We are serious about making your stay as enjoyable and relaxing as we can but equally about making it as sustainable and green as possible. There is no contradiction in having both aims.
Being grandparents, we want to do our bit to minimise the damage we inflict on the planet for future generations - sounds a bit pompous perhaps, but we helped make the mess, so we have to help clear it up!.
In planning and managing Drovers Retreat we have looked at all our inputs and outputs, and tried to minimise the environmental impact of them all, as much as possible. We don’t think this is at odds with our guests’ enjoyment of their stay. Indeed we think it enhances it.
In May 2019 we were awarded a Silver Award by Green Tourism,
So what have we done?
The building is very well insulated, having only recently been converted from a stone barn. This means that it keeps warm in winter, and cool in summer, which has to be a good thing. The energy used in heating it is reduced, making it cosy, but with a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
All our energy is carbon neutral - renewable green electricity plus our own firewood from the farm for the log burner - and you can’t beat the warmth from a log burner! We get our 100% renewably generated electricity from Bulb. If you’d like to change to Bulb’s green electricity, use this link to get a quote, and a £50 welcome credit to your account if you sign up (we too get a credit for referring you).
We have considered other forms such as ground source and solar, but there are particular problems which make these impractical.
Water is from our own spring, and is treated with UV and a physical filter as it enters the building. Why bother buying water in plastic bottles whist you are here - just bring a re-usable bottle, fill it from the tap and save money! We happen to think that our spring water is as good as any you will buy in a bottle, so make the most of it!
All the cleaning materials we use are as environmentally as friendly as we can make them, whist still doing the job. They actually smell rather nicer too, without the synthetic aromas. For example, we have found that Citric acid - found in citrus fruits - does a great cleaning job, especially in places like our vintage butler’s sink. This means that we don’t use bleach, which damages the delicate balance of our septic tank, and is harmful to the environment.
We have set up a small shop, based on some locally produced frozen meals for guests who do not want to cook from scratch. Having run an organic food business from the farm, we are keen on reducing ‘Food Miles’, so sourcing local food is important.
We list local shops in our Guests’ Guide, which includes a shop in Knighton, ‘The Old Garage’ at the top of the town, which stocks produce from their own local market garden. Mick and Alice grow vegetables which are sold in their shop - along with a huge range of sustainably sourced products, including chocolate and alcohol! You can also order a vegetable box through their website.
You will have seen that we make a point of offering clearly marked recycling bins. Although we are limited to what Powys County Council will recycle, our landfill waste is normally tiny compared to that which is recycled.
We have biodegradable bags for items such as food and dog poo, which can break down in wild areas around the farm.
Because we are ‘Beyond the Mains’ for water and sewage, our septic tank must dispose of wastes efficiently. However, it does depend on nothing harmful to its hard-working bacteria which break down the waste being flushed into the tank.
We have experienced life in developing countiries, having lived and worked in Africa and elsewhere. That is why we have twinned the Drovers Retreat toilet with one in Uganda. This means a toilet has been built where there was not one before, which has to be good see https://www.toilettwinning.org/.
Our toilet paper also has benefits. ‘Who Gives a Crap’ is a brand of toilet paper which is from 100% recycled paper and also gives 50% of its profits to build more toilets in the developing world - see their website. If you order through this link you also get £5 off your first order.
Drovers Retreat was originally a cattle shed for Graig Farm, possibly a dairy. When we arrived in 1988, we were only the fifth family to live and work at Graig Farm since at least 1840. We feel a strong sense of responsibility in ensuring the farm is passed on after us in at least as good condition as we found it.
Although a small farm now at 22 acres, it has in the past been as large as 250 acres. We reared non-intensive poultry and well as sheep and cattle which were kept on the pasture and farmed organically. The farm therefore has seen no chemical sprays or artificial fertilisers since 1988. This means using natural systems, including manure, to produce plant food, and fewer numbers of animals in the pastures, and by not using intensive farming techniques such as nitrogen fertiliser (which can cause environmental damage). This enables the animals’ own immune systems to avoid health problems. Of course, if animals are sick, another principle of organic farming is that they must be treated, but drugs cannot be given as a prophylactic, or precautionary measure.
Without pesticides, the insect population can grow, and with them predators such as birds, which enables a greater flourishing of wildlife.