In February this year a new toy arrived: a cane-baler. During the first few days getting to grips with this new equipment, we were able to collect approximately 70 bales per day, weighing 25kg and measuring 60 x 40cm. We’ve estimated that we could end up with 5,000 bales in total by the time we’ve finished collecting this year.

What on earth are we to do with 5,000 bales? We don’t want to store them long term and we don’t want to burn them. What we do want is to find a good use for them – an ethical, sustainable and practical solution in the spirit of B Corp.

We asked our staff and customers for innovative ideas and there were lots of great suggestions such as a fuel for bio-mass burners/energy heat generation, beach erosion defence, lambing shelters; selling them as garden stools or for sustainable building materials.

Cane Baler
Vineyard Worker Holding a Cane Bale

Cue Pip, one of our new core casual vineyard members:

“When the baler started work and we saw the bales, there was a lot of conversation in the vines about how they could be used. Ideas included building an earth / bale structure for shelter down near the Hundred Acres (a block of vines on the Estate) and seating at parties – but they turned out to be a bit spikey!

“My partner, Fi, also a Vineyard casual, remembered how we’d seen bundles of wood – ‘faggots’ – reinforcing the banks of the Rother near the fish market in Rye. These had been exposed by erosion and had obviously been placed in the river bank years ago. We also talked about the use of old Christmas trees to prevent the movement of the sand dunes at Camber – same principle really.

“After speaking to Ian and David, I said I’d contact the Environment Agency so I emailed, with a photo and dimensions of an average bale and just struck lucky. The initial response was a request to collect some bales for trialling in flood management projects and bank revetment works.

“Then I had an email from the Chichester Harbour Catchment Manager and Catchment Management Team Leader who sent the names and addresses of colleagues at the Ouse and Adur, and Arun and Western Streams Rivers Trusts who he thought might be interested.

“The Environment Agency is very keen to make use of them to repair an area of a bank when the weather allows and High Weald’s Natural Flood Management Officer is very interested in them and hopes to use some for a project later in the year.

“So, it was a slow burn to start with but hopefully something will come out of it. In the meantime, a member of staff has made use of a few for landscaping their garden and Race Director, Darren who organises our environmentally-friendly race has take a few to mark race courses.”

If you have any suggestions of your own or would like to make use of the cane bales, please get in touch with us via: