Our journey to becoming a certified B Corporation
Arguably, the most tangible key to all progress of humankind is the tool. The action of picking up a stone to crack a nut or dig out a root to eat started something! Ok, sorry, whacky pre-neolithic introduction, but our B Corp journey began with the discovery of a tool. Through the initial Business Impact Assessment (the first process all businesses must complete to become a B Corp,) we found a method and a map for the journey that we knew we were on but had no instruments to guide us or measure progress.
Team effort to interpret the details of the Business Impact Assessment (BIA) was significant in the early stages, and with time a process of monitoring and investigating began to spread across the company and will continue.
A major part of our journey so far has been the support and encouragement from a network and community that has not been unlocked by B Corp directly but by the questions that the process has stimulated. We have asked for help, and found it.
We achieved B Corp certification this year, it has been the work of many and in many ways, the journey has only just begun.
Read on to learn more about our B Corp journey, and SIGN UP HERE to recieve updates on our progress.
Growing an understanding of impact
In late 2020 we began working through a continuity plan for the next generation on the farm. This stimulated a renewed focus into our ethics and values and how to translate our vision to action.
Over a few years and several workshops, both formal and not, many words were shared among owners and team members until we distilled things down to two: efficiency and respect. We all felt it useful to have simplicity leading our way through a nuanced path of learning and improvement.
A key component of our ethos is the shared nature of its origin. We formally and informally workshopped what is important to us and those we touch through our myriad of business activities. This process delivered, and will continue to as we continue to discuss, measure and improve.
We have taken the above themes which allow us to focus our efforts to measure and improve in each of these areas.
Our target since we began monitoring our waste was to reduce waste to landfill to no more than 50%. In order to achieve this, we implemented regular monitoring of waste and communicated these results to the team. Signage around each site about waste separation, engagement via our Green Ambassadors and implementing separated bins for customers as well as communicating more with our waste removal company have all allowed The Garlic Farm to achieve consistent meeting of this target.
Waste to landfill results YE300622
Shop & restaurant site: reduced to 36% landfill
Wholesale & Office site: reduced to 28% landfill
Waste to landfill results YE300623
Whole site : 48% landfill
For YE300624 we are implementing regular recording of food waste to inform changes to menu and opportunities to reduce both plate and prep waste in our restaurant kitchen. We are also investigating introducing a Ridan food composter to compost our raw food waste which will reduce our total food waste to by 50%. Our goal is to reach an understanding of how our restaurant might achieve a zero waste target over the next 3 years.
Our target when we began in YE 30 6 21 was to reduce energy consumption and water consumption across the whole business by 10% compared to baseline. We have therefore consistently monitored our energy consumption and taken actions to reduce such as replacement of light bulbs with LEDs, replacement of diesel vehicles with 2 leased electric vehicles, increased use of renewable energy sources i.e. solar & biomass and better communications with team and guests regarding resource efficiency.
Below shows % energy from Solar produced by our onsite Solar Panels over the last 3 years
With regards to reducing water usage, we have achieved our 10% reduction target for the past 2 years by fixing leaks, using water saving techniques such as in all toilet flush systems.
For YE 300623 and YE 300624 we have continued to drive improvements through installation of further solar panels, installation of water butts around the site, more efficient use of dishwashers and improving plumbing fittings to reduce outflow. Going forward, we will continue to assess water usage changes alongside our new regenerative farming practices and establish new baselines and targets to aim for over the coming years.
Environment and Ecology
In October 2022 we achieved Organic status with Soil Association and continue with measurements and experimentation with our regenerative farming practices to improve soil health. We also identified the possibility of improved biodiversity and ecology through research into a waste water wetland system, which has become part of an ongoing plan for treatment of all waste water from our shop, restaurant and accommodation site. This project is eagerly awaiting planning permission and due to start imminently. We have done the first phases of understanding our overall carbon footprint as a business. This has included calculating both Scope 1, Scope 2 and Scope 3 Emissions (Scope 1 emissions are direct emissions from owned or controlled sources.
Scope 2 emissions are indirect emissions from the generation of purchased energy.
Scope 3 emissions are all indirect emissions (not included in scope 2) that occur in the value chain of the reporting company, including both upstream and downstream emissions.) We use the results of these to drill down into our processes and reduce our emissions wherever possible.
