Green policies for our Devon eco lodges and cottage
These are our long standing policies and approaches. For a detailed action plan for 2020, see Wheatland Farm’s Charter for 2020.
Low carbon policies for your holiday accommodation
Energy policies at Wheatland Farm
Reducing energy use. The eco lodges are extremely well-insulated and have solar hot water systems (with back up for cold weather).
- Producing renewable energy. Wheatland Farm’s grid-connected 11kW Gaia Wind Turbine and solar PV panels produce most of the power we need earch year.
- Buying renewable energy. When we’re not generating, our grid connection is with green supplier Good Energy. Wheatland Farm eco lodges do not use gas.
- Renewable heat. Firewood for Otter cottage’s wood-burning stove now comes entirely from our own managed hedges and woodland.
- Wheatland Farm’s hot tubs (Beech and Balebarn Lodges) are electric, because we can’t reliably grow enough wood on the farm to run them on biomass. But their power is 100% renewable, so when it comes from our wind turbine, maintaining the hot tub temperatures provides an effective way to use our own power on site. Hot tubs are kept cold and chlorinated between bookings – safer for you and better for the environment.
Accommodation policies at Wheatland Farm
- All Wheatland Farm’s laundry is onsite, and therefore powered by renewables.
- Keeping laundry onsite means we can give our cleaning staff year round employment
- We use low-impact washing powders (Ecover) and cleaners
- Wheatland Farm has a simple smart cleaning system to minimize chemical use.
- ‘Hotel fold’ towels and ‘unused bed‘ signs mean we don’t need to wash what you haven’t used.
- When we have to replace fridges and ovens etc, we buy ‘A’ rated appliances.
- New purchases are made from recycled materials wherever possible – duvets, pillows, dishcloths, toilet roll.
- Wheatland Farm’s Balebarn Eco Lodge is a conversion of an existing outbuilding into a straw bale building, with timber from a local woodland conservation project, upcycled fittings and as many eco-features as we can cram in. We’ve built something inspriting with a really low carbon footprint. Ian is always delighted to talk to you about low carbon building projects.
- All our holiday accommodation was built specifically as holiday lets – they are not second homes, and there’s no planning permission for year-round occupation. So your stay at Wheatland Farm’s Nature Reserve and Lodges boosts the local economy without taking accommodation away from local people.
Waste policies at Wheatland Farm
- We always look to repair rather than replace
- Wheatland Farm asks guests to join us in recycling paper, glass, cans, plastic, cardboard, tetra paks etc. We send at least 80% of so called ‘waste’ back into recycling. The remainder is incinerated for energy reclamation.
- Food waste goes for anaerobic digestion, and some goes to Wheatland Farm’s own wormery and biodigester cones (bins are provided).
- Containers are provided for potentially hazardous waste, like dead batteries, so we can ensure they don’t end up in landfill sites.
Water policies at Wheatland Farm
- Outside water for washing and watering is mostly from water butts (themselves recycled containers)
- Fine spray shower heads conserve water, and flows on basin taps are regulated.
- Wheatland Farm is not on mains drainage, and our ditches and streams are a precious part of our Nature Reserve. So we take care what we put down the drains, using biodegradable washing up liquid and laundry detergent.
- Wheatland Farm’s hot tubs at Balebarn and Beech Lodges are optional, and we charge per stay to cover the extra resources these use (the water and the renewable energy). Waste water from the hot tubs supports a small reedbed in the lodge field, providing habitat for birds, insects and even harvest mice. We plan to expand our the reed beds over time.
Transport policies at Wheatland Farm
- Wheatland Farm offers free station transfers to those arriving by train (you can take a car free holiday here),
- Everyone can borrow free ‘farm bikes’ for local trips, and walking and cycling maps,
- We want you to experience the best the area can offer, so Wheatland Farm Nature Reserve and Lodges has webpages with ideas for local days out , all within 30 miles of us, including including those accessible by public transport. We post local events on our Facebook page.
Land management policies at Wheatland Farm
- We record what we’re doing to manage Wheatland Farm in our management log.
- By reinstating traditional management, we’re reverting the meadow in front of the lodges to grassland with wildflowers, and extending hunting grounds for Devon’s increasingly scarce barn owls.
- Wheatland Farm’s 21-acres has small fields 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 Wheatland Farm Nature Reserve and Lodges without chemicals. It’s our policy to use hand tools where practical (scythe rather than strimmer etc).
- Wheatland Farm has land 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.
- Back in autumn 2008 we re-shaped our largest pond, making it better for wildlife and introducing more wetland areas for birds, flowers and dragonflies. With help from the Environment Agency we gave the carp away to a local angling club. With no carp have more water plants, tadpoles etc. Most years we get an explosion of froglets!
- Wheatland Farm Nature Reserve and Lodges is 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 that is 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 at Wheatland Farm, 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.
- Wheatland Farm’s 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 eco lodges.
- 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. Hunting is also forbidden, under Popehouse Moor’s legal designation. At times, this has led to confrontations with the Eggesford Hunt, who ignore both the law and our requests for them to steer clear. This is something we continue to battle.
- 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 at Wheatland Farm Nature Reserve and Lodges makes this conservation work economically viable, and we hope you’ll enjoy the place as much as we do.
Sustainable business policies at Wheatland Farm
- Wheatland Farm promotes 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.
- We use our professional skills to run Wheatland Farm sustainably and to conserve UK biodiversity. Maggie is a PhD ecologist and science communicator. Ian has 25+ years experience in sustainable tourism.
- We make a £5 donation to the Devon Wildlife Trust for everyone paying their balance by BACS transfer.
- We advertise Wheatland Farm through agencies specialising in sustainable travel.
- Our office records are kept electronically, or on re-used paper.
- We heat our own house and office using our own sustainably managed wood.
- We make a monthly donation to Medicines Sans Frontieres to help those less fortunate than us, to the RSPB to speak up for nature, and are members and supporters of the Devon Wildlife Trust.
- Maggie works as a freelance editor at the interface of environment and development issues.
- The Wheatland Farm environmental policy is on our website and in our visitor information packs, and we also blog our green choices, recording and assessing our sustainability-related business decisions. We want to show that a low carbon Devon holiday doesn’t mean giving up all the good things.