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    Advent Day 14: 14 years of award-winning sustainability in food and farming

    14 December 2022



    Harper Adams has always placed sustainability at the heart of our work, as you’d expect – with our innovations gaining national attention.

    For instance, 24 years ago in 2008, our work in reducing food miles to food metres using our University Farm won us a Times Higher Education award for the Outstanding Contribution to Sustainable Development.

    The award was secured for the way our catering department works with our farm, grounds department and more to make the most of the fantastic British produce we grow and rear on-site – something which continues to the present day.

    Speaking at the time, the then Editor of Times Higher Education, Ann Mroz, said: “Harper Adams has shown real originality in counting food metres rather than food miles.

    “The laudable idea of contributing to sustainable development through their catering department demonstrates that innovative solutions to tackling carbon emissions in universities are not only being mooted by academics, they are appearing in management initiatives as well.”

    The award is one of a series of Times Higher awards the University has won – with accolades for Technological Innovation, Research Supervision, Estates Strategy work to reduce carbon emissions, and more in the past decade.

    Meanwhile, our work on sustainability hasn’t stopped there.

    Our goal is a net zero farm and campus. We aim to reach net zero for scope one and two emissions on our farm by 2030.

    We’re also working to build awareness and knowledge among farmers in the UK – and internationally – to tackle the challenges of Net Zero.

    Our inaugural Global Policy Forum – held this November – examined the issue with leading experts from industry and academia in front of an audience of figures across the food and faming sectors, as well as our Chancellor, Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal.

    Meanwhile our School of Sustainable Food and Farming is working to educate, inspire and empower current and future farmers to achieve Net Zero within a sustainable farming and food system – with the School’s Journey to Net Zero competition winners set to be announced in early January.

    We’re also aware that, as a University, it’s not only the large-scale changes we can help make which matter.

    Small yet universal changes can also help build sustainable change – and we’ve been making lots across campus!

    • We were awarded 100 native species trees to plant across the campus under the Trees for Telford Scheme in 2021. Our tree-rich campus provides the perfect home for our insect hotels which encourage biodiversity. 
    • We’re part of the Hedgehog friendly Campus scheme and achieved our bronze status in 2021. 
    • Water supplied across our campus come from our own bore holes – staff and students are encouraged to fill reusable cups or bottles from taps and fountains. 
    • Power and heating are generated via biomass, solar panels and distributed across the campus via an extensive underground system.  
    • Our researchers are working on making the food supply chain more sustainable – from reducing chemicals on crops to cutting emissions per gram of nutrition from livestock products or even discovering alternative food products. 
    • We’ve instituted cross-campus recycling, our SU are working to eradicate single-use plastic in its bar, and we’ve instituted a reusable cup scheme, all helping us to enjoy environmentally friendly meals and snacks.

    To see the latest on our cup scheme – and how it’s leading the field – take a look at today’s guest blog by AGRI Project Officer Melissa Sambrook, explaining how it stopped thousands of cups from going to landfill.



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