A growing number of businesses and companies in the Tamar Valley are recognising the potential of working sustainably, profiting both people and the environment. Many members of the Tamar Valley Tourism Association have already started to lead the way in making the valley greener.
A version of this article was first published in the Tamar Valley AONB's Spring/Summer 2009 newsletter, and is reproduced with their kind permission.
People often forget that everything is interconnected. The economy is dependent on the environment, and vice versa – particularly in this part of the world. Looking globally, if we all do everything we can locally, the cumulative effect will be dramatic and beneficial, and the environment may recover. Do nothing, and environmental problems won’t just continue, they will get worse.
There is a sense of urgency about the objective of putting the environment at the front the agenda for businesses in the valley: for hard-headed business rationale, as well as for those who want to nurture nature. Ultimately, the benefits work for everyone and everything.
Looking after the environment
Several members of the Tamar Valley Tourism Association have put considerable effort into becoming more sustainable. Kingsmill Farm holiday cottage at Landulph is one of many of our members to have won awards for good environmental practice. “The changes we made have enhanced biodiversity, and reduced energy and water consumption” said Valerie Taplin, who runs the self-catering cottage set in a nature haven on the farm. Water consumption has been reduced by 56% and electricity by 20%, saving three tonnes of CO2 per annum. Waste to landfill has been reduced by over 75% by increasing recycling and composting green waste.
Biodiversity has been enhanced by adopting organic principles and creating new habitats: a freshwater lake and wildflower meadow. Woodland areas have been left undisturbed and there has been a huge increase in birds and other wildlife including deer, badgers, stoats, kestrels, kingfishers, and tawny owls since Valerie started the project.
“We chat enthusiastically with visitors about the benefits of composting, and several have said they would start their own heaps when they got home” says Valerie. The plans don’t stop there. In the future Valerie hopes to include rainwater harvesting, growing more food, installing a well or borehole, and possibly photovoltaic panels.
Giving a flavour of the area
Another accommodation provider in the valley, Rezare Farmhouse B&B, has also taken steps to become as green as they can, while still providing all the services and quality that visitors would expect from a B&B.
“Being green boils down to running our business sustainably. The word ‘sustainable’ conjures up different connotations for different people; for us, it means acting in a way that helps to ensure the continued survival of the community and environment that supports us, so that it can be enjoyed by future generations.” said Anthony Manning of Rezare Farmhouse. “Our breakfast and evening meal menus make extensive use of the many excellent local producers of meat, fish, dairy, and fruit and vegetables. As well as high quality Cornish beers and ciders, our drinks menu features only award-winning wine produced in either Cornwall or Devon. Limiting the choice in this way gives guests a true flavour of the area they are visiting.”
Anthony, and his wife Nanette, are proud to have also won awards for their efforts. In preparation for a visit from the Green Tourism Business Scheme (GTBS), they started to measure the amount of waste they were producing. “We realised that the fresh oranges we were squeezing for breakfast were creating over 20kg of waste a week. This couldn’t all be composted, and so most was being sent to landfill. This simple measurement forced us to find an alternative breakfast juice, and we soon found the perfect product in pure Tamar Valley apple juice, produced by Greenbank Apples just a little way down the valley.”
“Last autumn we took 200kg of apples from our trees, for Greenbank to press and bottle. The resulting juice will provide for four or five months’ worth of breakfasts.
Sourcing local produce
In Callington, Langmans Restaurant has been going for thirteen years, and strives to find the very best local ingredients for their high quality cuisine, while adopting sustainable working practices in other areas of the business too. Owners Gail and Anton Buttery, have won many awards and accolades over the years, including consistently achieving 2 AA rosettes and twice winner of Cornwall Tourist Board’s Restaurant of the Year.
“We both believe attention to detail in everything we do is essential to maintain high business standards. This is also our approach to sustainability. We support local food producers wherever possible to minimise food miles. This means only Cornish beef appears on our Tasting Menu, fresh local fish, Cornish dairy products, Tamar Valley apple juice and Cornish mineral water. We return glass bottles to the latter two suppliers for recycling.” Gail told The Valley.
“Through careful management and use of water saving devices, there has been a 30% reduction of water consumption over the previous restaurant owners. This, together with use of energy saving lights where appropriate, has had a positive impact on the utility costs.”
Encouraging greater biodiversity
Further south in the AONB, Notter Mill Country Park near Saltash has held the David Bellamy Gold Award since 2003. The title is awarded to sites who have increased the number of native plants and animals, reduced pollution and encouraged local sustainability, which is exactly what Ray and Celia Hall have continued to do since they took over the Park in November 2007.
“Although maintaining the standard is hard work, we have help from an annual assessment to identify our main priorities and this is of course also a challenge. To keep us moving forward we are now increasing our planting of nectar-rich and colourful flowers and shrubs to help the insect life, as well as developing wildflower meadows and conservation areas. We are also adding even more bird boxes and feeders, and investing in a more efficient heating system for the outdoor swimming pool.” Ray explained.
“We like the Bellamy Scheme because it is good for the planet and also helps us to develop a more pleasant and diverse environment for our guests to enjoy,” said Celia. “Part of that, is providing information boards for all our guests on what we are doing for conservation and biodiversity.”