After nearly 5 years of planning and preparation and several hundred man hours, Fletching Glasshouses are delighted to be entering the final stages of their new rainwater harvesting project. The planning began back in 2006 shortly after Plants4Presents moved their mail order business to the nursery just outside Newick. Since then the family team have successfully developed the site for organic vegetable production alongside the mail order gift business. Fletching glasshouses salad packs and fresh organic produce are well known in the local area and the nursery supplies farmshops, restaurants and delis across East Sussex, including Infinity foods in Brighton, Sussex Produce in Steyning, Middle Farm, Plaw Hatch Farm and many more. As the site has developed, the water consumption has increased dramatically and the glasshouses now uses a staggering 5500 cubic metres of mains water a year! With pressure on water supplies in the South East growing it is an obvious solution to harvest the rainfall from the 2 acres of green house roofs.
With the help of an environmental development grant from SEEDA, the completely new system of pipes, drainage channels, pumps, filters and an 800m3 reservoir is nearly finished. Due to the seasonal nature of both the nursery usage and the natural rainfall the reservoir won’t completely free the business from mains water but it will have a dramatic impact on water usage. Isobel Rae, Director and Project Leader is delighted at the way the project has gone “As always there are a few minor hiccups in a project this size, but we are always thinking of the long term. By making use of the water run off from the greenhouses to water our crops we expect to reduce our mains usage by over half”.
Not only is this kind of rainwater recycling much more environmentally friendly and sustainable but the nursery also expects to see significant benefits from the switch away from treated water. Rainwater is less chlorinated than mains water and the lower levels of salts and calcium help plants absorb nutrients better and grow stronger and more resilient to pest attack. Other nurseries that have already implemented rainwater harvesting (including Lowaters near Southampton) are already reporting these benefits and across the industry there is a growing move towards this kind of water harvesting.
Now the bulk of the work has been done all that remains is to landscape the banks, plant the reed bed and cross the fingers for some rain!
Here’s a couple of photos of the reservoir complex as it is today. After 6 weeks of no rain we had half an inch which was enough to put 6 feet of water into the top pool. We need more to start filling the abstraction pool.
Fletching Glasshouses nursery is home to Fletching Glasshouses Organic Produce and Plants4Presents.co.uk (online plant gifts). The nursery is soil association certified and run to organic principles by the Rae family with the help of a dedicated team of local employees. To celebrate the completion of this project, Fletching Glasshouses will be hosting an open day on the 3rd June with an opportunity to meet local producers and retailers in an informal setting. This is a great opportunity to see behind the scenes at this working nursery and there will be tours of the nursery and reservoir at 2 and 4pm with entertainment and refreshments provided into the evening.
For more information on the new reservoir or for an invitation to the reservoir launch on the 3rd June please contact Emily Rae on 01825 721162