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Park People: Dave Taylor, Nurture Landscapes

Published on 19 July 2022

This month, we caught up with Dave Taylor, Regional Manager at Nurture Landscapes and one of Milton Park’s expert beekeepers – learning more about his role and the engagement workshops that he helps to run at Milton Park.

Hi Dave! Can you tell us a bit about Nurture Landscapes in your own words…

Nurture Landscapes provides an integrated grounds maintenance service to a wide and diverse range of clients across the UK, including Milton Park.

Over the past 10 years or so, the perception and agenda for landscaping services has changed massively, particularly across big sites like zoos and business, science & technology communities. We’ve gone from our clients wanting everything to be extremely neat and regimented to creating external spaces that are genuinely engaging and enjoyed by people. It’s been really exciting to be part of this process.

We’ve found that bees were a great way to drive this transition, increasing people’s engagement with natural outdoor spaces and providing a brilliant platform to promote biodiversity initiatives and educational events. We installed our first ever beehive in 2008 with the support of our in-house training manager and master beekeeper, John Beavan, and since then our beehive initiative has grown immensely. To date, we’ve installed 170 beehives around the UK and welcomed over 5,000 people to our ‘Meet the Bees’ workshops.

We started working with Milton Park in 2010 and installed the Park’s first two beehives in 2012. At Milton Park, we now have a total of six hives along with insect habitat hotels, bird & bat boxes and duck islands with plans to increase this number in the coming years.

Nurture manages all the maintenance of the external spaces at Milton Park across the core estate, so this includes the roadways, green spaces, drainage systems, biodiversity areas and more. Last year, our transformative work at Milton Park won us a BALI Landscaping Award for Ground Maintenance, considered the pinnacle of commercial landscaping standards – or you could say the equivalent of a landscaping ‘Oscar’!

What does your role as Nurture Landscapes’ Regional Manager involve?

I oversee the management of 14 static sites across the Midlands and South of England for Nurture. This means I support our various contract managers, organise the day-to-day financials, ensure we’re at the correct recruitment levels and work heavily on Nurture Landscapes’ Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) strategy.

Generally, I visit Milton Park once a fortnight, but it can be more depending on what events are happening. During these visits I check on the standards of the external spaces and check-in with my colleagues based at the Park.

More recently, I have become much more involved in supporting our clients, like Milton Park, with community and engagement initiatives such as ‘Meet the Bees’, hanging basket workshops, ‘Gardeners’ Question Time’ and much more, which are really fun and exciting projects to host.

Can you tell us more about the events that Nurture Landscapes hosts at Milton Park?

This summer we’ve been running ‘Meet the bees’ and hanging baskets workshops at Milton Park with about 200 people attending in total across all the sessions. All of our workshops have an educational aspect to them as well as providing Milton Park occupiers time to relax, enjoy themselves and connect with other people on the Park.

During our ‘Meet the bees’ workshops we talk about how honey is produced by bee colonies, how different processes provide different qualities of honey and share ways that you can support pollinators in your own back garden.

Sometimes people arrive at the sessions with a bit of fear initially but once you get them in the suits and let them hold a frame of bees, you see a smile and wonder in their eyes; it’s such a unique moment to witness and makes the sessions brilliant to be a part of. You can see a sneak peak of one of our recent sessions via the video below or on YouTube.

In our hanging baskets workshops, we decided to put a unique spin on the traditional baskets this year by using only edible plants like herbs and vegetables. This provides a great link to food education and we’re able give our attendees gardening tips on how to grow their own produce at home whether you’ve got an allotment, garden or a single window-ledge!

We’ll have more ‘Meet the bees’ sessions coming up in August at Milton Park as well as a ‘Gardeners’ Question Time’, so look out for these on the Milton Park ‘Events’ webpage.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

For me, it has to be the engagement initiatives I now get to do in my role, especially the sessions when I’m working with children. I find now more than ever that because children are being better educated on environmental topics like biodiversity and sustainability in schools, when they come to our sessions they’re already intrigued to learn and understand more, which is great to see.

What do you enjoy about working at Milton Park?

Milton Park is a great place to work because the team here understand the value of quality landscaping and having a well-maintained site, so they genuinely appreciate the service that we offer. In particular, colleagues like Peter King, Milton Park’s Estate Manager, and Jon Hopson, Contracts Manager at Nurture Landscapes, have been key driving forces ensuring everything we do to Milton Park’s external space is worthwhile and purposeful.

How does life and work connect at Milton Park?

Whether at work or during my spare time, I’ve always enjoyed being outdoors. This passion led to me beginning my career in horticulture working as a football groundsman.

Working at Milton Park allows me to spend time across the many vibrant green spaces it has to offer. I really appreciate being able to improve, transform and utilise them to their upmost potential so that others at the Park can enjoy them as much as I do.

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