Green policies for our Devon eco lodges and cottage
Environmental policies for your holiday accommodation
- Reducing energy use. The lodges are extremely well-insulated and have solar hot water systems (with back up for cold weather).
- Producing renewable energy. Our grid-connected 11kW Gaia Wind Turbine and solar PV panels produce almost all 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.
- All our laundry is onsite, and therefore powered by renewables.
- We use low-impact washing powders (Ecover) and cleaners
- We use 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.
- We’ve built 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, 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 this exciting eco lodge.
- 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.
- We always look to repair rather than replace
- We ask guests to join us in recycling paper, glass, cans, plastic, cardboard, tetra paks
- Food waste goes in the 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.
- 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.
- We are on private drainage, so we take care what we put down the drains, using biodegradable washing up liquid and laundry detergent.
- We offer 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 we have webpages with ideas for local days out and a diary of events, all within 30 miles of us, including including those accessible by public transport.
Land management policies
- 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.
- 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. It’s our policy to use hand tools where practical (scythe rather than strimmer etc).
- We have 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.
- 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.
Sustainable business policies
- 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.
- 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 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 through agencies specialising in sustainable travel.
- Our office records are ketp 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 and the RNLI.
- Maggie works as a freelance editor at the interface of environment and development issues.
- Our 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 sustainable holiday doesn’t mean giving up all the good things.