Orchard Farm Environmental Policy
We converted our redundant Orchard Farm barns in 1999/2000. They were in a poor state but had been used for cattle and storage until shortly before we bought the property at auction in 1983. The setting was superb but the buildings and the ‘garden’ had been sorely neglected and required a significant amount of work and dedication.
Our vision then was to restore the extremely rundown buildings in the most environmentally responsible manner possible, with great care and concern for the surroundings. We wanted a house for our family and – in the future – to offer exceptional accommodation from our outstanding situation in a lovely village within the beautiful Peak District National Park, whilst protecting the environment and the local wildlife.
Seventeen years later, we tackled the second phase, converting the old limestone barns attached to the farmhouse. The conversion was led by a local conservation architect and carried out by a two-man team of talented local builders helped by local tradesmen whose local knowledge and sympathetic understand of old buildings was an inspiration to us all.
The cottages were furnished and equipped with a blend of old and new, wherever possible using the original stone and original wooden and stone lintels etc, or else fair-trade and environmentally sound products from local providers. They were decorated inside and out using environmentally acceptable paints, by the same self-employed local decorator who still does all our decorating; we use and have a very good working relationship with a local joiner, plumber, electrician and other local suppliers.
As a small rural business we are aware that our activities can cause harm to the environment and we take steps to minimize this effect. We continually work with GTBS (the Green Tourism Business Scheme), Peak National Park contacts, Visit Peak District & Derbyshire and other local and professional networks to improve how we run our business. Since September 2011 we have been holders of the Peak District EQM (Environmental Quality Mark).
We constantly seek greener alternatives in the products we use, with the proviso that we are enhancing and never compromising the quality of our guests’ stay. Every decision is subject to the following questions:
- Do we really need it?
- Can we get it locally?
- Does the supplier have a shared “Green Philosophy”?
- Is there a greener alternative?
- Will it improve the quality of their time here for our guests?
We have policies on the following key target areas of our business:
Waste – we monitor all our waste products and recycle as much as possible
- Glass, paper, tins and plastic are recycled.
- We try to make it as easy as possible for our guests to recycle their rubbish
- Email and telephone is used, where appropriate, rather than paper-based communication.
- Used printer cartridges we give to the Parwich Primary School or sent for recycling via www.eachonecounts.co.uk to Tommy’s – the ‘baby charity’.
- Refills & bulk buying with local colleagues or Natural Choice in Ashbourne is undertaken where possible to reduce packaging waste.
- Ash from the wood burning stoves is used on the compost heap.
- Green kitchen waste is composted and used on the garden.
- Cooked food and plate waste is composted in the “Green Cone” waste digester
- Batteries and other hazardous waste is disposed of safely in the Ashbourne Recycling Centre
- Where possible we purchase recycled products to help ‘close the loop’.
- We use Freegle to find a home for no-longer-needed items including furniture and ‘white goods’.
Water – monitor of usage and new technologies
- A water-monitoring programme is in place to identify leaks and help benchmark usage.
- Rainwater is collected in water butts and used to water the garden and containers in the yard.
- Showers are available as a water saving option to a bath.
Energy – monitor and refurbish as and when possible
- We keep a constant check on our electricity usage via a Wattson home energy monitor.
- An active energy-monitoring programme is in place to benchmark usage and help identify potential savings.
- Where appropriate energy efficient bulbs replace traditional bulbs when the existing bulb fails.
- Windows are double glazed and draft free.
- During renovation the cottages were fitted with high levels of insulation.
- Shutters can be used over external doors help reduce drafts and heat loss.
- Solar powered lights illuminate essential parts of the garden.
- All radiators are fitted with individual thermostatic radiator valves.
- All radiators have been fitted with insulated panels behind to reflect the heat back into the room
- All boilers are regular serviced to ensure maximum efficiency and safety.
- The majority of our laundry is air dried outside saving energy and with the added benefit of the sun performing a natural bleaching action.
- We have a programme of replacing “white” goods with A-rated versions.
- The cottages are still maintained by the same people who helped convert them twelve years ago.
- Wherever possible we use local suppliers, or if necessary national ones whose goods and services do not have a negative environmental impact.
- Our policy includes checking the environmental status of suppliers, using local where possible, seeking greener alternatives and using recycled products where possible.
- We have an ethical buying policy and as far as possible do not knowingly use products from countries with poor human rights and companies that do not behave in a fair and reasonable manner.
- We have reduced personally from two cars to one (a Honda Jazz), which is environmentally acceptable with an average petrol consumption of 50mph.
- When planning journeys we aim to maximize the benefit of the journey identifying additional tasks to undertake at the same time e.g. take recycling, collecting a prescription for a friend or shopping for guests.
- We provide guests with plenty of information on cycle hire, local transport; we can lend them bicycles and provide space in a secure shed for their own cycles.
- We provide guests with suggestions to encourage a car free holiday, with plenty of information on “walks from the door” and “cycling from the door”.
- We take responsibility for maintaining our cottages and our house to high standards and seek to make continuous improvements to make them more energy efficient.
- We use Valtti paint for exterior woodwork and Farrow & Ball internally.
- As new technologies emerge we will investigate their appropriateness for our business, for our Peak Park setting and the environment generally. Examples might include new green energy suppliers and manufacturers. (However, the Peak Park is only slowly encouraging solar panels at present, and wind turbines would not be appropriate in a village setting.)
- We encourage local wildlife in the garden. We have a pond, nesting boxes and bat boxes, and numerous bird feeders. We have group membership of Derbyshire Wildlife for our guests and us. We provide binoculars and information about the local flora and fauna for our guests.
Whatever we do our very first priority is always to do all we can to improve the quality of their time here for all our guests.
We would very much like to hear from you if you have any comments and suggestions on our environmental policy
Last reviewed 7 March 2012 John and Marion Fuller-Sessions