In an effort to create a more engaging, sustainable attraction, the HRP Kew team introduced several new measures than have created a fantastic visitor experience whilst increasing both environmental and financial sustainability. These changes are: introduction of takeaway garden produce, recycled heritage interpretation and implementation of a new volunteer programme.
The three new interventions in the Kew Palace Kitchen Garden were significant sustainable innovations in the following ways:
- In the past, the Kitchen Garden at Kew Palace has always grown fruit, vegetables and herbs that might have been used by the Royal Family at Kew in the 18th century. This produce was display only and was not used. This year, the HRP Kew team have ensured nothing goes to waste, harvesting and putting out fresh produce daily for Garden visitors to help themselves to. This encourages sustainable eating, with the produce carrying very low food miles and encouraging people to prepare their own produce rather than buying pre-packaged veg from the supermarket. Our volunteer gardeners share hints and tips with visitors on how to grow and prepare vegetables. In return for fresh produce, visitors are asked to leave a donation which goes back into the conservation of the Historic Royal Palaces properties.
- This year, the HRP Kew team have added additional interpretation to the Kitchen Garden to assist with the understanding and engagement of the different crops. The interpretation takes the form of text screenprinted onto large slates. The slates are historic building materials left over from the HRP restoration of the Great Pagoda at Kew in 2018, and were sitting unused. Visitors love that the slates have a history, and that they can actually still see some of the old Victorian red paint from the Pagoda on the plates. Because they are roof slates, they have weathered extremely well and are long lasting. This was the perfect upcycling interpretation project.
- Finally, by introducing a new volunteer programme, we have engaged the local community with the Kitchen Garden both by training and developing volunteers and through the engagement they have with visitors to the Garden.
The above measures mean that when Kew Palace Kitchen Garden opened in June 2021 after 20 months of closure, we had used the lockdown to carefully consider what we could do at low cost to delivery a more enjoyable and more sustainable visitor experience for our guests.
Spectrum Screenprinting assisted with graphics on the interpretation.