Measuring your Garden Footprint: Final Report

Gareth Davies, Ulrich Schmutz

Research output: Book/ReportBook

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Abstract

Garden Organic (Henry Doubleday Research Association) members' experiment on measuring the ecological and carbon footprint of home and allotment gardens in the UK. The experiment sent out 136 questionnaire forms to Garden Organic members and 116 returns were received with represents a return rate of 85%. Results showed that the general lifestyle carbon footprint based on a freely available on-line footprint calculator of Garden Organic members was 7.4 tonnes CO2 per person on average with a range from 4.4 to 12.6. This is considerably below (about 66%) the national average of 10.92 tonnes per person and may represent what is achievable with a raised awareness in the general population. Regarding the specific gardening footprint 114 members gave an estimate of the area of their gardens and/or allotments. The majority of members produced fruit and vegetables in their gardens (58%) or in their garden and on an allotment (36%). Only a few (4%) produced exclusively in an allotment. The average total land area reported was 1955 m2 with a min 25 m2 to a max 25,000 m2. However, the average is distorted by a relatively few number of large gardens so that the geometric mean is a better reflection of the average garden size at 733 m2. The overall average of productive area is 1036 m2 and the mean is 389 m2. Members reported that they spent an average of 10.4 hours per week in their garden and/or allotment averaged over the whole year. Further results are: o members produced about half their own fruit and vegetables with an average ecological footprint for their gardening activities of 0.15gha/ha, this equates to a ‘saving’ of around 0.02 gha/ha, or a saving of 13% on the average UK footprint attributable to fruit and vegetables o This equates to about a 6% savings in total food and drink footprint which is on a par with double glazing, replacing an old boiler or reduced car use Further measures to reduce the gardening footprint are o buying ‘good quality’ tools that last a long time o using manual tools where possible and buying ‘good quality’ power tools and keeping them well maintained to reduce relative fuel consumption and embedded energy costs o by trying to close nutrient cycles; e.g. producing amendments at home (e.g. comfrey), fixing N in situ (e.g. green manures), composting biodegradable materials o using protected cropping in an ‘environmentally friendly way’ e.g. reuse of materials, second hand strucutures etc. o reducing fridge and/or freezer use and buying new triple A-rated energy-efficient appliances.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherGarden Organic
Number of pages40
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2007

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