Eco Policy – Background
Here at Borough Farm our environmental practice isn’t something we have bolted on to our business but is deep within the core of our very being. Long before we started our holiday business we were very conscious of our impact on our environment, so developing an environmentally friendly business was second nature to us. Julia began her career as a primary school teacher, one of her favourite story books to get the environmental message across to her young students was a picture book called ‘Dinosaurs and all that Rubbish’. In this story, man leaves his planet because he has destroyed it, travels through space and while he is away, the dinosaurs are revived and clean up the planet, man returns and demands the planet back as it is so beautiful. The dinosaurs and man decide to live together and to take more care of their planet. This powerful story began many a discussion in the classroom about how we should look after our world. Julia became an education advisor at the Natural History Museum and taught in Asia before returning to Devon to study Wildlife photography at Exeter University’s Falmouth campus. Julia’s passion for the natural world is evident across the whole of her business and she loves nothing more than to share that passion with her guests to give them more understanding of the natural world.
Our Eco policy aims to guide us in the impact we have locally, within the community and on a global level.
Eco Policy – The nitty gritty!
As Borough Farm sits on a spring line, we use spring water from our well as much as possible. We harvest rainwater in water buts from the barns around the farmyard to water both our animals and the garden plants. We pump the fresh water from our hot tub and put the water into a butt for irrigating the garden.
We have private cesspits and as the soak away from these systems drains into our land, we are very careful about not putting any strong chemicals into them.
Our yurts are heated with locally sourced wood from the Tamar Valley, as well as logs from our own woods and land, these are seasoned in our barns until dry for our guests to use.
We have a solar panel array on the barn roof which provides energy for our refrigerators, lighting, washing machines, office etc we aim to be carbon neutral with our electricity. We purchase energy from BULB energy provider who maximise their input from reuseables. We use low energy light bulbs in the shower barn and The Granary B and B and rechargeable LED candle lights for
the yurts. Our paths are lit by solar lanterns.
We use Ecover and Method cleaning products for our accommodation, recycled toilet paper and kitchen rolls are provided for our guests. Our laundry is done on site to minimise transport to the launderette and we use Ecover washing powder. Our sheets are air dried on the clothesline in the fresh Devon air so there is no need for environmentally unfriendly tumble driers. We offer a laundry facility for our guests and ask for a donation for charity for its use. This season – 2019 our chosen charity is cancer research. We use old sheets to create cleaning cloths.
The 2019 season has also seen us launch a carbon offset scheme whereby for a £25 donation we will plant a tree on a dedicated area of land on our farm which we have set aside to create a woodland, each tree will have a label dedicating it to the guest who planted it.
In addition to being solar powered we minimise our environmental impact in the office environment as best as possible. We use recycled Printing paper and scraps of paper are re used for notes and memos. We recycle our printing ink cartridges and refill where possible.
Living in this beautiful part of the world we are well aware of how wonderful our local produce is. Much of our produce for our catering needs comes straight from our farm. We rear our own rare breed zwartbles and Devon and Cornwall longwool lamb which is used in our menu. We have the sheepskins tanned locally in Buckfastleigh which make luxurious additions to our accommodation.
Our chickens provide the eggs for breakfast and for our much loved rainy day cakes. Our fruit and vegetable gardens provide produce for our salads, breakfasts and evening meals. We have fresh herb gardens which we encourage our guests to use during their stay here. In June we make our own elderflower cordial, each guest has a bottle of this upon arrival. We collect the fruit and then make blackberry and apple jam in the autumn for our breakfast trays and juice our own apples from the orchard. Our neighbour Granny Martin grows delicious tomatoes for us in late summer.
Our other meat products are purchased from our award-winning butchers – Warrens in Launceston who buy from local farmers. Our Sourdough bread comes from award winning Little Bakehouse Bakery in Launceston. We use Devon tea and local dairy produce as well as Cornish fairing biscuits and locally farmed honey. Andrew creates batches of wonderful home cooked food for our guests using the highest quality local ingredients to give a diverse menu to appeal to all dietary needs.
