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Measuring your Garden Footprint

Davies, Gareth and Schmutz, Ulrich (2007) Measuring your Garden Footprint. Working paper, Research Department, Garden Organic. [Unpublished]

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Summary

The work reports on a Garden Organic (working name of Henry Doubleday Research Association, Coventry UK) members experiment in 2007. Garden Organic members were surveyed with a detailed paper questionnaire to calculate an average gardening footprint of committed (self-selected) organic gardeners in the UK. This was used to develop a garden footprinting methodology and to create a benchmark of committed organic gardening in the UK. This was then compared to commerical orangic growing and to other household activities with their respective footprint and potential for improvement.
Summary findings:
(116 responses 85% reponse rate).
o The average UK food and drink ecological footprint is around 1.4 gha/ha
o About a quarter of this (25% =0.35 gha/ha) is due to fruit and vegetable production and consumption
o Our members taking part in this survey produced about half their own with an average ecological footprint for their gardening activities of 0.15gha/ha
o This equates to a ‘saving’ of around 0.02 gha/ha, or a saving of 13% on the average UK footprint attributable to fruit and vegetables
o This equates to about a 6% savings in total food and drink footprint which is on a par with double glazing, replacing an old boiler or reduced car use
o Our members could take measures to reduce their gardening footprint by:
- buying ‘good quality’ tools that last a long time
- using manual tools where possible
- buying ‘good quality’ power tools and keeping them well maintained to reduce relative fuel consumption and embedded energy costs
- by being wary of substituting long ‘food chains’ for long ‘supply chains’ of products that they use in their gardens
- by trying to close nutrient cycles; e.g. producing amendments at home (e.g. comfrey), fixing N in situ (e.g. green manures), composting biodegradable materials
- using protected cropping only where necessary and in an ‘environmentally friendly way’ e.g. reuse of materials, second hand strucutures etc.
- reducing fridge and/or freezer use; e.g. turning them off when not in use and buying new A++-rated energy-efficient appliances
o It is still uncertain what positive contributions waste and recycling can make in reducing gardening footprint as some of the issues are quite complex. Many are the subject of ongoing research.
o Producing food at home leads to other ecologically efficient habits as witnessed by the low overall ecological and carbon footprints of our members.
o It is important to realise that as you reduce your personal footprint the proportion due to services and infrastructure spent on your behalf becomes much more important. Solutions to this are likely to be collective and political. Many are likely to revolve around community based activities.


EPrint Type:Working paper
Subjects: Food systems > Community development
Crop husbandry > Production systems > Vegetables
Crop husbandry > Greenhouses and coverings
Crop husbandry > Production systems > Fruit and berries
Environmental aspects
Research affiliation: UK > Garden Organic (HDRA)
Deposited By: Schmutz, Dr Ulrich
ID Code:18432
Deposited On:01 Apr 2011 10:40
Last Modified:01 Apr 2011 10:40
Document Language:English
Status:Unpublished

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