Cornwall Sustainability Award Runners Up!

We were so pleased to be recognised with an award at the Cornwall Sustainability Awards 2022!

We entered in the Growing Greener category to showcase what agriculture and horticulture can achieve. We are always striving to embody our mission of ‘creating truly sustainable food production that nourishes people and place’ more fully but feel we already have a huge amount to be proud of.

We believe that the judges awarded us Runners Up 2022 (congratulations to the winners on Scilly) because we have a long list of achievements. Here are some of them:

The Real Food Garden is a carbon negative business, meaning we already take more carbon out of the atmosphere than we emit. We have achieved this through managing our woodland and hedgerows, planting perennial crops and, most significantly, building our soil organic matter which is helping us lock carbon in our soils.

We focus on building soil health to produce high quality produce

Alongside our commitment to a renewable energy tariff, we recently installed solar PV which will meet a significant amount of our energy consumption

We are continuously reviewing our options to reduce bought in animal feeds, with an ambition to halve our emissions from this. We are actively planting more trees and hedgerows, with over 100 fruit trees planted last winter and two additional shelter belts.

Since starting in 2016, we have worked with organic and soil health principles as our guide. Through involvement with the Soil Carbon Project and Farm Net Zero we know that our soil organic matter is building by 1% annually, 10 times faster than average rates. We have focused on feeding the soil food web with locally or internally sourced organic matter and have seen greater resilience in our soil and production as a result.

We have systematically introduced and managed a connected range of habitats on our site with the aim to build our ecosystem services and on the assets of the local landscape, including our woodland which is a SSSI. This includes the creation of several ponds and the bi-annual and sensitive management of hedges and field margins to create corridors for wildlife into the agricultural landscape.

We grow all our crops from seed using our own home made potting compost

We have also planted over 400 native trees in two shelterbelts aimed at providing winter food for birds as well as carbon sequestration and habitat creation & connectivity. We use our pigs to create areas which are sown with cornfield annuals, seeds for wild birds and herbal leys for soil health. This area amounting to around 1/3 acre per annum has seen a huge increases in pollinators and seed-eating birds.

We have always been focused on being a closed loop business that conserves natural resources. This has involved the integration of pigs to turn waste vegetables into quality food and in turn fertilising the soil for further vegetable production.

We sow areas of herbal leys in order to be able to manage livestock without avermectins. We use our flock of sheep to fertilise areas of grass that are within the vegetable rotation to reduce the need for organic matter inputs. We also use green manures within our rotation to nurture soil health and keep our fertility closed loop.

Our irrigation is from our borehole, incentivising us to use this resource wisely. We use drip tape to minimise any evaporation or wastage, as well as watering at the optimal time of day for absorption by crops. We aim to reduce water use by increasing organic matter content in the soil so that water is held better within the soil.

The result is great tasting produce that nourishes people and place

To find our more about the Cornwall Sustainability awards and all the other winners head to the Business Cornwall website.

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