Green policies for our Devon eco lodges and cottage
The lodges are extremely well-insulated and have solar hot water systems (with back up for cold weather). But already all our electricity comes from 100% renewable sources. In May 2011 we installed a grid-connected 11kW Gaia Wind Turbine that is making us carbon neutral. We've done this with help from Triodos, the ethical bank.
And when the wind's not blowing, our grid connection is with green supplier Good Energy. So your heating and power is entirely green. Firewood for Otter cottage's wood-burning stove now comes entirely from our own managed hedges and woodland.
We ask guests to join us in recycling paper, glass, cans, plastic bottles, cardboard, mixed plastic, tetra paks; and to separate food waste (bins are provided) which goes in the biodigester cones. We also ask you to separate potentially hazardous waste, like dead batteries, so we can ensure they don't end up in landfill sites. With your help, we keep nearly 80% of our waste out of landfill.
Fine spray shower heads conserve water, and flows on basin taps are regulated. We plan to switch some non-drinking water supplies to well and rainwater in the future, probably starting with our laundry and our own house. We are on private drainage, so we take care what we put down the drains, using biodegradable washing up liquid and laundry detergent. We use a simple smart cleaning system to minimize chemical use.
When we have to replace fridges and ovens etc, we buy 'A' rated appliances.
We offer free station transfers to those arriving by train (you can take a car free holiday here), loan guests free 'farm bikes' for local trips, and encourage walking and cycling holidays by loaning maps, blogging monthly walks, offering advice on routes (including those further afield but accessible by public transport) and working with a local company who leave hire bikes with us.
We want you to experience the best the area can offer, so we have webpages with ideas for local days out and a diary of events, all within 30 miles of us.
We promote local food producers and retailers (including a neighbouring farm shop with chemical free produce). You can 'order ahead' before you arrive and your shopping will be delivered.
By reinstating traditional management, we're reverting the meadow in front of the lodges to grassland with wildflowers, and extending hunting grounds for our rare barn owls. We like to put fresh flowers on the tables, but not ones with airmiles attached!
We are also building a new eco lodge, which is a conversion of an existing outbuilding into a straw bale building, with timber from a local woodland conservation project, rainwater harvesting, grey water recycling and as many eco-features as we can cram in. We're determined to build something with a really low carbon footprint. Ian is always delighted to talk to you about this exciting project.
All our accommodation was built as holiday lets - they are not second homes, and there's no planning permission for year-round occupation. So your stay boosts the local economy without taking accommodation away from local people.
That's our primary aim. Our other aim is to offer you comfortable but low carbon holidays. These twin goals guide all our business decisions.
We're delighted to hold 'gold' level approval from the Green Tourism Business Scheme (GTBS) and Devon Wildlife Trust, showing that we manage our land sustainably, promote local produce, educate people about wildlife and farming, help people access wildlife, run our business sustainably, and follow environmental good practice. Good for you, good for the wonderful Devon countryside you came to see, good for local economies, and good for the long term too.
Wheatland Farm is for everyone and every shade of green, from not really interested (don't worry, your holiday will be comfortable and normal, but you'll still be making a difference) to commited campaigner (we hope we'll meet your high standards and that you'll share your experiences with us). Our aim is pragmatic greening that's relevant to your home too.
If you've booked with us you're already making a real contribution - thank you! The money you pay for your holiday finances our conservation work. But if you want to do even more, here are a few ideas...
Support other local businesses - when you eat in the pub, use the farm shop or visit local attractions you're really boosting the local economy that keeps your holiday destination the place you wanted to visit. See our local events diary and blog of ideas for great local days out.
Take a car free day out - why not leave the car behind for at least one day? Here are some ideas for car free Devon days out
Or simply cut back on your food miles rather than your holiday miles. The energy used up in getting food to your plate makes a really substantial contribution to climate change. Why buy an egg that's been shipped around the country in a lorry when you can have one of George's, or a local one from up the road. Want to know how far that egg has actually come? Click here for a link. And our tap water, which is fine to drink, hasn't been bottled in plastic and distributed in carbon-guzzling lorries. It doesn't produce the plastic waste either.
Waste less (and save yourself some money) - at the end of your holiday please don't put good food in the bin! If it's really not fit for consumption take off the wrapping and put it in the compost crocks or biodigester. But why not take it with you to use at home or eat on the way? Or if you don't want it the chickens might well enjoy it...
