SUSTAINABILITY is something close to the heart of Stillingfleet Lodge Gardens and Nurseries. And that is why it is entering the Think Green Business Of The Year category at The Press Business Awards 2011, as well as Tourism And Hospitality.

The business, which employs four people, has introduced many initiatives over the years to reduce water and electricity usage and recycle. It even runs courses to teach environmentally sustainable practices to others.

The business uses low-spread water heads in the nursery on a timer to prevent wasting water and it collects roof water and overspill from the nursery to pipe to the pond to maintain water levels.

It has a water meter and has installed water reducing devices in its toilets and café.

Its premises use automatic lighting where possible and it holds a short working day in the low season, reducing the need for light and heating, uses insulating blankets over pot plants in cold weather, reducing the need for fan heaters to thaw pots.

It has nine compost bins and a wormery to recycle all soft vegetative matter, kitchen waste, biodegradable café waste and newspapers.

It also recycles grass cuttings, fallen leaves and even chicken manure on the garden, and uses trimmings from trees as logs.

The café uses local food suppliers and sells honey made from its own bees and it encourages a diverse range of wildlife to make the gardens its home.

Owner Vanessa Cook said: “Stillingfleet Lodge Nursery is developing an innovative approach to marketing the business to encourage more visitors both nationally and locally, while retaining the actual garden along traditional and sustainable lines.

“We feel there is space within the tourism market for an attraction that offers peace, tranquillity, quality and value for money.”