UK: Innovation Award winner announced
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The Soil Association has announced that the Bee Brick, an aesthetic home for bees that doubles as a revolutionary building material, has won the public vote of their Innovation Award. The award focuses on innovation in farming and growing that benefits the environment, health or animal welfare. Delegates at the Soil Association‘s Annual Conference had shortlisted three ideas to vote on.
The manufacturer of the Bee Brick, Green & Blue, will be given £1,000 to help fund its future work with the brick. The Bee Brick is available in three different sizes and makes the perfect gift for gardeners and bee lovers, as well as a great investment for building technicians. It has been developed to provide a nesting site to support the declining solitary bee population and is designed to be an integral part of new build projects. It sits alongside current green systems such as solar panels and rainwater harvesting, with the dual function of being a construction material that also promotes biodiversity. The Bee Brick was praised by delegates for its innovative approach in linking urban environments with conservation and farming. More information is available here.
A further innovative idea was the Cycling Veg, a bicycle delivery service which supplies British organic produce within the urban environment. A small food enterprise with big ambition, the service is run by students and offers job opportunities to young people while also benefiting elderly and disabled people who are less able to access farmers markets or veg box pick up points. By using recycling crates from restaurants, wholesalers and market, the initiative is virtually packaging-free. Delegates voted for Cycling Veg because of its synergy with other initiatives such as farmers markets, its potential to create employment opportunities and its ability to be replicated in many urban areas - taking the veg box delivery service to the next level.
The Farm Crap App was also suggested, developed by the SWARM Knowledge Hub in collaboration with Rothamsted Research North Wyke. It was designed to raise awareness amongst farmers and growers about the nutritive and economic value of organic manures and slurries. The app provides farmers with an opportunity to visually assess manure and slurry application rates and to calculate what is being provided in terms of available nutrients, as well as giving an estimate of potential savings. More information is available from the Soil Association.