It is Earth Day and here at Tregothnan we are reflecting on the importance of the environment around us, both personally and as a business.
You may not know, but environmental protection is huge part of what we do here – it just underpins our day-to-day activity rather than being something we choose to shout about. Today however we thought we might give you an insight…
In addition to being a challenge, an experiment, and an extension to our National Camellia Collection, growing tea had a real environmental basis when we planted our first tea bushes back in 1999. Tea bushes once planted and established thrive for up to 500 years (or even longer in some cases). All this time they are sequestering CO2 (absorbing it through their leaves and locking it up in the soil) and at levels greater than open pasture or many farmed crops. They also provide soil stabilisation preventing the nutrient rich top and sub soils being washed away in the rain and clogging up the streams and rivers that run through the tea gardens.
Growing, harvesting, and processing the tea here in Cornwall also allows us to reduce the air miles of the tea we sell, and having solar panels on the roofs of our buildings allows us to process the tea with renewable electricity.
We strive every day to take waste out of our products and process and have exciting developments to share at the COP 26 meeting in November.
It is not just the tea here that benefits the environment, so much of our other activity and products do to. Our honey for example plays a very important part.
With nearly 60 hives located in key locations around the estate we are looking to protect and increase the number of pollinating insects in our corner of the country – for the benefit of gardeners, farmers, and wildlife wherever our hives are. We have ambitions for many more hives, building the numbers of bees and raising the profile of these amazing creatures through our courses and work with organisation like Bees for Development.
One of the amazing things we have noticed with our bees is how much they love the wild-flower carpets that grow in our Kea Plum and Apple orchards. Kea Plums themselves are a rare species protected by Tregothnan. These plums were originally from Portugal (brought over by the Portuguese Navy – mooring in the river Fal) but now only exist in the 20 acres of our orchards having been lost in the native country. This environment is just one at Tregothnan that our friends at the Cornwall Wildlife Trust help to monitor and protect.
The bees also adore another plant species we are happy to have cultivated at Tregothnan – the Manuka collection. Originally brought to the UK in 1880, Manuka has been thriving here in Cornwall ever since. There is something quite mesmerising about seeing a wall of Manuka trees in full bloom and alive with bees. We are so very lucky to have the responsibility to care for these trees and bees and be rewarded with Manuka Tea and Honey for our customers that does not have the air miles of coming from New Zealand.
This year the woods team have begun the fantastic project of creating a new 100-acre wood close to where our tea is growing. Taking 100 acres out of agricultural use and planting a mixed species woodland in honour of Lord Falmouth celebrating his 100th birthday in 2020.
This is in addition to the acres and acres of woodland planted every year as part of our management of ancient English woods and commercial tree operations.
The botanical team daily tend to thousands of species of plants, some of whom were thought to be extinct, or are on critical lists in their wild habitats.
Over its 700 years Tregothnan has always taken very seriously its role as a steward of the natural wonder we are fortunate to be surrounded by, with the aim of each generation leaving a better environment and a legacy to be proud of.
This is just a little snapshot of what we do every day to protect and celebrate our environment and some of the unique microclimates and species that exist on the estate.
The whole team wish you all the best on Earth Day and hope that you will join us in getting out and relishing the wonderful and precious environment around us.
Whether it is creating new habitats in Kent alongside vineyards or protecting ancient heathland of the Lizard, Tregothnan is an active supporter of many successful initiatives to protect and enhance environments from Cornwall to Kent and beyond. Most of the Tregothnan nature reserves, including on the Lizard and Goss Moor, are made accessible to visitors in collaboration with environmental organisations and charities. Some of the most sensitive sites that have also received additional protection from AOND and SSSI designations.
We are off for a walk in the woods, where we might even spot the first wild beaver to have set up home in England in over 400 years!
Please do not disturb wildlife and nesting birds at this particularly sensitive time of year.
If you wish to join a tour of the ancient orchards, tea, bees or botanical collection please click here.
To find out more about volunteering at Tregothnan click here