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Sustainable Shakespeare - Saving Water and Developing Habitats at Mary Arden’s Farm

Find out more about how we're saving water at Mary Arden's Farm in this latest blog from our Farm Manager Isabelle Butterworth

Isabelle Butterworth

It is estimated that the UK uses 14 billion litres of water per day with about 90% of that being used in agriculture to produce the food we eat. The amount of water we require to function as a country is increasing all the time and it is estimated by 2050 the UK will need around 3.6 billion extra litres a day. A very small amount of water usage is in the home but the hidden water usage (for the production of your food) is equivalent to showering around 44 times per day.

So, what are we doing at Mary Arden’s Farm to reduce our water usage and wastage?

  • Collecting: During the summer months animals require extra water so that they don’t become dehydrated in the warmer temperatures. Wherever possible we use buckets and barrels to collect rain water. Some of our animals, such as the goats, seem to prefer the taste of rain water to that of tap water. This could be because it doesn't have any of the additives that we tend to find in our tap water, so probably tastes very different. Whatever the reason, it helps us save using some water from the tap.
  • Reusing: We reuse our water wherever possible. For example, water that has been used to wash animal feeding bowls is reused on our allotment, reducing the amount of tap water required for watering.
  • Automatic water systems: We have invested in automatic water troughs through all of outer fields. These reduce the possibility of spillages from transporting water around the farm while ensuring that animals always have access to water.

Developing habitats

You might have heard of an idea called 'No Mow May', where people are encouraged to let their lawns and other areas of grass areas grow in order to increase plant growth and support pollinators. Here at the Farm we have expanded on this idea and created dedicated wildlife areas around the site. These areas will not be mowed, in order to create a series of more biodiverse habitats.

MAF Grass Snake.jpg

Leaving the grass areas to grow provides the opportunity for a range of different plant species to grow which, in turn, attracts a range of pollinators. We currently have three bee hives and various wild bumble bee species on our site (see our upcoming article about bees on site for more information). We have also seen a number of butterflies visiting our ‘No Mow’ areas.

And it isn’t just pollinators we are attracting. These safe wildlife areas also encourage a range of other insects which are a vital food source for the hedgehogs we know live on our sites. Just this week, we discovered a grass snake nest with three juvenile grass snakes living in it. The long foliage is also providing safe covering for field mice and other small animals to move around.

We have also begun providing water in these areas, for creatures such as hedgehogs and other small mammals to drink from. These spots also provide safe areas for bees to drink. Bees can often fall into a trough or bucket while trying to drink. To help our bees access the water they need, we have created shallow safe drinking areas with plenty of stones, which the bees can stand on so they avoid falling into the water and drowning.

To find out more about our work to become net zero in our carbon emissions by 2030 visit our Sustainable Shakespeare page.