Green-fingered Toby’s hard work provides cash for park’s greenhouse project

Budding entrepreneur Toby Hopwood has used his creative talents to raise money for a Hastings charity.

The eight-year-old, who lives in the town, has donated £20 to the Alexandra Park Greenhouse Group after selling seeds, home-grown plants, lavender bags and bath bombs to customers via the internet.

Toby, who is home educated, launched his business called Toby’s Happy Home and Garden Shop three months ago on Facebook. With help from his brother, Ollie, aged ten, and encouragement from his parents, Matt and Marianne, he makes seed packets, nurtures plants and makes bath bombs and bags for the lavender.

Toby said:  “We came to the greenhouse last year and the year before. My mum told me that the greenhouse group was raising money for a roof, so we decided to give some money to the greenhouse. Ollie helped me write the labels for the seed packets and with folding the packets.”

Toby, right, with brother Ollie and parents Matt and Marianne.

His mother said that Toby first grew some hollyhocks from seeds which he collected from the greenhouse two years ago during a Seed Swap event. Since then, he has expanded his range of seeds for sale. Lavender was collected from his own garden and from those of his grandparents, for the colourful bags which are made from fabric samples.

Toby has also given donations to the Bexhill and Hastings Wildlife Rescue and Sanctuary and to Hugletts Wood Farm Animal Rescue at Dallington. He added:  “I think I will probably give more donations to the greenhouse.”

He said that his family keeps hens and has a vegetable patch at home: “I like gardening and I would like a career in horticulture,” he says.

His donation will help the greenhouse group’s Crowdfunding  Raise the Roof campaign which successfully collected more than £10,200 towards putting a permanent roof on the historic, 1930s structure. A supporter has promised to donate most of the money to restore the teak-framed greenhouse and install reinforced glass.

Greenhouse group chairman Linda Pearson, who thanked Toby and  other supporters  for their fund-raising efforts, said donations can still be given to the charity via its website at  Future donations will be used to install eco-friendly heating and lighting. 

She added: “We are thrilled to welcome young gardeners. This is the age group that we want to encourage; this could be the start of a junior gardening club. 

“Every bit of money that we are receiving goes into the restoration fund.  It costs about £3,500 a year to run this place and this money comes from growing and selling plants and from selling donated plants.”       

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