Ecological Evaluation of Cultivation Practises at Dartmoor Chilli Farm
- written by Abigail Wills, BSc Wildlife Conservation
Download it here :
We try as best as we can to live and work in harmony with nature and our surroundings we are able to achieve this with the following :
* The nursery is off grid, we use five large and two small solar panels and a wind turbine for our electricity.
* Rain water harvesting, we have over twenty 1000 Litre water containers which are connected to all of the buildings
* A composting toilet.
* Paper is recycled into briquettes which is then used on our wood burner. We compost all of our household waste and recycle bottles and cans. Plastic which by conscious shopping we keep to a minimum is recycled where possible. We never have any landfill waste.
* We use a woodburner to keep our seedlings nice and snug. We also use fleece in the polytunnel to reduce the risk of damage caused by frost and to discourage/protect against pests!
* Companion planting to deter slugs and snails such as Chervil and Calendula and by using plants to encourage natural predators for aphids.
* Bio-degradable packaging for our plants which can be re-used by customers as mini-germinators for their own seedlings. We also use recycled paper and recycle / reuse all packaging.
* We use biological controls such as Encarsia Formosa and encourage ladybirds and hoverflies in the polytunnels.
* Slugs and snails are manually collected throughout the day and evenings and given a holiday in one of our lower fields.
* We have a wormery which makes a brilliant and nutritious liquid plant feed. We also use comfrey and nettle tea to feed our plants.
* We have planted a mixed fruit orchard of old English and Devon varieties of apples, damsons, pears, plums and greengages. In time we would like to use our own fruit in our chilli preserves.
* We grow a variety of fruit and vegetables which when we can we use in our chilli produce, if we buy in fruit and vegetables we always try and source locally grown produce which reduces unnecessary food miles and helps support other local growers.
* We have planted 1500 hedging plants which will create natural wildlife habitats for greater bio-diversity these include Hawthorn, Blackthorn, Elderberry, Dog Rose, Hazel, Wild Pear, Crab Apple, Briar Rose, Dog Wood etc.
* We have started to plant two acres of coppice consisting of Ash, Walnut and Sweet Chestnut which we will eventually coppice for our wood burner.
Although we are currently supplying our plants in plastic pots, this is only because we are reusing pots accumulated in the last 4 years. In 2013, plug plants will be supplied in coir pots and larger ones in a plant based plastic alternative.
We hope to be able to move entirely over to coir pots in the near future.
We are always looking to add other green projects so please let us know of any suggestions. We have also encouraged other people with similar ideas to implement their own green and sustainable projects in their homes and gardens.
Read our solar guide here :