Folly Farm: Bringing the Wild into Work!

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Research suggest that over 131 million days are lost each year to stress, costing UK employers £1.24 billion (Office of National Statistics 2013). Fortunately, spending just five minutes in nature has been proven to improve wellbeing (Environmental Science and Technology journal, 2010).

On the 7th May, our Go Green Happy & Healthy event brought delegates together for a  sunny half day at Folly Farm to explore the eco-features of the site and how corporate volunteering in nature supports wellbeing in the workplace.

Andrew Lund Yates, Centre Director at Folly Farm Centre started the morning’s activities by taking us on a sustainability tour

The first stop was the 7kw Solar Panels which reduce their energy bills. Folly Farm also use Ecotricity as their supplier, supporting renewable energy.

Next we crowded into the boiler room to check out Folly Farms pellet boiler. This is fired up year round and provides heat and hot water to Folly Farm. The pellets cost around £200 per tonne and are imported from Portugal. This led to a lively discussion on the pros and cons of pellet boilers versus woodchip.

One delegate discussed new developments using a combination of coffee grounds, waste wood (such as old furniture) and other food wastes that avoids the costs (both monetary and environmental) of importing processed wood pellets from abroad.

Next we stopped at the wellbeing garden which is a beautiful combination of herbs, vegetables, flowers, plants and shelters. The garden is cared for by a range of disadvantaged groups and provides food for the kitchen to create fantastic local dishes with mini food miles for Folly Farm guests.

We wondered over to the Folly Farm reception to hear about the rainwater harvesting system. The gutters lead to an old water tank below the house and this water is used for the toilet flushing systems. The site is also home to swallow nests and around 30 species of bats including some rare types.

The group also checked out the Zero Carbon Electric charging points which are free of charge for anyone passing by!

The last stop on our sustainability tour was the reed and willow bed waste water management system. These clever plants oxgenate the waste water through various stages until it is clean enough to run into the stream. The willow is also harvested to make fences, structures and dens for the children who visit Folly Farm.

After our sunny sustainability tour, we headed back to the Oak Room for an inspiring talk on My Wild City and the value of using nature to improve workplace wellbeing.

Julie Doherty, Community Engagement and Volunteering Manager at Avon Wildlife Trust, talked to us about her work to create ecological networks on a landscape scale and inspire people and communities to care about nature.

30 Days Wild

One way the Avon Wildlife Trust is doing this is through the 30 days wild campaign – A challenge that is completely free and can be done individually or by your organisation.

Avon Wildlife trust are challenging people to do random acts of wildness throughout the month of June. You can sign up online to get your free pack and share progress through social media to be part of a wider national movement. The challenge is also part of Business Green Week during the 11th – 19th June. 

Networking in Nature – Feed Bristol

If you missed out on this event come along to join us at Feed Bristol where Avon Wildlife Trust are providing Go Green members an opportunity for Networking in Nature on the 10th August. This will be a chance to make new business contacts in an inspiring environment and spend time in nature. The price is £35 per person, including freshly picked, locally sourced, organic lunch, booking available soon!

Our final presentation from Fiona Nicol Business Project Manager at Burges Salmon LLP, focused on My Wild Street: A successful and meaningful collaboration between Burges Salmon and Avon Wildlife Trust. It was great to hear about the benefits to their organisation and the impact of the project for those involved.

The project provided a plethora of community & environmental benefits to an inner city street where 31 households took part.

Over 580 plants were planted and residents built relationships with Burges Salmon employees to create bug hotels, flower beds + more! Since the project residents have planned a social media project to celebrate and monitor the improved environment.

We then headed to the Old Dairy for a yummy seasonal lunch with ingredients from the Folly Farm garden.

Feeling full of inspiration on the huge benefits of bringing the Wild into Work the delegates headed back out into the sunshine for a wellbeing walk on how to deal with stress management at work.

We learnt about the benefits of taking 5 minutes of quiet time to sit and reflect in nature, and the positive health benefits of walking in nature during your working day.

To access all of the presentations please follow the links below:

Fiona Nicol – Burges Salmon

Julie Doherty – Avon Wildlife Trust