Victorian Glasshouse


 Dawlish Gardens Trust (DGT) charity is based in Port Road, Dawlish.  We are a working nursery which is not open to the public.  At DGT we work with adults with learning disabilities, sensory and hidden impairments within a horticulture environment.

Our people range in age from 18-65 years old.  DGT has been working with adults with learning disabilities/difficulties and complex needs who can experience disadvantage in life since 1993. DGT encourage our people to participate in gardening and other activities such as conservation, woodwork, catering and art and craft on site at Port Road and other gardening related projects in the Community. 

Recently we placed one of our people in a work experience position in the beautiful Victorian walled garden at Powderham Castle with its very splendid greenhouse.

The Victorian greenhouse became a talking point between DGT and Powderham Castle with thoughts on how the greenhouse could be used to the benefit of the DGT people and Powderham Castle walled garden.  

A proposal was made where the horticultural interest and skills of DGT attendees could be put to good use for the benefit of the animals by growing vegetables for them in the greenhouse.

The project started in May 2016.  Since then DGT has planted the 7 planters in a ‘paint box’ fashion around the Walled Garden with sweet peas, morning glory and nasturtiums and a few sun flowers.  In the greenhouse there is basil, lettuce, cucumber, courgette, aubergine, tomatoes, peas, radish and cabbage and pak choi and an inherited asparagus and also sage plant.

Our people understand the process of cultivation, harvesting and eating and are enjoying the opportunity of working in the greenhouse and growing the vegetable for the animals.  

Powderham Castle has been very helpful in the orchestration of this project and is giving what support it can to aid its continuance.  In the beginning they provided the seeds and since have provided compost, tools, pots and more recently a kettle!

The project gives our people a challenging and enjoyable opportunity to participate in something which is familiar to them but in a different yet safe environment.  The sense of achievement is great when they can pick the vegetables and then feed it to the animals! These kinds of activity increases confidence and self-esteem and develops a sense of purpose for our guys.  

The Trust was formed in 1993, following changes made by the Health Authority to the way in which people with learning disabilities would be provided for when they closed all the local institutions. It was clear to our founding trustees that these people would be disadvantaged and without any support to help them maximise or achieve their individual potential.

At the beginning the Trust attempted to mirror the activities that were provided by the Health Authority for the Learning Disabled. This was carried out on 70 acres of land at Langdon in Dawlish and the produce was sold in our on-site farm shop. However, whilst this model was successful for a number of years we became aware that to meet the changing client requirements we would need to focus on providing basic education & Working for Life Skills. Using a timely donation we were able to purchase our current seven acre site and commenced developing the required infrastructure.

 In conjunction with Social Services we developed an exciting plan which included providing quality training to enable our attendees to reach their full potential.

Initially, we mainly provided horticultural work but now we offer many other activities & all the attendees are encouraged to participate fully.

 DGT is now recognised by the local Social Services as the main provider of this sort of activity in South Devon. To visit our website please click here