“The production and supply of food is the second largest cause of carbon dioxide emissions per domestic household in the UK.”
“The external costs of agriculture in terms of damage to water, air and soil have been estimated by the Environment Agency to be £1.25 billion per year in the UK.”
The concept of Zero Emissions Farming or Zero fossil Energy Farming – ZfEF – arose from some preliminary work indicating that a vision of a zero fossil energy farm is viable and potentially replicable through the farming industry.
Preliminary analysis by leading eco-footprinter, Best Foot Forward, in 2004-05, suggested that: Commonwork Farm has already achieved a carbon and resource efficient commercial organic farm with a far lower ratio of fossil fuel to productive output than the UK industry standard, but the farm does not exist in isolation and has a further objective: to show how a mixed farm can both deliver the government’s 60% overall carbon emission reduction target from field to dinner plate, and produce and distribute its products without relying on fossil fuel. This creates the ZEF, the Zero fossil Energy Farm, which builds on current leading edge work, but extends knowledge and practice further.
As a first step towards this vision, Commonwork undertook a series of audits and research into energy efficiency and renewable power at Bore Place.
In 2005, eco-architect Bill Dunster drew up a Zero fossil Energy Farm plan for Commonwork.
In 2006, Helen Bentley Fox reported on our greenhouse gas emissions (1400 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per annum).
In 2007, we started applying for funding and saving up ourselves to create a low carbon "hub" at the heart of Commonwork.
In 2008, we installed a wood chip boiler to heat Bore Place House.
In 2009, we were successful in gaining planning permission and funding for our low carbon "hub".
In 2010, work started on the "hub". This consisted of the conversion of the Middle Yard, an Edwardian farm building opposite Bore Place House. A very sustainable build, this converted yard houses the Commonwork resource centre, main reception and offices. It is heated via a wood pellet boiler, has hot water from solar thermal roof panels and rainwater collection to flush the wcs.
In 2011, the "hub" or Middle Yard was opened. Other steps taken this year included taking a loan from Triodos bank to install 50kW of solar PV panels on the cow sheds. Take a look at our Solar energy page for lots more detail on this exciting development.
In 2012, we gained planning permission for a modest wind turbine (having started consultation in 2006) and put up a Gaia 11kW to provide electricity for the Middle Yard.
Also in 2012, we undertook a LEAF-funded audit of the site to investigate how best to develop our low carbon plans into the future.
What will our next steps be?