Thursday, 18 October 2012

Castle Garden Summer 2012

What we got up to in the garden this summer....

In July, we got some Castle staff and garden volunteers involved in creating a cob pizza oven, with the help of Cob in the community. We mixed clay, sand and straw and made the oven over two days.   Barry and Rosa helped with the design and creation of the plinth. Barry spent a few weeks previously doing all the groundwork creating a solid plinth with recycled bricks, bound together with cob, (which he spent a few hours showing us his salsa moves over). He filled the plinth with rubble, sand, and bottles to create a solid heat retaining base.

A few weeks later at the garden party, we fired up the oven and made about 50 pizzas. We finished off with a foccaccia made from the milled wheat we grew in the garden last year.

This summer also, was the first season to see a great abundance of berries from the garden! Strawberries, loganberries, tay berries, raspberries, japanese wineberries & black berries. The kitchen made great use of them in cakes,flapjacks, muffins and jams.

Mid September, the Castle took part in Urban Food Week. All of the vegetables that week used in the cafe food, was either harvested from our garden or bought from Growing Communities new 4 acre farm in Dagenham.

We had the duty managers in the garden for an hour, during their staff training day. They all took part in a garden task that involved a full cycle of what is involved in veg growing. They turned the compost, top dressed some veg beds with new compost, sowed some winter greens seeds, planted out, and did lots of harvesting! including salad for their lunch.

                                           grapes and pears harvested from our garden

During the summer holiday, we held a family/child friendly workday in the garden and invited children from the Castle membership and the local community and held a scarecrow wildlife habitat and recycled sculpture making day.  The local Wildlife Trust at East Reservoir came along with their tools and materials and helped make a new bug habitat and bird boxes, which have added to our wildlife habitats in the garden.  Min and Christina led a scarecrow making. As well as a big scarecrow wearing a Castle hoody, they got the kids to make these mini ones made from recycled wooden cultery from the Castle Garden party!

Min and Christina with the Castle Scarecrow

London Wildlife Trust making a bug house near our pond

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Environmental Report 2011

After many hours spent chasing invoices, looking at spreadsheets and working out emission factors we've finally published our Environmental Report for 2011. I don't know (yet) how to add a document to this blog, so if you'd like a copy sent to you please email me at and I'll be happy to send you a copy. It's important to me that this information is available so that other businesses can learm from our experiences and help reduce their own carbon footprint.

  If you just want a quick summary of the key facts, read on:

- Carbon Footprint for 2011 : 100.17 tonnes CO2e (14.5% reduction from 2010, 27% reduction from when we started reporting in 2008)
- Cafe : we opened our own kitchen to process food grown in our organic garden. In 2011 we were just starting to transition from purchased food to homemade- this is nearing completion in 2012.
- Shop : we continue to increase our range of certified organic cotton clothing and bluesign labelled products. The refurbishment in August/September has made the shop more energy efficient with better lighting and insulation.
- IT : we've redesigned and upgraded network to reduce power consumed onsite.
- Waste : we've significantly reduced our waste to landfill (by 78%). We now send one 240L bin to landfill per week. Not bad for one the country's busiest climbing centres!
- Travel: this is the one area that we've not improved on. Due to the higher number of guest setters travelling to London, we have more carbon emissions than in previous years, but less mileage. Must do better.
- Electricity consumption has gone down quite a bit. We have yet to analyse all of our monitoring data, so we don't yet know what changes are most effective.
- Water consumption has remained constant despite increased demand from our garden because we are using rainwater and greywater to irrigate.
- The garden saw many developments in 2011, most of which are reported by Ida on this blog. Key ones included a greywater filtration system, a wildlife pond and many more plants.
- Our two big events - the annual garden party and xmas party- were very low impact with minimal waste.
- We awarded two Castle eco-grants in 2011 to staff to be able to volunteer their time to environmental charities.
- We continue to offer Bike To Work scheme and eco-days (bonus holidays for sustainable travel) to staff.

We're able to do all this because of the support of our shareholders, our Board of Directors and the continued commitment of all of the staff. Thank you!

Audrey Seguy, Managing Director

Thursday, 4 October 2012

The New River and waste

One of our customers, Jo Homan, recently wrote a great piece on the Transition Network website, talking about one of our great local landmarks and what it tells us about our attitude to waste.
It describes how the New River was constructed 400 years ago to deal with a problem that we still haven’t solved today and talks about some of the alternatives.
The only thing I’d like to add (and you’ll have to read Jo’s article to find out why) is that compost toilets don’t take that much room: Probably a space the size of a broom cupboard in the average house.  For a description of how compost toilets work you can see this entry in Wikipedia
And yes, you can expect to see them installed at The Castle sometime in the next two years.  Watch this space……