Gold Standard Green Tourism at The Cottages at Blackadon Farm

When we became stewards of the farm in November 2019, we realised that we were living in such a special place. Some say Devon is Heaven and it is – especially on Dartmoor National Park where we’re located.

Rather than hide our approach to sustainability in website small print, we’re proud of our efforts, so placing all of our related policies right here on our popular blog which can also be reached from the Our place section of the website. Visit Plymouth has also posted a blog about our achievements. DCW provided all of our outside furniture that’s made from recycled bottles and they use us a case study too.

The Green Tourism assessment gave us us a Gold rating. The assessor feedback mentioned that we have achieved one of the highest scores for a first time assessment and our personal commitment to sustainability and the business was clear to see. Tripadvisor has given us Gold status in their Green Leader’s scheme too (there’s a special logo for that at the end of this blog).

Being green can feel luxurious! We’ve found a great balance between that and being responsible. Our vision is to bring tourists to Devon to support our economy, helping them create memories whilst seeing this beautiful place in a responsible, sustainable way.

For us, being green encompasses biodiversity and nature, recycling, energy, safe and secure cleaning, procurement, modern slavery, equality, diversity and inclusion, and health & safety.

Read on. These policies make you feel warm and fuzzy. Staying with us means staying in a place that’s doing the right thing for our people and planet.

We’d also love to hear your views on green tourism and being sustainability. Here’s a short survey you can complete to help shape our future thinking on this important subject.

The Cottages at Blackadon Farm – Sustainability Statement and Policies
We are committed to protecting and enhancing our wonderful surroundings and our environment. Sustainability is a top priority for us at Blackadon and it has been since we became stewards of this beautiful place late in 2019. We have made many improvements.

We aim to conserve and enhance the beauty and the bio-diversity of this wonderful landscape and to keep working on improving day-to-day practices and policies to enhance sustainability and the responsible usage of resources. We continuously aspire to reduce our carbon footprint and hope that our activities might encourage and inspire our visitors. We know that sustainable tourism protects the environment, supports local communities, conserves resources, minimises pollution and protects the planet for future generations.

We continuously evaluate our progress, taking feedback from guests and other stakeholders on any actions we may be able to take to reduce our carbon footprint. We constantly looking at innovative methods of improving our environmental awareness and that of our guests and we always comply with requirements of legislation and approved codes of practice.

Sustaining biodiversity and nature

Blackadon is a wonderful place with many mature trees, a range of habitats and is rich in birds and wildlife. We are actively working to enhance its potential to support biodiversity and nature and encourage our guests to appreciate the environment.

• We manage the gardens and woodlands organically as we believe that biodiversity starts with micro-organisms and soil health
• We leave standing deadwood and branch cuttings in wooded areas to provide habitat for insects and ground nesting birds
• We put up additional bird boxes each year and are glad to attract owls and all manner of birds including house martens who nest for the summer on the eaves of the farmhouse, and sparrows nesting in the eaves of the cottages
• We maintain a small natural pond which supports a large number of frogs and toads and newts and has attracted the interest of wild ducks. We’ve create a detour for water coming off the moor so it goes into our pond rather than drains
• We consider pollinators when purchasing new plants, particularly trying to ensure we have flowers that are blooming at difficult times for these insects
• We encourage the enjoyment of nature and wildlife by guests visiting Blackadon. There is a bird identification poster in each cottage and young guests receive educational animal, bird and plant spotting kits – they can also take part in pop-up nature based craft activities during school holidays

Recycling Resources

We try to keep refuse to a minimum and encourage guests to recycle whatever is possible including paper, cartons, cardboard, tins, plastic and glass bottles, plastic bottle tops, plastic bags, coat hangers, foil and batteries.

We use water butts to recycle rainwater for the grounds.

Our water supply is from a borehole which collects water from Dartmoor. It’s better than many bottled spring waters and means we don’t need to use the scares resources of South West water.

Stationery, toilet paper, kitchen roll etc is made from recycled paper (100% or as near as we can get to it) or from sustainable sources.

We aspire to run a paperless operation and most administrative work and communication with guests is completed online / digitally, to save paper.

