Becoming a cycling gardener was more than likely an inevitability. I’ve never really conformed to convention, either in life or in the garden. When I originally trained, conventional garden practices were all about sloshing chemicals throughout beds, borders, paths and lawns.
Converting to becoming a cycling gardener, felt just as natural as when I converted to organic practices all those years ago.
Now I have a new sense of contentment in the work that I do.
I mean, what’s the point of creating a beautiful garden, just to pollute it with toxic emissions as I pull away in a diesel guzzling van?
No, cycling to and from my client’s gardens, suits me down to the ground and sits handsomely with my ethos on life.
Van Gardener vs Cycling Gardener
- Can carry large equipment and materials
- Somewhere to shelter when it rains
- Can travel to customers further afield
- Emits toxic pollutants
- Exacerbates the climate emergency
- Running costs of around £3,000 a year (fuel, duty and insurance)
- Can lead to expensive garage bills
- An inactive form of travel
As you can see, the van cons are greater than their pros.
- The overall expenses to the business are much less
- Doesn’t emit toxic pollutants
- Running cost of under a couple of hundred pounds per year.
- An active form of travel which is great for personal health
- Cycling is one of the answers to successfully tackling climate breakdown
- It sits totally with the ethos of my business and life
- Oxfordshire is not a cycle-friendly county. Cycle routes are in a bad state and, in some cases, plain dangerous – that’s if there is any provision at all.
As you can see, it really was a simple decision to make.
My decision to become a Cycling Gardener
After seeing thousands of children, my son included, marching through the streets of Oxford in September for the global school strike calling for climate action, I knew that I seriously needed to look at the way I run my business.
I had initially thought about changing all the petrol machinery to electric and charging their batteries via a solar panel on the roof. I also thought about getting an electric van, although I knew this would be economically unachievable in the immediate future.
On the day of the youth climate strike, a friend made a suggestion that he wanted to set up a gardening business based on a bike. I immediately set about snubbing his idea; however, it must have stuck with me.
Then life forced my hand
I’m not big on superstition or serendipity, but it kind of looks like life made the decision for me to become a Cycling Gardener.
I had just got back from a charity walk and litter-pick for Bridewell Gardens when I was feeling great and ready to get back into my gardens.
The van started fine after sitting there unused for a little under two weeks. I pulled out on the main road, and it just wasn’t getting up to speed. In fact, in the 50mph stretch, I struggled to get above 20.
A long story short, and after a £250 garage bill, it became apparent that the van was going to cost more to fix than it would to replace.
The van was dead!
Getting the Cargo-Bike
We were moored in Oxford at the time and I was commuting back and forth to work on my trusted old Dawes bike. Cycling back from the garage to the boat, the idea formed in my head.
Some thought I was mad. Some thought, as I approach my 40th birthday, that it may be some kind of midlife crisis. But I was focused and excited about making the change! From the very first moment it came into my head on that bike ride back home, I just knew it was the right idea for my life, my business, my customers and my waistline…
Over the next two weeks, I researched and ordered my bike and set to work on it straight away managing my customers’ gardens here in Kidlington and North Oxford.
If you need a gardener in Kidlington or North Oxford then please do get in touch.
Richard the Cycling Gardener