Sustainable Marlborough – July 2023: pruning and website help

Sustainable Marlborough organises events and socials, shares resources and runs carbon-literacy training. It can also connect you with other local sustainability groups and useful organisations. You can find more information by scrolling through the tabs at the top of the website.

Below is a summary of the key theme/s with which Sustainable Marlborough has been involved over the last month or so. It does not necessarily describe all of the group’s activities in this period – see the website for more.

July 2023 – community pruning and website help needed

Transition Marlborough (TM) and Marlborough Community Orchard (MCO)  invite you to the upcoming pruning events at the community orchard sites. We have two events planned. The first will take place on the 15th of July starting at the Diamond Jubilee Plantation, on the common, just below the rugby club, moving on to Roger’s Meadow. The second will take place on the 29th of July starting in Wye House Garden, then moving on to the trees in Waitrose car park as well as those in Priory Gardens, St Mary’s and St Peter’s churchyards. We intend to see to the pruning of the stone fruit such as damsons and plums as well as removing any excess fruit from the apple trees and tidying any excess growth. We will also carry out some weeding and give the trees some TLC if there is time.

Both events will start at 0930 and we hope to finish by around 1230.You can join us for as long as you are able, all help is much appreciated. If you are unable to attend at the start you are most welcome to call Philippa Davenport on 07963 313 822 to find out where we are.

It would be good to see you at either or both events. No experience is necessary as we will have a professional gardener with us who can help those who wish to learn about summer pruning and fruit thinning. If you do attend and you have them, can you please bring secateurs, loppers and/or long handled pruners, a trowel or small fork as well as a kneeler would be useful for weeding around the base of the trees.


Please get in touch (see above) if you are interested in taking over the management of the Sustainable Marlborough website, running socials or organising events.

A look back at March 2023 – biochar and carbon tax

It was lovely to have so many people and some new faces at the Sustainable Marlborough Sustainable Social in March. Luke, a local sustainable charcoal producer who currently holds a Nuffield Farming Scholarship, gave a very interesting presentation on biochar, how it’s made and what you can use it for. His scholarship is taking him around the world to learn more about how biochar is being used so that he can bring ideas back to the UK. We loved that Luke is offsetting all of the carbon from his travels using biochar.

So, biochar is really very small pieces of charcoal: but it doesn’t have to be made from wood. Any biological matter can be made into charcoal including garden waste, animal bones and sewage sludge, but the carbon content will vary from 30-90%. 1g of biochar has a surface area of 300m2, so it’s incredibly porous and absorbs nutrients and toxins. Biochar has been found in 2,500-year-old Amazonian soil and certainly added to the fertility of the earth. Find out more here.

We learned about the many and varied uses of biochar, from adding it to animal feed to reduce methane, absorbing ammonia from manures, remediating soil pollution, water and air filtration, adding to tarmac to sequester carbon and strengthening concrete. The really great thing that we learned though, was that biochar can be added to compost bins to supercharge your compost and reduce the methane. By mixing the biochar with food waste (or manure), you charge it with nutrients. This is important as you don’t want the biochar absorbing the nutrients from your soil. The result is a lovely dark compost that retains water and nutrients.

After Luke’s presentation there were lots of questions and we discussed how biochar can be used for tree planting and could potentially be brilliant in Rain Garden planters to help slow the flow of rainwater and filter it at the same time, so great for local projects.

Judy also told us about Citizen Climate Lobby’s local meetings for the global movement pushing for a carbon tax and dividend. Meetings on 19 April, 17 May and 21 June. Email to find out more.