Recycle - it'll only take a moment. You'll see the bins for glass, tins and clean plastic bottles in the car park (or for Otter cottage, use your green box). We'll also recycle paper for you, cardboard, tetra-pak type waxed drink cartons and mixed plastic, so long as it's clean. But please give it a rinse - the council don't collect the plastic so we store it until we can take it to the nearest centre. It's not a great job picking through mouldy yoghurt containers or dirty meat trays, and they attract rats, so you'll be doing us a big favour by keeping the recycling clean.
Turn off things you're not using - like lights. Please turn down the heating rather than opening a window, and please turn things off when you go out for the day. Yes, the cost of electricity is included in your holiday and yes it's green anyway, but the broader picture is that we all need to reduce our consumption because it's costing the earth.
Your holiday lets us farm the land around your accommodation for wildlife
Managing the land for wildlife is our number one priority, and your stay lets us do that. Our 21-acre farm has small paddocks delineated by overgrown hedgerows, some on traditional Devon banks. We're starting to manage them actively for wildlife. We have nest boxes for our bats,barn owls and dormice, as well as garden birds, and we're managing vegetation around our five ponds to improve their value for wildlife. The land has a covenant that specifically bans intensive agriculture. Wherever possible, we manage the land without chemicals. Itís our policy to use hand tools where practical (scythe rather than strimmer etc).
In June 2011 we were enrolled in the UK's Higher Level Stewardship Scheme, bringing investment in hedging, fencing, scrub clearing and orchard trees that will all help us manage the land for wildlife.
We're particularly privileged to own Popehouse Moor, 7 acres of Culm grassland designated as a 'Site of Special Scientific Interest'. With the help of the Devon Wildlife Trust, and by working with our neighbouring farmers, we re-introduced light traditional grazing. This management is now further-supported by the Higher Level Stewardship Scheme. This management helps maintain a habitat fast vanishing across the county, yet essential for the rare Marsh Fritillary butterfly, now threatened throughout Europe and known to have bred here in the past. Several rare and locally important plants grow here, including Wavy St Johns-Wort. We are cutting back encroaching brambles, opening up over-grown ponds and marshy areas, and regenerating old coppiced hazel stands. Our guests are welcome to explore, and we actively offer to take you on a guided tour - just ask if you want a guide. We are developing better marked paths and putting ID guides and interpretive information in the accommodation. We don't allow dogs in Popehouse Moor (not even our own), and picking flowers, collecting dead wood, or disturbing the wildlife (including the foxes, badgers and deer) is forbidden.
Devon and Cornwall have lost a staggering 92% of their culm grassland since the 1900s, with 62 percent of sites and 48 percent of their total area disappearing between 1984 and 1991. Your stay makes this conservation work economically viable, and we hope you'll enjoy the place as much as we do.
This video shows you a bit more about how we maintain our Popehouse Moor Site of Special Scientific Interest - with the help of our neighbours!
Playing our part in the 'Tree O'clock' record breaking attempt, December 2009
We're building a new straw bale eco lodge: here's a sneak preview!
You get the comfort we've all come to expect and stunning surroundings. Wheatland Farm's lifestyle package minimises consumption without just 'bolting on' technology for the sake of it. It's a glimpse of the future we all hope to see, and invaluable education in winning over hearts and minds to real change in the way we live."
Rob Buckley, of the Sustainable Building Resource Centre in Dorset.
Slimming the bin
Devon self catering cottage and eco lodges
Devon Tourims Awards 2010 - Judges' verdict:
"From the website to wildlife walks with Ian and Maggie any guest to Wheatland Farm would experience an authentic 'green' holiday and leave inspired, with a lighter impact behind them."
home t. 01837 83499, email firstname.lastname@example.org, Wheatland Farm, Winkleigh, Devon, EX19 8DJ.
Policies for your holiday accommodation
Policies for wildlife management on our land
We use our professional skills to run our business sustainably and to conserve UK biodiversity. Maggie is a PhD ecologist and science communicator. Ian has 20 years experience in sustainable tourism.
We hold gold level approval from the Devon Wildlife Trust, and have a gold rating from the Green Tourism Business Scheme.
We make a £5 donation to the Devon Wildlife Trust for everyone paying their balance by BACS transfer.
Left something? When we send things back to you we do it at our own expense but we ask you to make a donation to the Devon Wildlife Trust of at least the value of the postage.
We advertise through agencies specialising in sustainable travel.
Wherever possible, we keep our office records electronically, or on re-used paper.
We heat our own house and office using our own sustainably managed wood and heat recycled from our condensing tumble dryer.
We make a monthly personal donation to Medicines Sans Frontieres to help those less fortunate than us.
Our environmental policy is on our website and in our visitor information packs, and we also have a green choices blog, where we record and assess our sustainability-related business decisions. We want to show that a sustainable holiday doesn't mean giving up all the good things.