Culture and Heritage for Sustainable Development: Bioregional Lavender

Our series of posts on the varied activities of the London-based Bioregional Development Group has so far seen us look at ground-breaking schemes to localize paper recycling, charcoal production and wood-chip manufacture from urban forestry waste. Each of these schemes has taken on a particular industry and radically rethought the supply chain in ways that cut out unnecessary transport of goods. However, the Bioregional Development Group's vision for sustainability is about more than just reducing the amount of trucks on the road, they are also deeply committed to reviving and nurturing local distinctiveness and tradition.

One the organizations' earliest projects was to revive the once world-famous lavender industry in the London Borough of Sutton, as Bonnie covered previously on TreeHugger here. While the potential for emissions savings and clean energy may not be as obvious or as dramatic as in some of the other Bioregional projects, this scheme has an important conservation value, and it has shown how tapping into local pride and tradition can help reengage people with each other, and with the natural world around them:

"The award-winning Local Lavender project aims to revive the once famous lavender fields of the Carshalton area of London, the "lavender capital of the world" around 1900. The area helped companies such as Yardley build an international reputation in perfumery and bath luxuries. Around 1900, blue fields of Lavender could be seen all over Wallington, Carshalton, Waddon and Sutton. Lavender was used for scented bags, floor and furniture washes, as a disinfectant, to preserve linen from moths, and for remedies. Lavender was also used in recipes such as lavender jam, honey and custard. The harvest has been a popular attraction since 1999 with the flower crop growing larger every year."

The project has since passed out of the hands of the Bioregional Development Group, and is now operated by a community-led enterprise known as Carshalton Lavender. However, this does not mean that the organization has abandoned its commitment to local culture and distinctiveness. In fact, cultural preservation is listed as a core pillar of the group's One Planet Living principles that are guiding its construction projects, right alongside the more usual eco-building fare such as zero carbon, zero waste, and sustainable materials. While we TreeHuggers continue to get excited about clean technology and sustainable innovation, we are glad to see that Bioregional are not forgetting the subtler, less tangible cultural aspects of sustainability that can help move our culture forward in a positive direction. :: Carshalton Lavender:: via the Bioregional Development Group::

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