SFC news published since 2018. See SFC archived content for earlier news articles.

This Climate Week we want to share some of the things that staff at SFC have been doing in their own lives to help in fighting the climate crisis.

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Hazel Dalgard

This year our family harvested our first veggie crop from garden planters. I had strange flash backs of reading the children’s book The Enormous Turnip with my daughter as I lifted out our rather smaller beetroot crop. We are learning more about where our food comes from and what kind of resources are required for growing it, including the right mix of healthy soil and compost, shade, direct sunlight, water and also human resilience. Heatwaves totalled our herb garden but the veggies survived. We are attracting more pollinators, planting Mediterranean plants and hardy perennials such as lavender, adapting our garden for the future.

Most plants have a purpose here, whether to be eaten or provide habitat or food for nature and attract free ecosystem services. We are learning about key concepts such as yield, abundance, diversity, caring for plants, and nature’s seasons and systems. We are learning how micro-climates and extreme weather events affect specific plants in different parts of our garden including the impact on yield. After years of hopping between rental properties growing tomatoes and peppers on windowsills, we can now increase the amount we do. Those small veggies were delicious and abundant to us and kept the dream alive.

Winter and Spring will be busy as we plant fruit and hazel trees to provide shade in hot months and act as wind breaks for extreme wind and rainfall events in the winter. We will install rain butts to capture abundant rain for the garden. If I get my way we will put up house martin nest boxes to encourage these tiny aphid eaters to come and do us a solid. Really – it is never too late to use what you have, adapt and learn as you go, and get started.

Rufus Logan

Having moved house recently to Auchterarder with one electric vehicle (EV) and a collection of bikes being our mode of transport, we felt it important to have an EV charging point installed at home. The town is well served by public EV charging points, but they are often occupied as EV is now becoming common place being just off a main route north. Also, too frequently public chargers are not working, which is the only issue we’ve found in 5 years of EV ownership.

All-in-all the added convenience of charging at home makes the £800 to £1,000 cost worthwhile. Having just moved in I don’t intend to move again, at least for a few years! There are several supply options and the company we chose fitted the 7Kw charger within two weeks of ordering.

The charger is controlled remotely via an App that allows charging scheduling and monitoring, which will be especially useful when/if off-peak electricity returns.

Some chargers can connect to home PV power. As the car is away from home most weekdays on the
100-mile commute we wouldn’t be drawing from the solar panels when the sun was up.

My ‘new second-hand’ folding bike is also in response to moving. I will either leave it at my local station for the day, or I can carry it on the train and then ride to a college or university campus from the nearest train station.

Whilst I’ve always enjoyed cycling, a previous boss set me a cycling challenge as part of my PDR, which, along with a ‘Cycle to Work’ scheme bike got me into commuting by bike whenever my work pattern allowed. This has led to regular bike rides and cycling holidays around Scotland, Denmark, and this summer the SW coast of Sweden.

Alison Malcolm

How do we minimise our carbon footprint and help the environment?

In the garden:

  • We grow our own fruit and veg – this year rhubarb, carrots, potatoes, garlic, beans, kale, strawberries, courgettes, raspberries, gooseberries lots of herbs and fennel. We’re planning to build a raised bed on the front lawn in spring for more crops.
  • We encourage wildlife in the garden – don’t use pesticides or herbicides, don’t mow the lawn more than 2-3 times a year, encourage pollinating insects with diverse year-round flowering plants, installed a basic pond, provide food and water for wildlife and leave plenty of ‘wild’ areas for invertebrates to thrive. We have newts, frogs, hedgehogs, foxes, squirrels and a huge variety of birds visiting the garden.
  • We installed a water butt – bought for £20 attached it to a downpipe, it provides free water for the garden pots. Why should we minimise water use in Scotland? Scottish Water are one of the largest electricity consumers in Scotland. They require 442 Gigawatt hours (GWh) each year – enough to power nearly 140,000 homes. Minimising water wastage and tap water use on gardens is an important part of that.
  • Don’t use peat-based compost – it’s dreadful for the planet and there are loads of better alternatives. Caledonian Horticulture make and sell peat free compost from local brown garden bin waste which is fantastic quality.

In the house:

  • Installing solar PVs on our south facing roof – Home Energy Scotland 0% interest loan to install 12x PVs plus battery and inverter should generate up to 80% of our homes electricity requirements.
  • We don’t renew electrical/tech products unless they are unrepairable – mobile phones don’t need to be renewed annually.
  • We sold our car – we are now a one car household and try to minimise use where possible.
  • We use an Insulated hot water cylinder and turn down our thermostat – this was previously set at 23oC, and we’ve dropped it to 18oC.
  • Timer on the 8.5kw electric shower – especially for the kids!
  • We recycle as much as we can, we requested an extra-large recycling bin from the council which we easily fill and take non kerbside recyclables to the recycling centre or other drop off points.
  • Fitted thermal curtains and close them at dusk, this minimises heat loss through the windows.
  • Use the ‘Eco’ cycle on electrical appliances that have them, for the shower this is 50% less electricity, similar for other appliances.