Heathfield Allotment Trust Stick Their Butts Out and Halve Their Water Bill!
05th November 2021
Lovingly known as the ‘million-dollar plots’ because of their view overlooking the Exe Estuary, the Heathfield Allotments have been bringing the community of Lympstone together since 1879.
But these allotments held a dark secret.
On an inspection of the site, trustees Mandy and Carrie came across something unexpected: strawberries - in October!
As delicious as they were, the strawberries brought with them a sinister message: climate change is happening and it’s leading to much hotter, much drier, summers.
During the warm and sunny lockdowns of 2020, a day at the allotments became many plot-holders’ “something to look forward to”. It was a rare chance to meet with friends and provided a much-needed mental boost. Those who had held a plot there for decades, like Bill, had never seen them so busy!
But that following autumn, the Heathfield Allotment Trustees’ water costs were at a record high. After investigating the use of water across the site, Carrie was shocked to find how much was being wasted. People were leaving hoses on, not watering efficiently, and using the tap more than was necessary. If this was to continue, the trustees would face the difficult decision of increasing the rent to cover the costs.
Convinced that something could change, Carrie and the other trustees began actively educating plot-holders about the importance of saving water. Policies were put in place to keep it at the forefront of their minds. One such rule made it a requirement for new sheds and greenhouses to be fitted with a water butt or other rainwater harvesting system. Leaving the hosepipe on and using sprinklers was strictly banned.
But it still wasn’t enough.
To make a true difference, Carrie needed to convince a vast majority of the 80 plot-holders to switch to water-saving methods. But, because of the cost, plot-holders were reluctant to invest.
That’s where we stepped in.
After applying to our Water Saving Community Fund for 25 water butts, we surprised them by sending 30.
“We were blown away and are very grateful!” said Mandy, the Trust’s treasurer.
Work began straight away. Plot-holders installed water butts on greenhouses, sheds, summer houses – anywhere where guttering could be fitted. Everyone pitched in, sharing pieces of spare guttering as well as patio slabs to place the butts on.
The results speak for themselves.
“I know of at least two plot-holders who have gone all summer without using the tap!” Carrie said, excitedly.
The plot-holder who installed the first water butt, successfully grew melons in her greenhouse this year. “Rainwater is so much better for the plants,” she explained.
Most important to Carrie, Mandy and the rest of the trustees is the effect the scheme has had on their water bill. The allotments only use their water supply between March and October to prevent any freezing. Since July, when the butts were installed, the water bill has practically halved from what it was last year. The team are hoping that next year, once they have had the water butts for an entire season, their savings will be even better.
“I think people were really surprised that South West Water was giving us supplies that would help reduce our bill,” Mandy said. “Not only has this had a massive impact on us financially, more importantly too on the environment. We need to be using natural resources with less wastage. It’s a win-win situation.”
The group is determined to continue innovating new ways of saving water, moving more and more towards only using rainwater to water the plots. The 30 water butts are only the start!
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Find out more about the Water Saving Community Fund, our top tips to save water, and our free water-saving goodies here.