Posts Tagged ‘sustainable’

  1. Grow CSA farms this summer

    July 12, 2017 by Elisabeth

    Summer 2017: CSA Network UK celebrates its last two years growing the community supported agriculture (CSA) movement in the UK. CSA farms reconnect the public with local food and support ecological farmers.

    Maresa Bossano, CSA Network UK co-ordinator says: “The growth in the number of CSAs setting up over the last two years, as well the number of those contacting the CSA Network UK for advice, shows the public appetite for fresh, local food, as well as the dedication of small farmers producing sustainable food.”

    CSA Network UK is reaching out to new supporters this summer.

    Maresa Bossano continues: “With its abundance of fresh produce, summer is a great time to encourage supporters to join. The CSA Network UK is open to anyone who supports a fairer local food system. Supporters get discounts as well as the knowledge they are supporting the real food revolution.”

    Achievements 2015 – 2017:

    • At least 15 new CSAs have started up
    • Nearly 100 CSA farms listed on the CSA Network UK map
    • Annual national CSA events raise awareness of Community Supported Agriculture
    • Mentoring programme provides one-to-one advice to new and existing CSAs
    • Training and networking events held at CSAs nationwide.

    What is a CSA?

    The CSA movement began in the UK in the late-1990s to counter the negative effects of industrial agriculture by reconnecting people with fresh local food produced with ecological farming methods.

    Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) comes in many shapes and sizes including one-acre shared fields, subscription veg box schemes, pig shares, and community-owned farms.

    The CSA model connects people to an ecological farm though a membership scheme which supports the farmer both with finance and community involvement. In return, members receive weekly fresh produce, and opportunities for volunteering, training, children’s activities, and celebratory events to mark the seasons.

    For case studies, images, quotes, interviews and a PDF of 2015-2017 achievements, please contact Elisabeth (0777 399 8642) or Maresa (07975 829706).

    Notes to Editors

    Inspired by examples from France, Japan and the US, the number of community-supported farms in England grew from a handful to around 80 with support of the Making Local Food Work programme 2007 – 2012.

    Making Local Food Work was a five-year Big Lottery-funded project, co-supported by the Soil Association, Sustain and other ecological farming organisations. Post-funding, the Soil Association and others carried on to develop the network.

    CSA Network UK launched in Stroud in December 2013 as a new organisation, to promote community supported agriculture and support CSA schemes. It has been operating independently of the Soil Association since April 2015.

    CSA Network UK has three core values: people care, earth care and fair share. CSA Network UK is one of over 80 food and farming organisations supporting A People’s Food Policy, launched 26 June 2017 in response to the start of Brexit negotiations.

    Individual supporters pay annual membership of £25 receive discounts on LandBase courses, polytunnels and books including from Green Books and books and courses by Charles Dowding.

    Is there a CSA farm near you? Find your nearest community supported agriculture farm.

    @CSANetwork on Twitter and CSA Network UK on Facebook.


  2. Environmental law conference – Sustainable Cities, Trump and Brexit

    June 28, 2017 by Elisabeth

    7 – 9 July 2017, University of Nottingham: International experts join the 2017 UKELA (UK Environmental Law Association) annual conference to raise awareness of legal challenges and opportunities for protecting the environment.

    The month after the US drew out of the Paris Accord on climate change, the conference will hear from Seth Davis, Chair of the American Bar Association’s Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources.

    Seth Davis says: “Where the federal government shrinks from enforcement, state and local governments and the public itself must be prepared to step into the breach. We must defend absolutely the rule of law. This responsibility is both individual and collective.”

    The conference is organised by UKELA (UK Environmental Law Association), the charity which aims to improve understanding of environmental law for the sake of a better environment.

    “The conference is a must for anyone interested in environmental law,” says UKELA Director, Linda Farrow. “We are delighted that top legal minds are joining us to share their expertise. By improving understanding, we can make the law work for a better environment.”

    The charity’s president is leading environmental lawyer, and Supreme Court Justice, Lord Carnwath. One of the eleven judges in the Miller vs  Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union case, Lord Carnwarth will chair a report from the charity’s Brexit Task Force examining how leaving the EU offers both challenge and scope to use UK law to improve the environment.

    The conference’s three plenaries will focus on sustainable cities and the law. With over half the global population living in urban areas, legal practitioners need to understand how environmental laws can improve a city’s health and sustainability.

    The keynote speaker is Dr Alfonso Vegara – world-renowned for his work on the evolution of cities. Experts including the legislation leader from UN-Habitat (mandated by UN to promote sustainable towns) will share their learning, while delegates will gain the tools – best practice, and legal and regulatory mechanisms – for making UK cities more sustainable.

    Delegates will be able to gain 7.5 of their Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points for one year by attending the three plenaries which address 1) the global role of cities and city governance particularly in relation to climate change 2) UK-based legal and regulatory mechanisms for sustainable cities and 3) environmental issues in cities, with emphasis on air quality, water management and biodiversity.

    There will be networking opportunities including a quiz, music, wine tour, gala dinner and a guided walk in the Attenborough Nature Reserve.

    Media passes and speaker interviews may be arranged on request to elisabeth.winkler @


    Notes to editors

    1. UKELA  (UK Environmental Law Association) is the UK charity which aims to make the law work for a better environment and to improve understanding and awareness of environmental law. Membership is open for anyone interested in environmental law. UKELA also supports the Environmental Law website for the public in Plain English.
    2. The full UKELA conference programme is available here.
    3. Shortly after Trump’s announcement to withdraw from the Paris Accord, “the governors of California, New York, and Washington founded the United States Climate Alliance to continue to advance the objectives of the Paris Agreement despite the withdrawal; similar sentiment has also been expressed by other state governors, mayors, and businesses,” according to Wikipedia
    4. Friday morning pre-conference walk from the Attenborough Nature Reserve is free but booking is required
    5. Conference proceedings will be published after the event by Law Text in a special edition of Environmental Law and Management (ELM). This is free to delegates.

