Creating eco friendly holiday cottages that guests will love has always been our priority.
When we moved to Norfolk to set up Mill Farm Eco Barn we were really clear about one thing: that we wanted to run eco friendly holiday cottages. A business that had the smallest possible impact on the natural environment but was also an amazing and comfortable place to stay. We live in such a precious area, just outside the Broads National Park and within walking distance to National Nature Reserves, so wanted to show that it’s possible to offer eco-friendly but stylish holiday cottages.
This blog outlines both what we are currently doing and what we strive to do in the future. I am proud of our achievements so far but am determined to do more. I know that the issue of climate change has become far more serious since I studied it some 25 years ago. Unfortunately, being eco-friendly doesn’t come without challenges, and despite the fact we are the site of a former mill, to implement a small wind turbine which would produce all the energy we need and more, we’ve been met with a lot of red tape, let alone cost. We shall persist!
The United Nations now tell us we have a mere 12 years to halt climate meltdown. There are many businesses like mine that are trying to reduce their impact and as individuals we can all make changes to our lives in order to reduce our own carbon footprint. I do desperately hope though, that the future sees more radical political leadership on this issue. Questions like ‘Why do we still not have decent, affordable public transport outside of London?’ leave me feeling enraged at the lack of leadership to date.
Eco friendly holiday cottages have to reduce their climactic impact, how do we do this at Mill Farm Eco Barn?
The first task when we began our conversion, was to address how we were going to heat and power the barns and our house next door. The idea that we would install an oil boiler was out of the question. In the end we opted for a wood burning pellet boiler along with energy efficient appliances and light fittings. Our electricity is supplied on a green tariff plus on- site photo voltaic, which means we use 100% renewables to power our barns and house. We encourage car free days out, supply bikes on site and offer 10% off the list price if all guests arrive on public transport. This week I shifted my website to a UK carbon neural web hosting company Ecohosting.
Next steps: We need to move to electric cars (have you seen how much they cost?) and in our personal lives we are reducing the amount we drive, which is challenging in a rural location. We would also like to provide charging points for guests’ cars. I’d like to think our wind turbine is possible too within the next couple of years.
We are in a low rainfall area so reducing water consumption is important
We collect water from the barn roofs to flush toilets and washing machines. We also use this rainwater to water plants and fill our new wildlife pond. All taps are reduced flow without compromising user experience. The drinking water is on mains, of course.
Plastic and waste
Plastic is a hot topic at the moment and while we’re working towards being totally plastic free, we’re very careful with our current usage.
We provide recycling and composting facilities for all our guests and we reduce our plastic use by using eco-friendly cleaning products which I buy in bulk and then re-use and refill.
Nature and biodiversity in our eco friendly holiday cottages
We are on the edge of the Broads National Park and can walk to an Area of Outstanding National Beauty from the barns. When we moved here, our 2-acre site was barren and did little to support the local bird populations and biodiversity. Since moving we have planted over 40 fruit trees and a 1km of hedgerow around the entire site – that’s over 1500 saplings! The paddocks are now managed for wildlife with the restored wildlife pond too. We have nesting swallows every year, have put up bird boxes including a kestrel box and a swift box went up this weekend. We have loved watching the local birdlife flourish on site and it’s fantastic for our kids to see.
As well as supplying guests with local jams, eggs, bread and cake on arrival, we also have a guest’s allotment for guests to pick their own herbs and vegetables. I provide as much information as possible to encourage our guests to buy form local independent shops and growers too as we have an abundance in the area! You can find out more about them in my blog on local food.
Contributing to Winterton-on-sea
Our holiday home business is based in Winterton-On-Sea and we wanted to contribute to the village and local community. Since moving here I have served on the parish council and was briefly a school governor. We also spearheaded the campaign to transform the children’s play area, this was a huge village effort raising over £35,000 in total. My husband Neil sits on the parish neighbourhood plan Steering Group and we also put in a footpath for villagers to use linking the village to the farm safely and a popular circular walking route around the village.
Despite our eco efforts, we’ve managed to maintain a sense of luxury and style in both barns. Many guests don’t even notice a difference to their usual non-eco break and that’s wonderful to watch.
For those that are interested and looking for tips for their own home, we would be more than happy to take you on a little tour and talk birds or biomass boilers! Meanwhile I’m working on how I can work with others to improve the eco footprint of our local area.
Want to see for yourselves and stay in our Eco Friendly holiday cottages?
Fancy coming to stay? You can book with us directly here.