Rhubarb Farm is an environmental social enterprise, based in Langwith, on the Derbyshire/Nottinghamshire border and ETC Project Officer Tony Gospel first met with Jennie from Rhubarb Farm in October 2010. They had just acquired their land and came to us for advice on how to manage their proposed site, which was overgrown with rampant vegetation.
The farm planned to grow and sell fresh organic produce to the community with the help of the unemployed, people with learning disabilities, people with mental and physical ill health, ex service personnel, and ex-offenders. This model is known as therapeutic organic horticulture for developing skills, confidence and employability, and for improving health and well-being.
At the start of the project we simply offered advice on the best form of environmentally friendly heating for the on-site office. From that first meeting a relationship has developed, with the ETC providing ongoing support to this worthwhile project. We provided advice and help with the proposed installation of a composting toilet on site and then, most recently have helped the farm to transform their onsite office from the original ugly steel shipping container into what appears to be a rustic log cabin. This is being achieved by insulating the office externally and then cladding it in wood to protect and increase the efficiency of the insulation. This will improve the working environment for all seasons.
Using our building services skills we did some calculations on the heating and cooling requirements of the shipping container administration space. Without insulation the annual heating requirement is 18391 kWh, with the insulation in place this will be almost halved to 9944kWh. This will be improved with the addition of natural larch cladding. Initially we hoped to insulate with a natural product such as sheep’s wool, however this can generate significant amounts of condensation and it was decided to use 80mm Rockwool with a 4mm Permarock render.
The farm is now well established and the 8 acre site has a café, vegetable beds and poly tunnels. Regular lively and well attended events help to include and involve the local community.
In the longer term, as funding becomes available, Rhubarb Farm intend to harvest water from the roofs of both containers , install solar panels and maybe even a wind turbine. All this will help them in their aims to have as low an impact on the environment as possible.
As the project grows they will start to cultivate a larger part of the farm, this will be on a commercial basis but still with organic methods and will eventually lead to the introduction of a Vegetable Box Service under the Community Supported Agriculture Scheme (CSA) in 2012, which will supply boxes of fresh vegetables to people within a 10 mile radius.
The Environmental Technology Centre hope to continue to work with Rhubarb Farm into the future.