Our Spread the Composting campaign is complete!
Birmingham Botanical Gardens are delighted to announce our Spread the Composting campaign is complete and our new composting facilities are fully operational!
On behalf of all at Birmingham Botanical Gardens we wish to thank everyone for their generous support. Delivering the Composting Project has been critical to preserving and growing the Gardens for future generations – it now provides a sustainable composting system enhancing our environmental and financial sustainability. Thank you.
The Need for a Replacement Composting Facility
Since opening to the public in 1832, BBG has needed to fertilize the soil to maintain healthy plants. Today, the use of compost leads to a multitude of benefits such as saving water by helping soil hold moisture; adding nutrients to soil to help plant growth, encouraging healthy root structure; balancing soil pH (acidity); and preventing erosion. We use compost as a surface covering to hold moisture and suppress weeds, reducing the time taken for time-consuming maintenance tasks of watering and weeding, while helping our varied collection of plants to thrive. Our 60-year-old composting structure had collapsed and was no longer fit for purpose. The base of the heap had become permeable, allowing toxic leachates to permeate the base and potentially enter the nearby Chad Brook. The lack of a composting system at the Gardens was having a significantly detrimental impact on plant biodiversity and local environment. It also created the additional costs of disposing of green waste in other ways, hiring additional staff to weed and water, and having to purchase compost.
The New Composting Facility
The Composting Project has meant that a new purpose-designed facility has been constructed in the nursery area of the site at the Botanical Gardens, adjacent to the primary horticultural working area. The final cost of the project was £101,000. We were able to meet the additional cost, required to address the technical complexity of the leachate pumping system, from our successful fundraising. The large composting structures have been treated to protect and seal the construction from the effects of the elements and have been designed for vehicular tractor use. The project construction and build were undertaken by Reynolds Conservation Limited – a conservation and restoration company based in Ludlow, Shropshire with a wealth of experience. The project was managed with assistance from Conservation Architects, Donald Insall Associates, an award-winning architectural practice, and historic buildings consultancy, based in Birmingham.
The compost bays will allow Birmingham Botanical Gardens to responsibly manage its green-waste with a small team working hard to maintain this 15-acre Grade II* listed landscape. The compost will be used on site to mulch the herbaceous borders and the Compost leachate will be collected in a leachate tank and, pending testing, hoped to be used to replace other plant feeds. Plant feeds are often manufactured from fossil fuels, so this will ensure we are reducing our carbon footprint as well as safeguarding the watercourses around the Gardens from Compost leachates. The Composting now allows us to: feed and nurture our soil in the context of topsoil loss; sequester carbon; sequester nutrients; supress weeds; aid moisture retention to reduce irrigation; reduce leaching across the site; provide compost for the Glasshouses; reduce carbon footprint shipping mulch in and feed production; and feed the soil microfauna – beneficial soil critters for plant and tree health. One of the key features of the facility is the inbuilt underground storage leachate tank with electronic pumping system.
Thank you to our Funders and Supporters
We are immensely grateful for the major grant from Veolia Environmental Trust, via the Landfill Communities Trust without whom we could not have delivered the project so successfully. We are also very grateful for major donations from The Banister Trust, Roger & Douglas Turner Trust, 29th May 1961 Charity, Loppylugs & Barbara Morrison Trust, Open Gate Trust, HDH Wills Wildlife Trust and the CB & HH Taylor Trust. In addition, we wish to acknowledge our very special thanks to all those individuals and members of BBG who made personal donations to the project. These donations have made a real difference and without the support of individuals we could not have claimed the Veolia grant. We are grateful to the generosity of all our funders, members and individual supporters who have made this fantastic project possible. As a registered and independent charity, Birmingham Botanical Gardens, receives no regular public funding.
‘I am absolutely delighted with our new Compost Bays, the production of compost in house and the prospect of capturing and using the leachate as a feed is an exciting step forward towards our ambitious waste management and sustainability strategies.’ Emily Hazell, Director of Horticulture & Curation.
With the success of our new composting facilities, we’re now looking to grow our Tree Appeal to transform BBG’s tree care, health, and maintenance programme to protect, save and maintain happy, healthier trees at the Gardens throughout the seasons.
With your help, we can provide strength for climate resilient trees and continue to add to the tree canopy in Birmingham. You can find out more about how you can get involved and support the Gardens here. Thank you.