Down to Zero - Our plan
We are currently operating across two sites, Pontyclun and Mountain Ash in Rhondda Cynon Taf. At these site we actively engage and co-deliver solutions with local people on climate change and local challenges. Our longer term plan is to secure a suitable piece of land in the Rhondda Cynon Taf area to capture and sequester carbon - in simple terms using land to collect and keep carbon. We think we need about 100 acres to deliver our plan. On the land we will set up a series of initiatives that will help us to collect and keep carbon. The main focus of this project is carbon, however there are significant additional benefits around community, tenants and staff. This includes employment and volunteering opportunities, local food production, collaboration with local schools and groups, low carbon building methods and innovative techniques such as biochar production. We have given further details of some of our current work and plans below:
Bee hives and Tree hives
We are working with Bees and developing localised honey. As a major pollinator, bees are vital to nature and local bio-diversity and as such are an essential cog in the fight against climate change. We will also develop tree hives. Tree hives can be placed within forests to encourage bees and increase pollination- vital for all of our flora and fauna.
We have develop a small workshop and are working in partnership with Mens Sheds Pontyclun to make tree hives to sell. These are different to the traditional bee hives that are usually used. They are more suitable and sustainable in the natural environment where the main focus is the well being of the bees, rather than honey collection. Local volunteers will develop the skills to make the hives in conjunction with our staff and tenants. Keep an eye out for tree hive making workshops in our shop!
Veg box scheme - local food production
We plan to grow fruit and vegetables on the land through a combination of fruit trees and bushes and poly tunnel growth. The crops would be rotational within the poly tunnels with crops such as tomatoes, courgettes and runner beans in the summer months and winter crops through the autumn and winter such as winter lettuce, brassicas and winter onions. The seasonal crops would be picked and packed by volunteers to be sold through a veg and fruit box scheme. The box scheme would be focused within the area of RCT and kept at a low price to enable local people to eat local produce. This has significant carbon reduction benefits, the fruit trees and bushes will sequester carbon as they grow but also carbon will be saved through the lower amount of food miles travelled. There is also significant community involvement through volunteering and health benefits through exercise and diet and nutrition. This area of the business is currently in active development - please see the Llysh Bocs page for more details.
We aim to develop and implement agroforestry systems that enable us to sequester increased levels of carbon in biomass and soil. Carbon will be captured and stored in perennial plants that grow alongside trees, which can be managed over short cutting cycles (3-20yrs) to reduce emissions and operational costs.
Biochar is a black, carbon-rich, material produced by thermally treating organic matter (biomass) in zero or limited oxygen conditions using a process called pyrolysis. The biochar product has an increased bulk density and higher calorific value than the source biomass and has a very large surface area consisting of a network of microscopic pores of varying sizes. This highly porous structure enables the biochar to “adsorb” minerals, nutrients, pollutants and water and it therefore has many uses as a soil improver to increase soil porosity and water holding capacity, and to act as a slow-release fertiliser, or as a filter for pollutants, heavy metals, odours, or pathogens. We are setting up a small biochar production site using batch slow pyrolysis kilns to produce biochar to be sold and to sequester carbon within our own land as part of the food growing and agroforestry processes.