Plans for YE 300623 included achieving organic certification with Soil Association, achieving Pasture for Life certification for our herd of cattle, finalising plans for wetland ecosystem, management of our herd to achieve self-sufficiency in beef for our restaurant.
Our goal in YE 300622 and YE 30062023 was to engage with all our suppliers around social and environmental goals to align practices and identify ways to collaborate to improve. Our Supplier Celebration Event brought together 50 local suppliers to inform and collaborate over improvements. We also engaged with our top suppliers through a ‘Supplier Code of Conduct’ outlining a joint commitment to making social and environmental improvements. Our next supplier engagement event will take place in February 2024 and we will bring together suppliers old and new to share our B Corp journey workshop new ways in which we can work together to reduce our impact.
Our goals going forward are to research further into transition of our ambient lines to organic production and to have a clear provenance for all meat and fish purchased in our restaurant. At least one ingredient in each restaurant menu item is locally sourced.
We aim to provide secure jobs in a stable business to allow financial security for our team members. To this end, we have committed to being a ‘Living Wage Foundation’ employer’ meaning that all team members who are over 18 receive the ‘real Living Wage’ set by the Living Wage Foundation, which is above the national minimum. In addition, we provide personal accident insurance for all employees and have made a board level commitment to an emergency buffer to cover wages for 3 months. In YE 300622 and YE 30062023, we continued our LWF commitment, reviewed our wages and decided to increase all wages in line with the LWF increase of £1/hr for all team members. We included financial security topics in our employee survey to highlight any particular areas where we can have a positive impact as an employer. We provide information to all our team about pensions and all other benefits available to them.
Our aims going forward is to continue to honour our LWF commitment, review all wages 1st April and assess where improvements can be made, issue communications with all team members about steps to take if they find themselves in financial difficulty and communicate with all team members about helplines available through our private medical insurance policies. We also offer one to one financial health checks with a proffessional independant adviser who can sign post to assistance according to people’s specific circumstances.
Wellness & Safety
For the last 3 years we have implemented our annual team satisfaction surveys which aim to highlight any areas of concern or action required. The results of our most recent survey shows areas for our attention are financial security, team training and stress at work. Our goals for YR End 300624 are to aim for a 25% improvement across the following areas: training, stress at work and financial security. We have also implemented a Health & Safety Review across the business to update all risk assessments. We have honoured our commitment to both health cover schemes and have a dedicated budget for team welfare/social activities. Survey results are also used in appraisals to set targets and assess team welfare. Teams used welfare budget for team social events, workshops and outings.
For YE 300623 we issued our Menopause Policy. We also aim to put plans in place for a Wellbeing Day to include some of the areas identified for improvement in the Team Satisfaction Survey such as stress management, lifestyle choices, financial security and general health & wellbeing.
Customers & Community
In YE 300622 we set a target of minimum 4.5 stars across all customer feedback channels (facebook, google, upfront, dishcult). We have consistently monitored this and communicated results in management meetings and to customer facing teams. Customer Service training for all customer service facing team members was conducted in March 2022 with commitment to actionable changes. Targets were reached or exceeded in all customer feedback channels since then.
As part of our commitment to community, Directors at The Garlic Farm are involved in various community organisations such as Visit Isle of Wight, Biosphere Steering committee, Island Careers Partnership.
Our Buddy Scheme employing members of the team who need extra help at work has continued and we have placed a second team member in the business under this scheme.
Charitable donations to local and other causes for YE 300622 totalled £16,735 and £1707 in YE300624 including both financial donations and in kind donations of garlic and other products. The largest donations are made to WightAid which ensures that donations are distributed to the most in-need charities and organisations based on the island vetted by WightAid.
In June 2023 we hosted a fundraising event for Mountbatten hospice which raised £3241 and aim to place another worker in our business through the Care in the Garden buddy scheme.
Training and Development
During YE 300622 and YE 30062023, training took place in all departments for tailored needs of particular areas of the business. Team training included the following:
Annual All Team Training (this session includes informing all team members about our B Corp progress and commitments, aligning team on our Mission and Values as well as updating on Health & Safety, Code of Conduct and Staff Benefits Packages.
Customer Service Training for all customer facing team members
Full review of First Aid, Fire Marshalling, Food Safety and Health & Safety training updates
YE 06302023 we have held Farm walks for all team members to train teams of agroecological practices and outcomes and including training and development outcome in all appraisals to ensure commitment to one training element for every employee during the year 23/24.