We have shrunk our carbon footprint – again!

We have done it again! PLANT projects have saved over 8 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions last year – an equivalent of driving about 22,000 miles in a petrol car. Together with the previous year’s savings this exceeds our own targets and puts us well on the way to saving over 300 tonnes of emissions over the next 25 years. All thanks to support from the Scottish Government’s Climate Challenge Fund, the hard work of our volunteers, and the amazing enthusiasm of Tayport community.

Frank Woods, a past PLANT committee member and our carbon footprint recorder extraordinaire, told us how the tedious task of calculating carbon emission savings for the project has provided fresh motivation for his own gardening efforts:

I knew practically nothing about carbon footprints when I volunteered to take on the job of calculating PLANT’s impact on reducing carbon emissions.

One of the most remarkable findings is the huge carbon savings that can be made by producing and harvesting food in the local community, compared to supermarket buying.

My own Grow@Home efforts have gained in relevance and satisfaction thanks to my understanding of the benefits to the planet from tending a few rows of tatties, a cabbage patch, cordons of peas and beans, a salad plot…

If you are interested in the numbers, below we give a bit of a breakdown for each of the projects we have run to date including growing food, rainwater irrigation and low carbon travel at Tayport Community Garden, Grow@Home, and Tayport apple juice.

Despite all that success, we are not resting on our laurels just yet. Over the next couple of years we are running a new Carbon Conversations project to help Tayport households take action on climate change and shrink their own footprints from home energy, food and travel. Each household can make at least 1 tonne of emission savings in the first year! To join in simply fill in our online questionnaire.

Local food and carbon footprint

As you probably already know, home-grown food comes with a much smaller carbon footprint than equivalent shop-bought fare. The magnitude of the emission savings, a massive 87%, is surprisingly impressive! They come from savings on transport, packaging, waste and storage. Our projects so far have laregly relied on growing and using more food locally to reduce Tayport’s contribution to climate change.

Food grown

Most of our emission savings last year came from local food production at Tayport Community Garden where an impressive 1316 kilograms (1.32 tonnes) of vegetables, salads and soft fruit were grown on a total area of 290 square meters. Food harvested is 3.8 times the 343 kg total produced in 2016 and with the yield of a yield of 4.54kg/m² it also exceeded productivity of 3kg/m² expected from an average allotment. This accounted for 56% of our total emission savings in 2017 and lots of yummy dinners on Tayport’s tables!

Our Grow@Home participants also chipped in by growing 301 kilograms (0.30 tonnes) of food in their own Tayport gardens, tripling last year’s output.

Apple juice

Further 30% of the carbon footprint reduction last year was thanks to the long-life juice production from excess apples collected in Tayport gardens. 1245 kilograms (1.25 tonnes) of apples were harvested and produced 841 litres of juice. This almost tripled last year’s output! We a rather proud of this project’s success and we would like to give special thanks to our juice master, Will, his helpers, and all of the generous apple donors for their input.

Travel to the Garden

We encourage visitors to Tayport Community Garden to walk or cycle instead of using fossil-fuelled form of transport. Short car trips can contribute significantly to personal carbon footprints so we are happy to report that less than 10% of our visitors take this option, contributing 380 kg emission savings over the last couple of years.

Rainwater system

 

Mains water has a carbon footprint too! At Tayport Community Garden we opted for rainwater collection system and solar-powered irrigation for the polytunnel. Last year rainwater storage capacity was doubled from 4000 to 8000 litres and a pump installed. And last week we finally connected the solar panel up so the system is now completely autonomous! Properly managed, the new system can meet annual irrigation needs (estimated at 38000 litres) solely from captured rainwater. Savings in greenhouse emissions, volunteer labour and savings in water-use too! Another big thanks to Will and Dave for designing and putting the system together over the last couple of years – absolute stars!

If you’d like to find out more about reducing your own carbon footprint, then here are the links once again for our Carbon Conversations project and the online questionnaire.

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