local people to get closer to rivers and nature.

Thanks to grants from the National Lottery Heritage Fund  as part of our Access to Eden: breaking barriers, building bridges project and Eden District Council, in October we took control of a neglected, overgrown allotment site in Penrith, and the Eden Community Tree Nursery was born.

Since then, our volunteers (joined for a day by local business, PPM Ltd), along with community groups such as 4Eden and Team Autism have worked tirelessly to clear the site, build potting tables and collect seeds from trees in the Eden valley.

Jenni Payne, Volunteer and Community Outreach Coordinator takes up the story:

The tree nursery has really captured people’s imagination and the energy and enthusiasm has been quite incredible. Our existing volunteers put in extra hours and brought family members for a slice of the action and a good cup of Kelly kettle tea!

Individuals from neighbouring allotments and houses nearby dropped in to find out what we were up to and bring home grown trees to add to the mix. Dog walkers tweaked their routes to walk past the plot and mark our progress.

people working in an allotment

A hive of activity!

Two people using spades to dig up the ground

Clearing the site Oct 2022

people levelling the ground

levelling the ground to create beds

An accessible space, open to all

From the start, the Eden Community Tree Nursery was planned to be a place accessible to all; opening a doorway to conservation where local people, volunteers and community groups could learn about trees and the river and work together to grow and nurture locally sourced seeds.

The nursery is within easy walking distance from Penrith town centre and Jenni has worked hard with everyone to create a welcoming space – but making it truly accessible is a work in progress. We have started as we mean to go on, inviting individuals and members of community groups who experience the greatest barriers to accessing and engaging with nature and conservation along to contribute to the design, development and running of the place.

Man with a potting table built out of pallets

Building potting tables out of pallets

people painting wooden pallets

Volunteers from PPM Ltd painting accessible plant pot stands

Jenni adds:

It’s been fantastic to share the tree nursery with so many new people who might have previously thought ‘that’s not for me.’

There’s been a real buzz around the site, with all sorts of people joining in so enthusiastically; working, talking, turning over stones to look for wildlife, laughing, singing, learning – sowing and growing together.


You can get involved

There’s still lots of work to do to prepare the site so that it can be fully accessible for people with limited mobility/wheelchair users and get the equipment in place ready for planting.
If you’ve been inspired to get involved, contact Jenni Payne on 01768 866788, or email

We would love to hear from:

  • people who could spare some time to help at the nursery – there is a weekly work party at the nursery on Tuesdays between 1 pm and 4 pm (contact us for details or visit the things to do page) as well as occasional sessions on other days/times,
  • community groups in Penrith who would like to visit the nursery and get involved, and
  • local businesses who could donate materials or cash to help us get the site up and running!
Two people holding seeds in their hands

Volunteers collecting seeds for the tree nursery

people stood round a table sorting different types of seeds

Sorting seeds collected from within the Eden catchment

Eden Rivers Kingfisher Icon
Eden District Council logo
National Lottery Heritage Fund logo


Eden Rivers Kingfisher Icon
Eden Rivers Kingfisher Icon