We are working with a group of water industry professionals, the city council’s allotment team and others on a dynamic project looking at water use across Bristol’s allotment community with a focus on Speedwell Allotments as that is where Cultivation Place is based.

Water is a precious resource and with hose pipe bans being implemented in the UK how long before watering allotments during the summer becomes prohibitive? As growers working with and supporting nature isn’t it up to us to reduce our mains use and look at cultural processes to hold water in the soil?

The aim of this project is two fold.

Aim one is to look at how much water we use and how much water we would need to save to never have to use mains water again which sounds like a big ask but we already know that in June we use approximately 1 Intermediate Bulk Container, or IBC’s worth which is 1000litres, and so assuming May, July and August need similar, that we are absolutely able to collect that water from sheds on site. However, we are also in talks with the Housing Association that runs the flats where the old Speedwell Baths are, to look at utilising water from their roof spaces which would enable far more water collection for the entire site, at no extra cost to plot holders.

Aim two is more about cultural processes within food growing and how they can support soil to collect and store more water that is available to plants. There are two reasons to look at this which are firstly that sustainable growing practices need to be quantified as water becomes a less abundant resource due to climate change. Also rain water is undoubtedly better for growing plants and saves on fertiliser use due to it’s chemical makeup and so it is always preferable to utilise what falls from the skies.

Of course it goes without saying that what we are really talking about is healthy soils, another important action to mitigate climate change.

Once we have the results we will, of course, let you know, but we’ll update here regularly.

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