The environment is in the news a lot these days; it’s important that we take care of what we have and do what we can to protect and improve the environment.
How does this affect us at Tiptree?
Today, the farms cover 850 acres with every acre managed and farmed in ways that support and nurture the environment. We farm to LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming) standards using their Integrated Farm Management (IFM) framework. Put simply, that means everything from energy uses, waste management, water and soil management is part of the management process. More recently, the Tiptree estate has become a Demonstration Farm for LEAF, helping to explain more about farming and how it fits with local communities and the countryside today.
There’s no substitute for seeing for yourself and the Tiptree farms are a great place for a country walk. Three Public Footpaths run from one side of the farms to the other and there’s a Permissive Footpath linking Trewlands Farm with Tiptree Hall Farm. Display boards help to explain what is happening but watch out for tractors and other farm equipment, it’s a working farm!
A cornerstone of the business is combining great tasting fruit and product with sensitivity to the environment. A key feature of the Tiptree farm is the native hedging that is home to a diverse range of wildlife including hares and muntjac deer. ‘Wader scrapes’ created in the landscape benefit many wading birds such as lapwing, redshank and snipe. Use of chemicals on the farm has been reduced by a full 80% and now, bees, ladybirds and other insects do some of the crop management work for us.
Some of the orchards are farmed organically, with much of the fruit being used in Tiptree’s range of organic jams and chutneys. We’ve created a new orchard with 6,000 fruit trees, including many old English apple varieties, nuts, cherries and pears as well as apricots and peaches. The plan is that visitors will be able to adopt their very own fruit tree and find out more about fruit farming and the environment.
In recent years our tree planting programme has included 4,000 trees that are there simply for what they add to countryside; oak, ash and silver birch for example. We’ve also replanted 3 miles of hedgerow and many of the fields now have wide headlands that encourage wildlife.
Caring about the environment makes great commercial sense too: every activity and every product we make has an impact on the environment and every part of our business can help save resources. Regardless of the product, whether it’s jam, chutney, marmalade or indeed even cake, the dedication to conservation is there.
Energy and water management as well as prevention of pollution are fundamentally important to our business. If we can re-use the water we cook with, that cuts our requirements by as much as a half. On the farm, highly controlled irrigation has helped reduce water demand by as much as two thirds for some fruit.
If you have time for a visit, be sure to call in to the tea room for tea and a slice of cake after your walk. Depending on the time of year you visit, look out for hares, rabbits, larks, honey bees, sea buckthorn, ladybirds, snipe, dragonflies, Little Scarlet strawberries, butterflies. Spot all ten on one visit for a gold star and free cake; but only if you can tell the difference between a stoat and a weasel!
Tiptree has a long term plan for the future and this includes further commitment to and development of environmental policy and practice. Wilkin & Sons make sure employees, shareholders and interested parties all understand the strategy and theory, but more than that, everyone involved is encouraged to play an active role simply by behaving responsibly and acting with care.
In just one year, waste management allowed us to recycle 820 tonnes of material that would otherwise have gone to landfill. For those who know their Kilowatts from their elbow, the most recent energy audit reported savings of 1.4 million kWhs – enough to provide power to 300 average family homes for a month. We also saved 335 tonnes of CO2.
Kevin who is something of an energy ‘guru’ for Tiptree says that our energy management programme has been running since 1994 and each year, we undergo an energy audit by independent consultants to ensure we’re on the right track. Targets laid down by the FDF-Climate Change Agreement have all been met and we have a recycling target of 90%.
When it comes to plastic, we are in a better position than many, as we fill our jams, marmalades, honeys, and the like into glass jars. We are, however, working to reduce our use of plastic in a number of areas such as tamper seals and tertiary packaging. Our glass jars are made using recycled glass and we recommend that they be recycled locally to the place of use. We also enjoy it when people find ways to upcycle them, such as using them as salt & pepper pots, tack holders and receptacles for makeup paraphernalia.
If you have any questions or would like more detailed information about ways in which we’re working to protect the environment, please do get in touch with us here.