Wheatland Farm’s Charter For 2020

This is Wheatland Farm’s Charter 2020 – marking our achievements in the 2019-2020 Devon and South West Region Tourism Awards with a renewed commitment¬† and a detailed action plan for what we’ll keep doing to help tackle the interlinked climate and biodiversity crises this year.

Solar PV, solar thermal, a wind turbine, green grid power, water monitoring, insulation, car free holidays, straw bale buildings, better wildlife… over the past 10 years we’ve done all the obvious stuff. Our Environmental Policies l(ike 100% renewable energy) keep going.¬† But here we’ll set out how we’re still keeping the pressure on, squeezing even more from our ‘Less Is More’ approach. It’s about having a brilliant holiday without it costing the Earth.

Here’s what we’ll do at Wheatland Farm and around the eco lodges in the near future; what we hope to achieve; and some more ambitious plans we’re working towards.¬† It’s a working document, and we’ll be referring back to it.

Wheatland Farm’s Resource Use

We will continue to minimise energy consumption, supplied or embodied, wherever possible, including by:

  • Keeping the washing and drying in house, using power generated on site (and the washing lines), even as we get busier.
  • Keeping up our ’empty hot tubs immediately and maintain cold’ approach between bookings – because it cuts energy use and ensures each guest gets a clean fresh hot tub.
  • Not adding conventional hot tubs to Honeysuckle and Nuthatch Lodges. But we will investigate outside bath tubs – insulated, optional/bookable, upcycled, using a fraction of the water, without the need for spa chemicals, without the ‘hot and on standby’ time of conventional hot tubs, but offering all the wow experience of a hot tub under the stars.
  • Doing another stretch of intensive monitoring for individual lodges in 2020.
  • Replacing 2 sub standard windows in the farm house
  • Continuing upgrading the older double glazing in the lodges – focusing on the smaller windows now that we’ve done all the main veranda windows.
  • Continuing to repair rather than replace, making this ‘up front and obvious’, with a ‘cherished not chucked’ tag.
  • Consider solar hot water on the farmhouse as part of a barn re-roofing project.

We will continue to push hard on reducing waste. Technically, we can probably claim zero to landfill, because >80% is recycled, and the rest goes for energy reclamation. But it always seems to risk greenwash. So instead:

  • We will keep to our nearly no bins policy – because there’s nearly no such thing as rubbish.
  • We will continue to hand sort waste, so as much as possible goes to the right recycling stream, even if guests have missed something. We will make this more visible, while taking care not to shame guests.
  • As well as redirecting waste that’s not collected at the kerbside – things like tetrapack, that we can take for recycling, we will add recycling for crisp packets, via a local community scheme. We feel the main value of this is the awareness / consumer pressure aspect, so we will make this activity more visible and thought provoking.
  • We will continue to promote the national refill scheme, and put bottles in the fridges to chill tap water. We can’t prevent guests bringing bottled water, but we can nudge them by making tap water more normal, expected and attractive.
  • We will increase promotion of Local Farm Box for grocery deliveries, which largely comes in paper bags.
  • We’ll continue to emphasise the ‘no food in the bin’ message, which is crucial to changing attitudes from ‘rubbish’ to ‘reuseable resource’.

On Wheatland Farm’s Wildlife

Protecting UK farmland biodiversity goes to the heart of Wheatland Farm ‘s rationale and ethos. We’ll keep up the positive changes by:

  • Maintaining our management diary, so that whoever eventually takes over from us has the working history, including imagery.
  • Keeping using ‘irecord’ so Wheatland Farm’s nature records build up over time and eventually become publically and freely accessible through the National Biodiversity Network’s Atlas.
  • Striving to ensure any change we make brings a net gain for biodiversity on the farm – and recording this in the diary.
  • Putting up more insect ‘hotels’
  • More bird boxes
  • More bat boxes – and another survey in 2020 if the kit is available
  • Having a composting heap aimed specifically for reptiles
  • Continuing recording dragonflies (year 3)
  • Continuing surveying for bumblebees (year 2)

Better Facilities For Wheatland Farm’s Guests

All our guests are ‘on the team’, as it’s their stay that makes Wheatland Farm’s wildlife management possible. We want them to have a fabulous time! This year we will:

