For Penny Snowden, Grounds Manager at Bath Spa University, the biggest challenge facing her grounds maintenance team is managing the balance of diverse student activity whilst keeping the historic 88-acre Newton Park campus in pristine condition all year round.
Newton Park, leased from the Duchy of Cornwall, is located to the west of Bath in the rolling Somerset countryside.
It’s the largest of the university’s three main campuses, featuring an 18th century pleasure ground with lake and extensive open spaces, sports pitches, a walled garden and Italian garden, as well as buildings from a mixture of ages including many listed buildings like the Grade I Listed Mansion House.
The campus is also home to a variety of wildlife, including great crested newts and several species of bats.
Penny said: “This is a fantastic campus in an idyllic location with a great mix of old and new buildings and some first class facilities. My role as grounds manager is to keep it looking its best all the time. There have been some big changes to the campus recently with new residential accommodation units being built along with modern academic buildings as part of massive development plans to enhance the campus further, so it’s a huge job but my team and I love the challenge!”
Penny learnt her trade by watching her dad who was also a Head Gardener and has followed in his footsteps by choosing a career in horticulture. Penny took the role at Bath Spa University and has never looked back.
Penny continued: “This is such a demanding and varied job. Being able to keep up with the grass cutting cycle is our main challenge, but there’s also a lot of general horticulture work, like pruning, mulching and planting. We have a conservation management plan in place to ensure the biodiversity and special character of the place re well managed, we try to ensure we maintain everything to the highest standards and are extremely proud of how good the site looks.”
Having the right equipment and machinery that can help Penny and her five strong team achieve the best results is absolutely paramount.
“We use Kubota groundcare machinery because of its reputation as the best on the market,” continued Penny. “We need machinery we can trust, that doesn’t let us down and that can get the job done effortlessly. Operator comfort and ease of control are also vitally important. We get all this and more with Kubota. This is backed up by first class aftersales support from our local independent Kubota dealer – Lister Wilder.”
Penny’s most recent addition to her machinery fleet is a Kubota STW40 compact tractor. With the ability to handle a range of tasks with quick and powerful performance, the STW40 features hydrostatic power steering and Kubota’s unique Bi-Speed turn to make turning much easier and smoother with minimal potential damage to a ground’s surface. With 360-degree visibility thanks to its four-pillar cab design, the 40HP STW40 is powered by a powerful Kubota engine, renowned globally for its innovation and performance.
“When we purchased the Kubota STW40, we were able to replace a physically larger tractor with this smaller model because the Kubota could match the performance of a bigger machine and do exactly what we needed it to,” said Penny. “This is testament to the power of the machine. The tractor is an invaluable asset for our team, carrying out mainly trailer work for tasks like delivering mulch and transporting arisings, but we have also used PTO units for reseeding a large part of the Parkland. It’s also performs exceptionally with our snake mower on our sports pitches.”
Along with the STW40, Penny also has a Kubota diesel ride-on mower in her fleet, the G26. Ideal for precise and clipping-free mowing in high presentation areas, the G26 is a versatile mowing solution that helps the team increase productivity and tackle difficult jobs with ease. Bath Spa University’s estates team also have two Kubota RTV utility vehicles for getting around the site and across difficult terrain with ease.
Penny continued: “Not only is the G26 an absolute workhorse when it comes to grass cutting, but it’s also fantastic for leaf collecting too in Autumn, allowing us to produce our own compost for the beds and borders, saving us valuable time and money. The two RTV’s not only allow us to access areas that others vehicles can’t reach, but they also enable us to be more efficient when transporting materials around the campus, meaning we can split our team up to get more done.
“All four machines play their part in helping Bath Spa University look a first class site that everyone involved with at the campus, from the lecturers, students, and my grounds team, are extremely proud of.”
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