Each year we nominate a charity to support. Previously we have supported the Devon Air Ambulance, Bloodwise cancer charity, water aid and the Lymphoma society. For the 2019 season we are supporting Cancer Research. So far. we have raised over £500 by taking part in the Winter Run in London this February. We sell bagged horse dung at the end of our farm gate for local gardeners to use in their vegetable and rose beds, this has raised over £40 this year so far. We have a donation scheme in place for use of our “free” laundry facilities in the shower room and for our Devon Yurt postcards. We offer a range of wet suits and surfboards for our guests to
use on a charity donation basis. In December we run Christmas wreath making workshops which raises around £200 for cancer research charities.
Recycle and Reuse
Much of our furnishings and the very body of our buildings are created with recycling in mind. Our Granary B and B has an antique bath, old trestle tables from a nearby chapel are used for dining alongside the chapel pews for the seating. Lloyd loom chairs adorn the yurts as do antique beds. Shelves are created from discarded wood from refurbishing the farmhouse and chalk painted to give a wonderful finish. There is much evidence of using architectural salvage to create the built environment here at Borough Farm too, this farm restoration has been a labour of love and a very organic and fluid development over the years. All the ceramic toilets and Belfast sinks were salvaged items, wood is either sustainably sourced or from salvage yards, the cast iron guttering is salvaged as are many local granite items and containers used in the garden. The new shower house for Great Links yurt was created for the 2019 season with reused materials.
Gardening and Farming
We have been farming at Borough Farm for over 15 years and have always used an ‘organic’ approach to our work here. We do not use pesticides and do not plough our land, we have long lay meadows which encourage a diverse range of plants and insect life. We hoe and chain harrow rather than spray our pathways and use the animal dung and garden cuttings to create our own compost which is in turn used on our own gardens. Our chickens enjoy a free-range outdoor life and our animals are cared for with the highest level of dedication and compassion and the lowest level of antibiotics and routine medications.
We grow our own flowers to decorate our accommodations and there are always blooms to harvest from the gardens and hedgerows, from snowdrops in January right through to dahlias and hydrangeas in the autumn. Granny Martin grows many of the plants we use from seed in her greenhouse and other bedding plants are purchased locally at Endsleigh Gardens in our neighbouring village of Milton Abbot. We use fleece from our sheep which is added to the compost to help with retaining the moisture in our pots. Sharing our gardening practice with our guests is an absolute joy and guests both young and old are always delighted to help feeding the lambs on the bottle, holding a newly hatched chick or just listening to the animals whilst lying in their beds at night.
Waste from our toilets is dealt with on site with cesspits hence we are very careful what is put into our toilet systems and guests are advised on this. We encourage our guests to sort their rubbish into green waste and recyclables and aim to minimise the rubbish which heads to landfill.
One of the joys of coming to Borough Farm is the absolute immersion into nature. It is evident in so many forms from the stunning sunrises over Dartmoor National Park, to the dawn chorus, the awakening of the farm animals and their morning feeding regime through to collecting eggs from the hen house and creating meals from our own farm produce. Alongside the domestic and farmed life are the badgers, foxes, hedgehogs, rabbits, deer and bats which share this corner of the world with us. We have nature journals for guests to write in and bird and plant identification books for guests to learn more about the natural flora and fauna. Great joy is had by watching the birds visiting the feeders outside each unit, we have seen an increase in the variety of bird life visiting the farm since the addition of these feeders. We have recently added star gazing books and more information on the night sky as we are in a ‘dark sky’ area, this helps to show our guests that we are part of a much larger system than simply our own planet.
During our time at Borough Farm we have not only sympathetically restored the old farm buildings but also planted numerous trees and created wildlife areas and ponds, we aim to continue with this work, this season already, we have planted wildflower borders on the path leading to Great Links yurt, we will continue with our tree planting and managing the woodland at the entrance to
Borough farm. Looking to the future we aim to link up with the Devon Wildlife Trust to gain further advice as to promoting wildlife within the farm and providing further education for our guests, we would also like to twin our toilet with a developing country to create a link to a community abroad