Fair to Nature farmers don’t just do great things for biodiversity on their land. They aim for sustainability in all aspects of their businesses. This has been highlighted in the Fresh Produce Journal’s UK Fruit & Vegetable Awards 2016, where G’s Fresh Mushrooms won the Barfoot’s Sustainability Award for their green energy generation. The Barfoot’s Sustainability Award recognises businesses that have gone above and beyond to operate sustainably.
The G’s mushroom farm in Cambridgeshire has developed a system that uses green energy generated from an onsite anaerobic digester instead of energy from non-renewable sources. Heat which is generated during the digestion process is transferred to the mushroom farm and is used in both the growing and hygiene operations, removing the energy-intensive traditional method of steam sterilisation of the tunnels.
The net effect of these actions is a reduction of circa four million kgs of CO2e vs a traditional mushroom farm over the space of a year.
A completely sustainable cycle, every year 25,000 tonnes of spent compost from G’s Fresh Mushrooms is applied on to the wider G’s Farms in the Fens as a soil conditioner. The Fens see on average up to 3cm of soil erosion per year and the addition of spent compost helps to reduce this significantly. Crops from these fields produce the waste material that goes into the anaerobic digester. The cycle continues.
Finally as mushroom farming is traditionally in small farms with enclosed structures, biodiversity and conservation are low priorities. However at G’s Fresh Mushrooms, they are actively developing new and existing wildlife habitats to encompass birds, insects and mammals. This biodiversity incorporates over 150 plant varieties, 20 species of mammals, 110 species of birds, 17 butterfly species and over five different types of specialist habitats, recognised by leading conservation and wildlife trusts as pioneering work.