  3. UK’s first straw bale housing is answer to housing crisis says eco-developer

    March 5, 2015 by Elisabeth

    The seven straw bale homes, Shirehampton, Bristol, under construction

    In the week the Conservatives promise 200,000 new homes, a Bristol developer calls for more homes to be made sustainably, durably and affordably – from straw.

    “We have proven there is a huge demand for housing that does not cost the earth – financially or environmentally,” says Martin Connolly, the eco-developer at the heart of the straw bale housing in Shirehampton, Bristol, the first commercially-available UK straw bale homes.

    “Our homes help people out of fuel poverty because they are insulated so efficiently they need little heating, and are made of natural non-toxic materials.”

    Made to an unique design by Bristol-based designers, ModCell, they are the first UK straw bale homes to be mortgageable, having received BM Trada’s Q mark certification.

    Since the houses were advertised for sale last month, Martin Connolly has been inundated by requests from all over the world to build more straw bale homes.

    Martin Connolly, Bristol green developer and builder

    Martin Connolly’s family company, Connolly and Callaghan, won the 2009 Environmental/Conservation Development of the Year for its solid wooden blocks of flat at Pennywell Green, Bristol. He is also the landlord and sponsor of Hamilton House, a community hub that is helping regenerate the Stokes Croft inner-city area of Bristol.

    Following these successes, Martin scoured the news worldwide for a new green building enterprise to develop.

    He found it on his doorstep – after seeing ModCell featured on TV’s Grand Designs.

    Martin Connolly says: “We were especially impressed that ModCell was the first design we had come across that did not use plaster board which is horribly toxic, but compressed straw instead.”

    Martin Connolly relied on his 30 years experience in building houses to help make the designs more affordable and practical. “We especially wanted to make sure the design would get all the certification necessary to be mortgageable.”

    Benefits of straw bale housing

    The straw bale housing development of seven homes was erected on site in only nine days, thanks to their precision factory-made panels which slot together perfectly. Fitting-out the interior takes a further few months.

    Storm-proof, the homes are so well insulated they need little heating even in winter. The quickness of the build adds to their affordability. And, although as strong as a brick house, unlike brick, straw bale houses have a carbon-negative footprint.

    Grown in fields with the power of the sun, straw absorbs carbon dioxide as it grows and needs very little processing to be turned into bales for building. The compressed straw is fitted between sturdy wood panels.

    Alleviating housing crisis and climate change

    As a social landlord committed to helping homeless people since the 1980s, Martin Connolly is delighted the new straw bale technology will mean future housing can be affordable.

    Connolly & Callaghan has been building and running social housing for nearly thirty years, and provides emergency accommodation and food for homeless people every night of the year in premises in and around Bristol

    “We got into straw bale housing to explore how we could make housing more affordable,” says Martin Connolly. “What was behind it was concern about homelessness and the environment.”

    Martin Connolly says: “In the first instance, we wanted to achieve natural non-toxic house building which sequesters carbon. Hugely insulated and air-tight, the homes produce virtually all the energy they need to run. We are installing rain water harvesting to cut down water and sewage bills, and LED lights, solar panels and an air-source heat pump to reduce light and heating costs. Bath University research shows the running costs can be reduced by as much as 90%. And, as volume of sales increase, we can strive to make the house purchase price even more affordable.”

    Scientifically proven

    The ModCell design benefitted from a partnership with Bath University researchers, government-funded by Innovate UK, which has scientifically proven straw bale as an eco-friendly and robust building material.

    Director of ModCell, Craig White, and director of White Design, the scheme’s architects, says:

    “Working with an enlightened developer like Martin Connolly – whose mission is to deliver triple-bottom line in sustainability – has helped catalyse the means by which we can help deliver sustainable living in low-carbon affordable homes for more people than ever before.”

    Craig White adds: “Personally I think Martin is an extraordinary man – he is a natural social entrepreneur, even before the phrase was coined.”

    Yesterday (4 March 2015), it was announced ModCell had been awarded the prestigious Passive House Component Certification for its latest straw bale building system.

    PassivHaus is the the most rigorous energy standard in the world, reducing the need for heating or cooling to an absolute minimum.

    Because ModCell is made from the carbon capturing, renewable materials timber and straw, the homes actually bank more carbon than is emitted in making them, so it’s good for the planet.

    This new system will be used on Martin’s next developments.

    Next phase – community development

    Planned for June, the next development will build 49 homes in Shirehampton. These will be geared towards a community-led development.

    Benefitting from the Coalition’s localism agenda, new regulations now enable local people to deliver community-led developments.

    This trend is underlined by the Conservative Party’s housing policy which proposes to force councils to free up plots for people who want to build houses.

    One of the reasons houses are so expensive is that developers sell houses at the highest market price they can command.

    Martin Connolly has a radically different approach:

    “Our aim is to support communities to create housing at affordable prices in line with local wages, as ModCell has done for the successful Lilac housing cooperative in Yorkshire.”

    Martin is now looking for landowners and would-be community developers sympathetic to his ethical goals.

    “We want to work with local authorities or landowners in a more co-operative way to deliver affordable housing,” says Martin Connolly.

    Press contact: 0777 399 8642  Connolly and Callaghan  0117 942 0100

    Watch video by Plastic Buddha Productions: First glimpse