Slate Hill Charcoal’s biochar is a by product of their charcoal production for which they use a charcoal retort, which is really clean burning and recaptures most of the gases produced. The slow pyrolosis takes six to eight hours. Luke and Helen source all of their wood locally where trees have been cut back or felled through responsible woodland management, so the carbon footprint of transportation is kept to a minimum. They’re always happy to receive visitors, so if you’d like to go and see Luke and Helen making their charcoal in Baydon, email

A look back at February 2023 – everyday activism

If you jumped into a time machine and whizzed off to 2030, how would you like the world around you to look upon disembarking? What would have changed? How can we achieve our collective vision of a better world? We all have great power to shape our local communities and the wider world through our everyday choices – where we spend and invest our money, how we vote, what conversations that we have, what questions that we ask nd how we treat our environment and other people.

This month’s social was all about the actions that we can and do take every day, which play a part in shaping the world. Everyday activism can include things like protests, campaigning and emailing your MP, but also choosing active travel over driving, consuming less (stuff and energy), switching your bank account, reducing single use plastics, encouraging children to be creative and connect with nature, having climate conversations, planting trees and wildflowers, boycotting companies which don’t meet our values, eating less meat and dairy, starting a sustainable blog…it’s a long list, but one hopefully with something for everyone’s circumstances and attitudes to engage with.

We shared some of the things that we already do in our everyday activism: and it turned out, we are already doing loads of great stuff. Getting the bus instead of driving, learning more about climate change, always having a reusable cup to hand, sharing veggie recipes with others, donating to environmental and social justice organisations, writing to companies, signing petitions and reducing energy consumption were just some of the actions that came up.

There can be a lot of doomism around climate change and environmental destruction. However, one person really can make a difference, like Ella Daish and her End Period Plastic campaign. There are millions of people doing great things every day – so wield the Power of You and your Everyday Activism!

Need help or inspiration?

A look back at January 2023 – a carbon-saving spree

Sustainable Marlborough’s social this month was all about its 2023 challenge, a ‘carbon-saving Spree for 2023’. Anyone can take part (you don’t need to live in Marlborough) and it doesn’t cost a penny, in fact, it could well save you money. All you have to do is pledge to make a small change for a couple of months on Sustainable Marlborough’s Do Nation page.

So what’s Do Nation? It’s a brilliant online platform helping people to change habits and behaviours to reduce CO2. Their pledge platform is powered off three fundamental beliefs:

  • First, that small sustainable lifestyle changes don’t just cut carbon, they lead to happier, healthier, more productive lives – at home, at work and everywhere in between.
  • Second, that even though it doesn’t always feel like it – small actions really do add up. And we’re not just talking about tonnes of carbon! When lots of us commit to taking action for the environment it sends a powerful message to businesses, government and other decision makers about our collective commitment to change.
  • And third, that given the right conditions people can change. For the better, and for good.

Pledges are collected and once completed the carbon savings are logged and added together. People’s individual pledges on their platform alone are currently saving a whopping 16,360,837kg of CO2 per year – that’s 272,681 flights from London to Paris!

When you’re plugging away on your own, it can often feel hopeless. Does your washing clothes at a lower temperature or eating a bit less meat and dairy really make any difference to the huge global problem of solving climate change?

Well, YES! Do Nation is showing that together, we can and do make a difference. It’s encouraging and inspiring to see how our seemingly small efforts really do add up to something big and great. Research from The Jump and UK government shows that almost a third of the required savings in emissions need to come from individual behaviour changes – so we all have an important role to play. But where to start?

The idea of changing your lifestyle might seem daunting, overwhelming, irritating or at best inconvenient. This is where Do Nation is so good. The pledges offer inspiration as well as a clear idea of how much impact your action will have, enabling you to balance ease against impact. Each pledge is for two months, which helps with motivation as well as giving you a chance to try out changes to see what works for you.

As well as making your own pledges, you can ask friends and family to pledge as a gift to you or in lieu of monetary sponsorship for a personal challenge such as a 10k run that you may be completing. What a great way to increase your impact and start conversations about sustainability.

So, what do the pledges involve? There seems to be something for everyone – from educating yourself on climate change to large-scale projects like installing solar panels and almost everything in between. Every little helps.

We were all inspired to get pledging – what about you?


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