Going Green on our Farm Stay 5 years ago seemed like the logical thing to do, we knew that more and more of our guests shared a passion for their environment and if we could get it right, our guests would choose our farm stay over other destinations.
Our vision was not just about doing one thing Green to tick of the doing our bit box, but rather being green in every decision making part of the business.
Planting for the future:
The journey 5 years ago started with planting an orchard, in the back of our minds we had the quote of never truly seeing the beauty of a tree planted in your lifetime, whilst this still holds true, you can at least enjoy the fruits along the way. Five years on the orchard delivers beyond our expectations, it is a centre for wildlife, buzzards, bats, owls, woodpeckers, finches, frogs, the list Is endless, all form part of this carefully planed Eco System. The truth however started with simply wanting to make fruit available to our guests, but nature has a way of taking over your simple plan and enhancing it with a surprise around every corner.
The orchard now delivers cherries, apples of endless tastes and flavours from traditional English varieties, red currants, white currants, hazel nuts, plumbs, damsons, green gauges, mulberries and gooseberries of the most extraordinary flavour. In fact the produce is in a bounty greater than ours and our guest consumption combined, but nature has a way of dealing with that.
Washing on Solar:
Our single biggest outlay after developing our Guest Accommodation in the Grain Store and Coach House, was the installation of solar panels, positioned on the Barn they sit quietly producing a third of our power consumption, our heating and cooking bills have reduced, all laundry on the farm is managed in house, this is not outsourced and therefore lessens our Carbon footprint, this is further reduced by only washing when the sun shines, the washing is line dried, folded and therefore removes the need for ironing. In the winter months we have reverted back to a Victorian clothes airer, which sits in the ceiling space above the log burner.
Watching the meter:
Anyone having installed solar panels by default becomes obsessed with watching their electricity meter, ours is under the stairs, I think this was a deliberate act by the major suppliers of the day to conceal the volume of electricity you consume directly from you, therefore hiding it away so you can’t see the speed at which the wheel spins allows them to go on making money even when you sleep! I will stop myself here as I intend this article to be positive, but will simply ask that if you have a tumble drier see how fast you can make your meter turn by simply switching it on, then ask yourself if there might be an alternative?
Look to the past:
Being a little off grid we do not have mains gas on the farm and our heating is oil dependant, however when the power goes off so does the Rayburn as it’s control panel runs on electricity, so in the middle of a power cut with one of our own Gammon Joints par boiled we turned to the log burner for our source of cooking, that year we replaced our log burner for one with a flat top, we fitted a rack above as a plate and pan warmer and with the exception of weekly roast joints if it can’t be cooked on the log burner in the winter it doesn’t get cooked.
Oaks Barn Farm Reared Meat
Our lambs provide us with enough meat for ourselves, and a reasonable income from sales to guests and friends whilst at the same time helping to cut the pasture on the farm without the need to mow it. The pigs on the farm bring so much more than simply being a meat product, they have a personality all of their own and are great for weeding nettles thistles and docs out of the field. They love to run free and like nothing more than turning an area of soil over and lying in it under the shade of a tree. We are satisfied that livestock wouldn’t have a life if they were not part of our food chain but know that each animal at Oaks Barn Farm has had the best life it can on the Farm and the meat taste is all the better for it.
There is nothing more satisfying than watching something you have planted tended and watered grow flourish and provide you with food as your reward. The farm grows its own potatoes, brassicas salad crops with gone over crops being fed to the livestock or composted.
Making The Most of What Life Throws at You:
We harvest rainwater on the Farm, for livestock to drink, for washing down and for watering.
Our learning has not been without mistakes, but looking forward our experience has taught us that being green feels good, our social conscience is all the better for the experience, being Green can not only save you money but make money for you, it’s healthy and every day presents a new opportunity through all of our seasons.
Thank you for reading…….