How sustainable and responsible is TCB and can we do more to help our fragile environment?
At the turn of the century we converted our farm to being fully organic. Gone were the chemicals, pesticides, artificial fertilisers, routine use of antibiotics and anthelmintics and in came our passion for healthy, sustainable management of the land. Organic means working with nature, not against it. Our focus shifted to protecting our environment, encouraging wildlife and producing delicious organic produce. We were thrilled earlier this year to capture evidence of having otters on our land - top predator, reflecting a very healthy wildlife environment. We didn't turn overnight into 'eco warriors' it happened gradually over time! The longer we have been organic the more committed we have become which has fed through to the wider environment.
We would love to say TCB is powered by totally renewable sources but working with a 1930's building brings its challenges. All the cavity walls have been filled, the loft is insulated to extra depth and all windows are double-glazed. We focus on retaining the energy used and preventing wastage. Low energy lamps or low voltage light fittings are used throughout as well as dimmer switches. The open fire in the lounge is fuelled by sustainable timber from our land. As for water - we're off grid! All TCB's water is fresh, natural spring water from our own land and the wastewater is treated on site to ensure it meets with Environmental Heath standards. The Spa Hall is heated by the efficient ground source heat pump, which means far less energy is needed to heat both the pool and the hall itself. All across the Orchard lie metres and metres of pipework filled with fluid which absorbs the heat from the ground and then passes through a heat exchanger into the heat pump - highly technical but very effective. The pool and hot tub both have thermal covers to prevent heat and moisture loss when not in use. Additionally the Spa Hall has a green roof which provides better insulation, creates a natural ecosystem increasing biodiversity, reduces noise and retains rainwater and, together with plants, returns a portion of this water to the atmosphere through evaporation and transpiration.
We work very hard at reducing, recycling and reusing as much waste as we can and encourage our guests to do so too. Food waste and landfill are the two areas we aim to minimalize by encouraging guests to feed their scraps to the on site animals (pigs and poultry) and providing recycling containers for most materials. We work with our guests and staff to ensure that all waste is disposed of in line with legal and environmental requirements. There is a large 'bin' area with clearly labelled containers for different materials.
Following the success of our wildflower strips along the driveway we have decided to extend it further, giving over larger areas to natural regrowth, reducing the need to mow extensive areas. This helps significantly improve the biodiversity on our driveway, bringing benefits for wildlife, for us and for future generations in addition to reducing the use of fuel.
Not only do we have a passion and commitment to making our immediate area healthier, happier and greener but to the wider community as well. We work with the Parish Council to maintain our beautiful heritage road signs, litter free country lanes and a great network of local walks. Walking or driving through our beautiful lanes we always stop and pick up litter. A local network of local walks is vital. We opened up 'permissive paths' on our land to create good circular walks for the community and our guests; we also maintain several miles of paths on our land.
We realise the significance of having 'local' amenities close to hand and know that trade from ourselves and our guests can help towards their survival. We encourage guests to use the local shop and eateries and offer them pampering, archery, clay shooting and catering which can all be provided on site by local businesses. We have also created maps for all these local places enabling guests to have the courage and knowledge in order to walk there. We have an 'honesty cupboard' in TCB promoting local produce and supporting local businesses - apple juice, honey, toiletries, ales and cider. Guests are welcomed with gifts of local produce, home made chocolate cake, fresh eggs from our hens and flowers from our garden.
TCB is a destination in it's own right. Remoteness to public transport means guests arrive by car or taxi but once here they are encouraged to put away their keys and embrace life at TCB. Our guest feedback form asks for suggestions for good days out and this is rarely filled in, those that do are all along the lines of "too much to do on site, no need to go anywhere else". We love guests who breathe in the beauty of our countryside, get involved with the animals, get absorbed in the wildlife, swim, play games both inside and out, explore the farm and have a truly wonderful countryside break. The bird feeder outside the snug, along with bird books and guides allow guests to enjoy watching them close up. We are always looking at improving guests experience and immersing them further into our wonderful world.
We firmly believe that our success depends on our community's success and we need to work hand in hand. Purchasing goods and services from local providers is the way forward. We are beginning to unravel the complexities of where everything comes from, aiming to source as much as possible from as close as possible. We have discovered a wonderful company in Somerset producing the most incredible toiletries, so out with our old and in with Bramley.
We continuously review and research opportunities to improve our environment and welcome comments and helpful suggestions from all. If you have any ideas or suggestions for us to improve our green credentials we would love to hear from you. Thank you.