The West Country business creates a biomass fuel from bracken. The company, called Brackenburn, harvests bracken from within 100 miles of their factory before turning the yield into briquette style logs called “Brackettes” - As recently featured on BBC’s Countryfile Bracken covers 250,000 acres in the West Country and is a nuisance plant that needs controlling. (Left unmanaged this invasive rhizome will encroach by 3% per year.) By harvesting bracken regularly it increases the bio-diversity of the land encouraging natural flora and fauna.
There are other major benefits too. There’s no need to cut down trees to keep home fires burning and no arable land is taken out of production to grow energy crops. And, the residue is high in potash, a natural fertiliser.
The bracken is cut and baled only when the plant turns brown, so the traditional harvest season is extended by as much as 2 months creating valuable employment in rural areas.
Brackenburn, which was awarded £500,000 from Ignite - Centrica’s social enterprise programme – will be creating jobs, too. Apart from extending the harvesting season, the company is currently recruiting young out of work people at the plant at Puxton Park, Somerset.
The company has gained strong support from local landowners and farmers and has been well-received at a number of prestigious shows including the Royal Bath & West.
Sam Salisbury, from Centrica’s Ignite programme, said: “Biomass fuels have developed rapidly in the last decade. We’re especially excited to be working with Brackenburn. Their novel use for bracken is a great product, is good for our environment and provides fantastic opportunities for young people.”
Dan McCarthy of The Green Olive Firewood said “We are delighted to be working with Brackenburn as both businesses have similar values - local, responsible, range and knowledge and the product fits perfectly within The Green Olive Firewood innovative , earthy, natural & trendy range of home fuels”.
Brackenburn’s “Brackettes” can be bought from The Green Olive Firewood Company. Ridge Farm, Horsham Road, Rowhook, Nr Horsham, West Sussex, RH12 3QB