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The Castle Environmental Awards began in 2009. When the government reduced the VAT rate, we ring-fenced the additional £29,000 profit from our visit and membership fees into a special fund. Castle staff and customers were invited to apply for up to £6000 for each project that would promote sustainability in some way . The winning projects included: a new office for Magnificent Revolution built out of a retired shipping container, an internship with Greenpeace (which resulted in the candidate getting a full-time job), solar panels for an organic farm in India, supplies and training for beekeeping in North Wales, an information sign for Growing Communities and funding for a community health post in Ghap, Nepal.
Inspired by Patagonia's employee grant scheme, we decided to set up our own Castle Staff Eco-grant Scheme. Castle staff may apply for up to £1200 stipend to fund them while they work on an environmental project. Applications are judged by a panel of peers and we give out up to 4 grants each year.
Aoife O Sullivan - working on a seaweed farm on the South West coast of Ireland
Aoife says: "The seaweed cultivated at the farm consists of two species of kelp: Alaria esculenta for food (human and animal) and cosmeceuticals, and Saccharina latissima for food (human and animal) and bioplastics. We will be going out on a boat to harvest the lines of seaweed and monitoring environmental parameters such as seawater temperature, underwater irradiance, seawater nutrient concentrations and turbidity. With the world’s population expected to grow from 7.7 billion in 2019 to an expected 9.7 billion by 2050, the world’s food requirements are changing. Seaweeds are an underutilised resource that benefit both the environment and humans. There are many advantages of seaweed farming, such as no need for fresh water, no need for land and high amount of carbons and lipids. They also provide many ecosystem services such as nutrient uptake, habitat refuge, nursery grounds for marine animals, CO2 sequestration and water oxygenation. This will be great experience for me as one day I want to set up a seaweed farm!"
Nuala Gathercole Lam - Volunteering for Extinction Rebellion campaign
Nuala says: "The Eco Grant allowed me to volunteer full-time for the Extinction Rebellion (XR) media team in April. I've carried on as a full time volunteer on the media team since then, managing through a combination of volunteer living expenses from XR and the very generous flexibility of the Kitchen team who have made it possible for me to keep my job at the Castle whilst taking on a very demanding role in XR. Being part of XR has been the most fun, challenging, terrifying and profound experience in my life so far – that's not an overstatement."
Aron Tarjani - Volunteering as a climbing instructor for underpriviledged youth in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
A one month voluntary role, making climbing (both indoors and outdoors) more accessible to underpriviledged youth in Rio, helping them to learn self-confidence and the environmental awareness many climbers take for granted.
Isabel Cardenas - Lighthouse Evironmental Program Lesbos, Greece
Volunteering to clean up the island of Lesbos, which has suffered badly due to pollution following an influx of refugees and NGOs on the island. Using her abseil and rope access aid training, Isabel was able to join a small skilled tam who were able to access the cliffs and remote areas affected.
James Turner – Feedback, Gleaning Network campaign. UK & France.
Volunteer position at Gleaning Network, liaising with farmers in order to collect surplus food from farms and redistribute to charities.
Christina Baldwin – photography personal project, UK.
Christina proposed to research and document the water supply chain within UK context, producing ‘Action postcards’ that will aim to increase the understanding of the impact individuals & communities have upon their water consumption.
Miriam Willis - Raleigh International, Tanzania.
A placement as Environmental Project Manager in Tanzania, for Raleigh, an organization with emphasis on renewable resources and sustainable solutions in rural areas. Miriam worked closely with local communities to build elephant deterring fences that protected the farmers land from the migration route of the National Parks elephants, as well as coordinating the introduction of rocket stoves into communities.
Kerry Simmonds – Ecodgarma Centre and Beneficio Community, Spain.
Kerry took up a volunteer placement at a sustainable education centre expanding their permaculture designed gardens as well as infrastructure, followed by a second placement at an eco-village, volunteering and assisting in building a straw-bale school.
Edd Colbert – Feedback, U.K.
Ed worked in a volunteer role as Campaign Manager for Feedback; an environmental charity campaigning against food waste.
Ida Fabrizio – The Olive Branch, Spain.
Spending the winter at a climber’s accommodation in El Chorro, South of Spain, Ida established a low impact, organic, commercial garden to provide food for the accommodation and for sale to visitors. The aim was to set up a growing system that would reduce food waste and that could be maintained by local growers using low impact practices. Ida made links with local producers, instructing them in low impact growing practices and coordinating the use of local olive oil to make and sell products.
Rosa Gonzalez – Article 25, U.K.
A placement working as an Architect for an NGO (Article 25) team of construction professionals designing schools using sustainable techniques for construction in earthquake affected sites in Haiti.
Jack Pardoe and Zoltan Majoros - Castle 2 Castle
Cycling 1200 miles from London to Budapest to examine whether cycling as a means of long distance travel is really feasible in modern Europe and, if so, how easily and comfortably can it be done. They aim to demonstrate the physical, mental, cultural and environmental benefits of green & sustainable travel over other travel forms.
Jack Cox – Organic Lea Co-operative, U.K.
A placement working with Organic Lea food growers co-operative in Chingford creating and developing productive growing sites for edible funghi.
Johanna Wadsley – Hugging the Coast, New Zeland.
A post-doctoral social science expedition (by sea-kayak) to observe, document and publicise the impact of industrial demand for seaweed (used in health food & pharmaceuticals production) on the marine environment and socio-economic conditions of the Sangihe Archipelago, Indonesia.
Nick Quinn – North Down Orchard, U.K.
WOOF’ing at North Down Orchard (Basingstoke) to learn key aspects of winter organic growing for large scale organic ‘box scheme’ fruit & vegetable production.
Miriam Willis – Hillyfield Farm Development
A placement offering administrative restructuring and support in fundraising and volunteer resourcing for a forest conservation site on the southern edge of Dartmoor.
Caroline Talbot – Green Alliance
An internship with an environmental think tank dedicated to ensuring that UK political leaders deliver ambitious solutions to global environmental issues.
You can read more about our successful applicants in our sustainability blog.