We are committed to continuing and developing good environmental
practice at Heath Farm Holiday Cottages.
In 2008 we joined the Green Tourism Business Scheme to learn more about what we could do and to spread awareness of more sustainable practices in daily life as well as within tourism. In the first year we were awarded a bronze in recognition of existing commitment to local skills, products and conservation. In our next inspections in 2010 and 2012 we were awarded with a silver grading. Since 2014 we were delighted to have been awarded Gold and have been awarded that ever since! We are pleased our visitors also appreciate our efforts.
There are various small steps we can all take such as the replacement to LED lights, using recycling and composting facilities to try and reduce our impact on the environment. We hope you will enjoy exploring what Heath Farm and our local area has to offer in terms of walks, rides, farmers markets and farm shops, local crafts and attractions.
Excellence in Conservation
David and Nena had always been interested in improving the ecology and environment of the farm and in the late 70’s began a long term programme to improve wild life habitats. Several ponds were created and every year trees were planted to fill in odd field corners and on unproductive land. After the decision to sell off most of the land had been taken a rapid expansion of environmental work was undertaken on the remaining 70 acres. A major tree planting programme was started which has resulted in nearly all the land having some sort of tree cover.
The ongoing commitment to planting trees, creating habitats for wildlife and supporting local crafts continues today. Guests can enjoy beautiful flower meadows, orchard and woodlands.
David has undertaken a huge amount of conservation work for the benefit of everything from butterflies, bats, hares, Roe Deer, Muntjac, Badger, Fox, Mink, Rabbits, Stoats, Weasels, Field Voles, Moles and of course Squirrels. The farm throngs with wildlife and is a joy to visit.
- Hosted a Woodland Group Workshop Day with demonstrations and talks about the use of hazel coppice for thatching, fencing and hurdle making as well as for the production of pea-sticks and bean poles.
- Made charcoal using traditional methods (as part of above workshop day) which will be used for our guests’ summer barbecues.
- Hosted various local school and charity visits.
- We have continued to manage and maintain the woodlands and sell firewood and pea sticks. We also supply hazel stakes and binders to local hedge layers, and other local crafts people.
The Woodland & Maintaining Bio-diversity
The farm aims to create and maintain biodiversity and wildlife.
Around 50,000 trees and shrubs have been planted of about 60 different species most of them native. The objective in managing most of the forestry is to produce quality sawlogs. The principal species being Ash, Oak, Beech, Sweet Chestnut, Hornbeam and Cherry. We endeavour to high prune the best specimens to achieve a tall knot free trunk. Along with this we aim to provide as wide a diversity as possible of wildlife habitats by planting shrubs and low growing trees around the plantation margins as this is where most animals like to live. We also try to leave wide rides around the plantations. Along with the tree planting two wildflower meadows have been created. A small area of woodland beside the entrance drive has been underplanted with woodland species of wildflowers. These are all now well established, produce an abundance of colour during the season, and attract large numbers of butterflies.
Since nuts had always been a consuming interest for David, in 1990 an acre of hazelnuts was planted along with about 200 walnut and chestnut trees. These trees are now beginning to crop well and David enjoys selling the produce at Farmers Markets in the autumn. He has even gone as far as to take walnut and hazelnut kernels to France to get them pressed for oil, which he also sells. A further 80 hazels and some walnuts were planted in 2008 to extend the nut orchard. A millennium nut collection was also planted in 2000 which contains all the species which might possibly produce nuts in our climate. Included are unlikely species such as Ginko Biloba and Monkey puzzle. Also planted in 2000 was 5 acres of hazel for coppicing, that is to produce long straight sticks for a variety of uses such as hurdle making and hedge laying. This is probably the first planting of hazel coppice on any scale in Oxfordshire for at least 100 years. The objective here is to try and preserve and protect local coppicing skills, to provide some rural employment, and also to evolve habitats for wildlife.
Biomass & Solar Panels
In a drive to use as many renewable energy sources as possible we have replaced our high efficiency oil fuelled boiler with a new wood pellet boiler which provides all the hot water and heating needs of the cottages. We have increased lagging on hot water pipes and tanks and have turned down thermostats when the cottages are not occupied as advised. We installed solar panels in 2012 to reduce our reliance on the national grid. The power generated substantially contributes to the electricity demands of the cottages.
The eco-laundry is a purpose-built communal laundry. We have replaced washing machines with more energy and water efficient models. All detergents where possible are eco-friendly and purchased from conscientious suppliers. Cleaning cloths & sponges cleaned to reduce wasteful disposal. We extensively use of Vinegar & Soda crystals for cleaning rather than more harmful alternatives.We encourage guests to use drying lines where possible and provide info for most efficient use of machines for customers.
We buy and supply the cottages with environmentally friendly washing up liquid, dishwasher tablets, hand soap, bathroom and toilet cleaners & washing powder from the Ecover & BIO D range of green products which are bought in bulk and decanted into suitable existing containers. These are purchased through Ethical Superstore and & Natural Collection. We use recycled toilet paper in the cottages and other recycled paper products when we can source them. We also use vinegar and soda crystals to minimise detergent use.
Our complimentary toiletries are the Faith In Nature range, who believe that using naturally derived, cruelty-free sources is what makes their products work so beautifully. They do not contain parabens, phthalates or artificial colours and are SLS free. They are made in Britain, naturally.
Where possible we buy British and we purchase from small, ethical shops. We use John Lewis for many of the white goods and furnishings because the Partnership is owned in trust for its members, they share the responsibilities of ownership as well as its rewards profit, knowledge and power and as such have far better environmental credits than other large competitors.
For those food items that cannot be sourced locally like coffee, we purchase FAIRTRADE branded items.
Recycling & Composting
Recycling and composting facilities are available on-site.
Each of the cottages is equipped with a food waste caddy bin. Please put all food waste including meat into it. All food waste will go into our green cones which process everything including raw and cooked food waste.
The family also has composting facilities. All compost is used to help feed our garden and polytunnel.
Recycling is encouraged and anything (including “flyaway” plastic i.e. carrier bags and outer packaging) that can be recycled will be. We pride ourselves on dedicating the time into responsible recycling and maintaining our environment.