The Oak Tree Low Carbon Action Plan
v5 Feb 2012
Reduced fossil fuel use on the farm
We use hand tools where possible & practical, and only small-scale efficient machinery when necessary:
- Cultivation is minimised to reduce fuel use and improve soil quality.
- Diesel powered cultivation (per unit area of production) will be reduced with time as the soil quality improves and thanks to the pigs’ noses acting as ploughs. Aim for 10% reduction in 2012 growing season, adjusted for increased growing area.
When funds allow we will install renewable energy powered water pumping, options we are exploring include wood gas powered generator or off grid solar PV installation. Drip irrigation and sustainable growing techniques reduce water usage where possible. – irrigation infrastructure unlikely to be possible this year due to lack of funds, but increases in soil organic content should help.
There are no refrigeration facilities on site; instead we concentrate on selling only the freshest vegetables, spraying with drinking water in summer to remove field heat when necessary.
An onsite winter vegetable store (unpowered, probably partially underground and insulated by straw) is planned for 2012, to extend the range of winter vegetables, funds permitting.
We have started developing a permaculture forest garden that will aid water retention, increase atmospheric carbon sequestration and encourage biodiversity, as well as delivering food, fuel and fibre.
Farm vehicle use
Aiming to reduce farm vehicle use for farm related activities – target 20% absolute reduction in 2012 growing season compared with 2011 due to Joanne using her bike trailer much more.
Very local sales
Deliveries are now restricted to central and Eastern Ipswich, except where we make use of a journey that was going to take place anyway (e.g. CSA member who lives in Felixstowe who already travels to Ipswich every fortnight). The ongoing development of the CSA along with building up our very local customer base will enable us to continue to reduce our delivery fuel use (per unit area cultivated). Initial experiments in delivering further afield (e.g. to the Suffolk Food Hall in Wherstead) were abandoned in 2010.
Where possible veg deliveries are made by bike trailer or on foot. The CSA vegetable delivery is by a cooperative effort between all members to reduce carbon emissions, so one neighbour may collect all boxes at one time for the neighbourhood.
We seek to reduce off farm carbon emissions wherever possible (see Carbon Policy for details).
Carbon storage in the soil
Wherever possible we use green manures to capture and store carbon in the soil, including on land not yet used for cultivation, between crops (e.g. winter soil improver) and beneath crops (clover & grass beneath trees & crops). We are also developing Regenerative Agriculture projects to increase the carbon content of the soil. This is a long-term strategy, and soil tests will be performed every three years to monitor progress.