Sustainability as Standard
We are a unique business in many ways, but particularly in how we farm our land and the way we use technology to lower our carbon footprint and improve the quality of our hops.
As a relatively new farming business we are able ensure that sustainable farming practices are standard practice. We haven’t had to gradually learn how to be sustainable, it is already ingrained in what we do and who we are.
We grow approximately 400 acres of hops across two farms and together our sites have over 3km of rivers running through them. As well as creating a stunning setting for our hop yards we recognise that the health of the rivers contributes enormously to the rich and productive soils and terroir that is vital to the final quality of our crops.
Our location makes us one of the largest occupiers of riverbank for the Frome in Herefordshire and by growing hops, as opposed to other crops or livestock, we are actively supporting improved river management. Hops naturally require fewer phosphates than other arable crops anyway and by investing in the latest soil mapping data and using more controlled variable rate fertiliser application we are significantly reducing the level of phosphates used on our farms. We are also able to leave a considerable buffer of land between the edge of our hop yards and the riverbank. This helps reduce the risk of soil erosion and sedimentation build up that can clog waterways, increase risk of flooding and ultimately cause long-term damage to the river’s biodiversity.
Tree Planting and Rewilding
We estimate that in the last 4 years we’ve planted nearly 40 acres of trees across our farm estate and that number continues to rise. As well as new trees, we’ve also undertaken an extensive replanting programme to combat the devastating effects of Ash dieback, the serious fungal disease that continues to blight woodlands across the UK. As a result we are now sequestering well over 70 tonnes of carbon per year. In 2021 we will also be embarking on a new initiative to develop a vast wildflower meadow over 7 acres of our farmland. This will encourage an even wider variety of insects and wildlife onto our farms that will support our vision of a balanced ecosystem for our business.
Our programme of tree planting, replanting, establishing wildflower meadows and generally ‘rewilding’ our environment is an ongoing part of our long-term sustainability ambitions. At Brook House Farm for instance only 45% of our land is actually farmed leaving well over 170 acres that is carefully managed woodland, low-intensity grazing, or part of a range of environmental schemes.
Renewable Energy & Recycling
Energy generated from renewable sources has been utilised across the wider farm group for several years following significant investment in large scale solar and biomass systems. Together these are estimated to have reduced carbon footprints by around 65% since installation. We already have solar in place at Brook House farm with a further investment in solar expected in 2021 to power the cold storage units that keep our freshly picked and processed hops in perfect condition.
We’re continually looking for new ways to be sustainable. Our recent investment in a cardboard shredding machine for our packaging line has dramatically reduced cardboard wastage and we now reuse at least a tonne of carboard every month. Even our sales team have electric vehicles to visit our customers, when they’re out on the road.