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Wight Building Materials sow seeds for sustainable local produce

Jemma Brown (right) and Steve Burton with the restored field behind them
Jemma Brown (right) and Steve Burton with the restored field behind them

Sustainable quarrying project on the Isle of Wight reaches key milestone

A SUSTAINABLE land-management project involving Wight Building Materials and a new agricultural business on the Isle of Wight has reached a new phase.

A 30-acre field on the approach to Harvey Brown’s foodhall, butchery and café, has now been returned to nature, following the completion of phased quarrying and restoration. The area, which has benefitted from the return of previously stockpiled topsoils, is currently being left to regenerate before being used to grow produce for sale in the farm shop next year.

 

In the meantime, restoration will take place on an adjacent field and when this is complete, that too will be returned for agricultural use. This leaves one more field to be quarried before the site is complete.

It will mean that by the end of 2024, around 500,000 tonnes of sand and gravel will have been quarried from the Arreton Valley site in phases by Wight Building Materials. All aggregate extracted has been used for building materials on the Island, including the foundations and polished floor at Harvey Brown’s.

All quarried land has been, and will be, restored to the wishes of the Brown family who have been farming the area for generations and in line with the requirements of the associated planning permissions obtained before quarrying began.

‘It is great to have reached this milestone and we are looking forward to planting our first crops on the newly restored site,’ said Jemma Brown of Harvey Brown’s. ‘Recently we have had a lot of people ask what is going on with the field to the right of our entrance since the next phase of quarrying has begun there. We are happy to say that this work is all part of a sustainable approach to land management – sand and gravel will be extracted for local use and then the land restored back to agriculture.

‘We are pleased to be part of an ongoing project that has made optimum use of the land around us. Building materials have been excavated by a local company for local construction projects and then the land returned to us for sustainable uses. Growing produce on our own doorstep means there could not be fewer food miles between production and retail.’

One field worked earlier in the quarrying programme is now in use as a solar farm providing green energy. All quarrying on site has also been carried out under the supervision of archaeologists from the University of Southampton, who have been gaining a picture of the history of how the land was used in Roman times, as well as in the Bronze and Iron ages.

Steve Burton, general manager of Wight Building Materials, said: ‘It has been great to work with the Brown family on a project that has enabled us to extract sand and gravel for the local construction trade but in a way that has also helped a new local business to flourish in a sustainable way.’

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