Sustainability Initiatives Cullen Nurseries

Sustainability Initiatives in Cullen Nurseries Ltd.

Wise Men Plant Trees, under whose shade they shall never sit” – Thomas Fuller


Biodiversity, Sustainability, Climate Change, Carbon offset, Environment are terms that we often hear in today’s language. Taking back the planet one tree at a time is our “reason d’etre”, our values are based on educating, enabling and encouraging people to take small steps that can have a massive impact.

We could write about our policies and Codes of Practices but I would rather here in this blog to focus on actions, the things we have done and the things we intend to do in the future. In Cullen Nurseries, we don’t just talk the talk, we walk the walk. We take steps daily,to run our business with protection of the environment at the centre of our practices.

We’ve Lots done and still more to do.

Flowering Hedging Plants

Focusing on Natives

With a strong emphasis on Native Plants, we grow a wide range of Trees and Hedging plants, offering our customers Irish grown plants that will thrive in their soil. Native Hedging Plants attract bees, butterflies and insects into the ecosystem, whilst also providing a valuable food & shelter source for birds and mammals. When planted near water, can reduce soil erosion and sediment run-off. Native Trees sequester carbon, support biodiversity, reduce soil erosion and sediment loss, provide shade and shelter.

Alignment to UN SDG’s

In November 2022, we took part in our Local Enterprise Green for Micro programme which helped us identify the things we were doing well, the things we could improve on and to design a roadmap for future investment and improvement.

Cullen Nurseries Ltd, are currently aligned to 9 of the 17 Sustainable Development goals as laid out by the UN. These include initiatives such as solar panels, rainwater harvesting, modern irrigation, living wage, external accreditation, gender equality and more.

SDG No 5 – Gender Equality – we have a female CEO who is involved in the day to day running of the business and is an equal shareholder..

SDG No 6 – Clean Water & Sanitation – we have built irrigation systems and we harvest rain water for crop irrigation, thus reducing demands on the well supply. We also use to water for tasks such as power washing and yard cleaning.

SDG No 7 – Affordable & Green Energy – We have LED lighting installed in workshops and packaging stations, and we have also recently secure grant funding for the installation of solar panels as our main energy source.

SDG No 8 – Decent Work & Economic Growth – We value our team members, paying upwards of the Living wage, providing suitable training and education and we also abide to a robust Code of Conduct for Whistleblowers.

SDG No 10 – Reduced Inequalities – We have employed personnel through various Back to work schemes and initiatives and work in conjunction with KARE to provide employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

SDG No 11 – Sustainable Cities & Communities – We host local Transition Year students during their work experience modules, give talks to local community groups, support the Shop Local campaign and offer plants, services and advice to local social & biodiversity projects. We also host changemakers in the Nursery and recently welcomed Senator Pippa Hackett, Minister of State for Land Use & Biodiversity to discuss planting of native species and supplying plants to the ACRES schemes.

SDG No 12 – Responsible Consumption & Production – We adhere to Sustainable Procurement policy, opting for more sustainable materials where possible. We also practice onsite recycling and composting, reworking and reusing packaging materials where possible.

SDG No 13 – Climate Action – We have taken significant steps over the last few years to reduce our carbon footprint and negative effects on the land. We are committed to significant reduction in the use of chemicals in the form of fertilisers and herbicides. We have opted instead to use organic matter for land fertilisation, opting to plant cover crops of mustard seeds that are then ploughed back into the land.

We have also created and nurtured several Biodiversity rich ecosystems through the Nursery over recent times. These areas can be as simple as topping trees and leaving the branches and debris to create ecosystems for small mammals and birds. We allow hedges to grow and cut them on a three year cycle, as these proves to ensure a heavier crop of flowers and berries. We also allow growth of naturally occurring flowering plants that encourage and promote insects and pollinators into the nursery.  

We have strategically planted areas of the Nursery depending on soil types and risk posed. We have planted wetter area of the nursery with Alder trees, which are a nitrogen fixing tree that actually improve soil quality. We have planted Silver Birch through the hedges and ditches of the Nursery boundary, these feathered fast growing trees provide wind and storm protection for the nursery.

SDG No 15 – Life On Land – We have invested in machinery that reduces compaction and negative effects on soil compaction when working on the Nursery. We also keep up to date with modern technology and systems that improve soil quality. We operate crop rotation and management practices to mitigate nutrient depletion.

We encourage and protect wildlife in the Nursery as much as possible, through the creation of ecosystems as detailed above and the erection of bird and bee boxes in the Nursery.

So Let’s talk about Carbon Sequestration – What is a tonne of Carbon and how can we sequester lots of them???

Did you know that 20 Hazel Trees will cost you €30 in cold hard cash, take 2 hours to plant and in 10 years will sequester 4 Tonnes of Carbon?

1 tonne is the equivalent of 2500kms in your diesel car, 500L of Heating oil or 120,000 charges of your mobile phone, that’s one tonne, our small parcel of 20 trees is going to sequester 4 tonnes!!! That’s pretty exciting and that’s only one species of Native Trees.

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Click here to see the Carbon Calculator and determine how many tonnes of carbon your order of Native Trees will sequester over the next decade!

You can learn more about how the steps we have taken and the progress we have made so far, earned Cullen Nurseries the Carlow Chamber Sustainable Initiatives Award in 2023.

To Start your Planting journey of Native Trees and Native Hedging Plants check out our Shop for quality Irish grown products, and you can also learn more about Planting Native Irish Trees in our Advice & Blogs Section.