A horticultural project in Salford has been using peat-free compost to grow their newest produce, citing the environmental damage that results from peat cutting. 

IncrEdible Education, which delivers a range of horticultural activities for Salford residents, is now using peat-free compost from a North West supplier.

Ian Bocock, the director and horticulture educational lead at IncrEdible Education, said: “From an environmental point of view we wanted to move away from composts that use peat as there is only a finite amount of it left and also it is beneficial in lots of ways.

“It benefits the bio systems and benefits us all as it’s a natural resource so we just wanted to move away from using peat-based products.

“Unfortunately peat-based composts are some of the best, especially in seed germination. So we’ve been looking for a product to be viable to use because we do a lot of growing of young plants which are then used a part of our work in IncrEdible Education and IncrEdible Salford.”

The new provider, Dalefoot Composts, is a Soil Association approved supplier of peat free and organic compost. Situated in the Lake District, the company uses sheep’s wool from local farmers and bracken to create their composts.

Ian came across Dalefoot Composts when he was researching for a more sustainable and environmentally friendly alternative to the composts they were using previously.

IncrEdible Education is using the new composts in many of their projects, including educating younger people on the peat-free alternatives.

“We work with a lot of students that do qualifications so they’re using it within their qualification and they learn how to sow seeds. We also go out and plant these things called plant locks so we use the general purpose compost in those containers as well.

“So far it’s proved to be a good resource. However it has to be said it’s not as cheap as some composts, but you have to weigh up the environmental cost.”

On top of using the products themselves, IncrEdible Education is now stocking the peat-free alternatives and is one of only two suppliers in the Manchester area to do so. They hope that by setting this example, other people will follow in their footsteps and start using peat-free composts too.

“It means we are not in a position where people can challenge us on not being environmentally friendly. That is part of our role really – educating people about how we protect the environment.

“I’m sure there are quite a lot of people that don’t do it deliberately but are just ignorant. When they go and buy a bag of compost they may not even consider what is in it, they just want a bag of compost.

“By us using these products we hope to, by emphasizing on our social media and elsewhere that it is peat free, change people’s lifestyles so people think ‘hold on a minute, the compost that I bought, does it have peat in it?’

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