Last year we were over the moon to receive the coveted David Bellamy Gold Award for Conservation for the 10th year running (read our blog from last year) so we had a lot to live up to this year! To receive the award we have to demonstrate our commitment to the environment, ecological management and sustainability among others. We prepared a portfolio to show the assessor and thought we’d share some of this with you here:
- There has been a considerable amount of planting around and near the blocks in Fields 2 and 4, partially to enhance the area but also the use of colourful annuals to attract bees and butterflies. Of course we still have our wild areas that are left to flower that do the same.
- Last year we had a customer stay who is an ex treasurer of the Cornwall Butterfly Conservation Society who kindly did an unofficial butterfly count during his stay. It is encouraging to see we have a mix of the very common and not so common varieties for our area (www.devon-butterflies.org.uk/pgbflies.html). The not so common species being the dark green fritillary, small skipper and small copper. The most common, the meadow brown was the most widespread and abundant species in the 2013 Wider Countryside Butterfly survey. The findings are as follows:
Meadow Brown 100+
Green Veined White 30+
Gate Keeper 20+
Small White 8
Small Copper 5
Speckled Wood 3
Large White 2
Small Skipper 2
Red Admiral 2
Dark Green Fritillary 1
- The nature trail that is in the woodland walk has been redesigned with new clues. By following these clues guests have to look for letters which have been positioned around the walk. These letters have been made either by either recycling items or using natural materials. For example the letter M is made from a metal seat frame and the Y is made from willow sticks bound by willow bark.
- In January 2014 Ilfracombe swimming pool sprung a leak and has been closed for repair ever since then. Stowford Farm Meadows was able to step in at short notice and accommodate Ilfracombe Junior and Infant schools, Croyde Life Saving Club and Ilfracombe Swimming Club for their sessions alongside our resident swimming clubs and winter school groups (read our blog about this). The pool at Ilfracombe will not be open until 2015 at the earliest and so Ilfracombe Swimming Club have continued with their sessions at Stowford. We also have the West Exmoor Federation Schools booked for this coming winter and the North Devon Scouts will holding their swimming gala at Stowford in November.
- The school children from Berrynarbor arrived for their annual September camping trip and we are expecting Ilfracombe Juniors later in July again after last years successful camping trip.
- Work has continued on the biomass system extending it out to the amenity blocks in Fields 2 and 4. Trenches were dug for the pipes across the top corner of Field 2 and then across to the block in Field 4. A lobby has been added to Field 2’s block to house the boiler which has been fitted with buffer doors to reduce any heat loss. Please see the additional information titled “Stowfords Sustainable Heat Centre”. Whilst working on the trenches in Field 2 underground drainage channels were dug from the bottom corner of the seasonal field in Gutter Close along the outside edge of Field 2. Also the taps on the water points on this field have all been replaced.
- The shower block in Field 4 has undergone a major refurbishment and extension in conjunction with the biomass installation. A new laundry room, dish washing area and disabled shower room have been built in the new extension. The original block has been gutted and fitted with new toilets and showers complete with under floor heating, plus a hair drying and vanity area. This block also has a lobby with buffer doors to house the boiler and the roof space has had new installation installed.
- Stowford Farm shop continues to source and stock local products. New suppliers include the Buttermilk Confectionery Co from Wadebridge, West Country Liquers and beers from the Wizard brewery in Ilfracombe and the Big Sheep brewery at Bideford.
Something that has been introduced since our David Bellamy inspection is the Food Waster Composter:
Along with already recycling cardboard, paper, glass, plastic, tins and cans we now recycle our commercial food waste using a composter.
We now compost kitchen waste (foods past their sell by date, cuttings and peelings, plate scrapings) and garden waste (grass clippings, weeds, cuttings, horse manure) as well as brown waste (shredded paper, woodchips, sawdust, dead leaves and straw)
Sending commercial food waste to landfill is unnecessary and costly so recycling and re-using it on-site is very beneficial. The composter we are using (picutured below) is very eco-friendly and requires no form of power.
It takes just a couple of weeks for waste food to be composted resulting in moist and nutrient rich compost, which is far richer than normal soil and a haven for our plant life – win win!