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Is Southwick allotment Britain's first to run on solar power?
Could this be Britain’s first solar-powered allotment?
The site, in Manor Hall Road, Southwick, is made up of four allotments and owned by 66-year-old Mark Hartney.
Mr Hartney, from Whitehawk, has owned the patch of land since 2006 and has been tending to the plot with his friend Mark Woodley, 34, of Brighton.
Years of hard work have culminated in the pair being able to power the miniature nature reserve – including water features, CCTV cameras and even the power tools – entirely through the use of solar panels and wind turbines.
All the electrical appliances used on the site can be powered on 12 volts, which enables Mr Hartney to charge them in an eco-friendly way.
He said: “Even the grass-trimmers and lawnmowers are recharged and powered by the solar panels and wind turbines.
“The whole project I think is quite unique – I certainly haven’t heard of anywhere else having anything like this.
“These items are there if you look for them, so that’s what we do.”
Within the small nature reserve, Mr Hartney grows 23 fruit trees, including hazelnut trees, which bore nuts for the very first time this year, and two peach trees which grow inside his greenhouse.
Wildlife is rife throughout the allotment, with Mr Hartney reporting frequent sightings of frogs, toads, lizards, newts, hedgehogs and a vast array of butterflies and bees.
He is now thinking about expanding the project to help those living in residential care start their own plots.
“Even though I’m retired, I work on this allotment seven days a week. It has become a way of life for me,” Mr Hartney added.
“I often feel that when people reach a certain age they seem to wind down and close down in many respects, but I feel the whole generation have so much to offer.
“I think I’d like to extend this project into nursing homes.
“They have such beautiful grounds in some of them and I think a small nature reserve would work well and give the elderly people who live there something very different to do.”
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