We replaced all wooden garden furniture with plastic alternatives sourced from a local firm. This new furniture is made from recycled bottles used in Devon. The wooden garden furniture was donated to our local pub and upcycled by them.

When we renovated, our furniture was donated to Visit Devon, who used the items to furnish three, six bedroom safe houses.

Cleaning sustainably

Environmentally friendly cleaning products are used wherever possible whilst meeting COVID secure cleaning standards. We also use recycled fabrics as cleaning cloths.

66% of our housekeeping team live in the local area and walk to work.

Using energy sustainably
We do whatever we can to reduce energy consumption / utilise sustainable energy sources, including:

Our electricity supplier is E.On and get 100% renewable electricity sourced from E.ON’s renewable generation assets, supply agreements with independent UK wind generators and the purchase of renewable electricity certificates.

We have solar tubes for heating the water at the Farmhouse which reduces our oil consumption.

We have a 4KW Solar PV system and generate electricity for export back to the grid.

Ovens, washing machines and dryers are “A” or “B” rated for energy efficiency.

We replaced the energy inefficient fridge-freezers in all properties with a more efficient ones and replaced the washing machine in the guest laundry.

We have installed thermostatic valves on radiators, sensors on lights in a number of external and internal areas to reduce our energy use. We have also installed LED low-energy lights across all the properties. Our 10 bedroom cottage also has a special heat exchange system which reduces energy use.

We replaced all lighting in the holiday cottages with LED lighting. LED light bulbs use less than 20% of the electricity of a conventional lightbulb. We also installed motion sensitive outdoor lights in the Courtyard, some entrance porches and the passageway as we were finding some guests would turn them on arrival then forget to turn them off again (2020).

We continue to research installation of further Solar PV systems and heating systems.

When we renovated, we improved the energy efficiency of the buildings by putting in wall and ceiling insulation, and double glazing.

Furnishings like beds and sofas have all be made in England, supporting the local economy and limiting our carbon footprint. Kitchens come from sustainably managed forests and certified by the Forest Stewardship Council standards.

Sustainable procurement
Mindful of our commitment to sustainability and the local community, wherever possible, we work with partner businesses within a 25 mile radius even when this may not be financially preferable for the business.

We bank with the Co-op (the only bank to have what we view as having a proper ethical policy).

Invoices are paid within 24 hours.

Our approach to Modern Slavery
We strictly prohibit the use of modern slavery and human trafficking in our operations and supply chain. As a small business we commit to ensuring that modern slavery is not taking place anywhere within our organisation or in any of our supply chains. We expect that our suppliers will hold their own suppliers to the same high standards.

We pay above the living wage.

Our approach to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion
We’re proud to offer our guests and employees an experience at Blackadon which is based on respect and inclusion. We have a warm welcome for everyone irrespective of their unique characteristics and we aspire to ensure everyone can enjoy our beautiful properties and location. We’re a same-sex couple and so we know how important it is to feel relaxed, supported and not judged. Some of the actions we have undertaken to build an inclusive business include:

  • Fully adapted bathroom in The Great Barn Upper to enable guests with additional mobility requirements to have the facilities they need
  • Gay friendly accommodation provider via
  • Special orientation pack for autistic guests who needed a little extra support
  • Proactively sourced business from minority groups to include Lesbian Walking Holidays, Single Parent Holidays and Muslim Women’s Empowerment Retreats
  • Introducing our guests to The Ivybridge Brewing Company, an innovative local charity which provides disabled local people meaningful work and development

ED&I is not only a pillar of our business from an ethical perspective, it’s also essential business sense.

Our approach to Health & Safety
We commit to:

  • provide adequate control of the health and safety risks arising from our work activities;
  • consult with our employees on matters affecting their health and safety;
  • provide and maintain safe plant and equipment;
  • ensure safe handling and use of substances;
  • to provide information, instruction and supervision for employees;
  • ensure all employees are competent to do their tasks, and to give them adequate training;
  • first aid kits and equipment such as fire blankets and extinguishers are in all cottages
  • prevent accidents and cases of work-related ill health;
  • maintain safe and healthy working conditions;
  • review and revise this policy as necessary at regular intervals
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