  • Take every opportunity to engage guests with wildlife – by pointing things out, explaining what we’re doing, offering nature walks and pond dipping, or veranda birdwatches.
  • Make sure every guest hears the ‘thank you – your stay looks after the wildlife’ message via at least one channel.
  • Add bird ID books to the lodges rather than just the laminated sheets
  • Build a pontoon into the wildlife pond, so we can keep wild swimming at the deeper end and leave the weed for damselflies at the shallow end.
  • Add a new stargazing bath tub experience to Honeysuckle Lodge (see above) – maintaining the principles of reuse (recycled bath), energy efficiency (100% renewable), and guests paying the resource cost if they want to treat themselves (it’ll be an optional extra).
  • Make more of the turbine walk – underway from spring 2020.
  • Plan and start a much larger labyrinth, using the soft rush that needs managing in the turbine field. This will provide a new feature, trial new management techniques, boost late flowering species and help us manage the rushes.
  • Reuse the old greenhouse as a rain shelter / wildlife hide near the pond – spring 2020.
  • Work towards a new, big pond in the turbine field, after 2021, as part of a further business plan
  • Work towards a pedestrian access to Popehouse Moor from the far corner of Lower Newland Moor

Wheatland Farm in the Community

  • Complete Maggie’s 3 year term on the Devon Countryside Access Forum (until April 2020).
  • Then play a more active role in the newly-formed Winkleigh Environment Group
  • Get involved with the North Devon Biosphere Reserve’s Pledge for Nature campaigns (we were one of the 200 crowdfunders who helped get this project going in 2019).
  • Continue to suport Crediton’s Repair Cafe
  • Offer to cut the grass at the community trees site.

Lower Carbon Food At Wheatland Farm

Globally, about 25% of carbon emmissions come from food production, so food choices are important. This year at Wheatland Farm we will really try to draw together the ‘threads’ on lower carbon food so we can make a strong strand that runs through our business and personal lives. We will:

  • Research and promote more local options for vegan food
  • Promote Wheatland Farm’s vegan alternative to welcome scones, rather than having it as available on request.
  • Promote ‘locivore’ approaches, including continuing to promote Fiona’s Farm Shop, grocery deliveries and the village shops.
  • Continue to promote low packaging options for food, like localfarmbox.co.uk
  • Stock local potatos, at cost and with an honesty box system.
  • Keep (and analyse) a tally of how much meat and fish we eat ourselves – because it’s by exploring our habits that we change. We think we eat very little – how much is that?!

Lower Carbon Transport At Wheatland Farm

Personal transport is one of the things we find hardest to tackle, given Wheatland Farm’s rural location and our limited resources. We recently reassessed whether we could afford an electric car – and the answer was a clear no, even with grants and fuel savings etc etc. We even investigated an electric motorbike. Sadly, nothing within our budget would even get us to Exeter and back. But we’re not giving up. Instead, we’ll work hard to minimise our impacts, squeezing hard from all angles.

  • We continue to offer bookable electric car charging, to guests and to the general public. But from now we’ll charge at cost because we can’t afford to push people all around Devon, and energy just isn’t free.
  • Together with Responsibletravel.com and a local bike hire business we are promoting electric bike holidays in Devon.
  • We continue to offer car free holidays, with a suggested bus-based itinerary and with free collection from public transport on arrival/departure. We do whatever we can to support guests making an effort to ditch the car.
  • All guests can borrow free push bikes.
  • We will continue to use bicycles for short journeys, to extend public transport journeys (train plus bike), or just to knock miles off journeys (eg car share and bike).
  • We will continue to use public transport wherever possible in our personal lives (eg the kids go to school on the public bus).
  • From March 2020 we’ll use a super-efficient (180mpg) petrol motor bike for most single person journeys that are too long to cycle. That’s three times as efficient as our car. If electric motorbikes extend their range over the next few years, we will swap to one.
  • Longer term, we’re aware we probaby need to put dedicated charging points in for each eco lodge. That’s a big project because it involves shifting car parking. So we’re moving towards it.