Award judge Kate Lewis from Triodos, the ethical bank sponsoring the sustainability category, said: "Wheatland Farm provides an excellent example of how tourism can be a benefit rather than a burden. The care taken in 'rescuing' a precious corner of Devon's countryside is mirrored in the efforts made to provide visitors with an enjoyable holiday that reconnects them with the natural world, and how we can live in harmony with it."
But Ian is quick not to take all the credit, saying "It's a collaborative effort, and we're really grateful for all the help we've had. We couldn't do it without Fiona Marshall and Andrew Roberts who farm at Higher Punchardon just up the road. Their cows graze our culm grassland in the summer. And all winter we've had volunteers from the World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms scheme, who have helped reach the bits heavy machinery can't. We've also had investment through the government's Higher Level Stewardship, which has really moved things forward faster than we were able to on our own."
Maggie adds, "We've just had our best ever January for bookings. We're just a pocket handkerchief patch really, and we focus on the wildlife. But larger farms with a holiday cottage or two could see the same returns from their own wildlife while still producing food. There's lots of people out there who can advise you - or maybe just give us a ring and come and see what we're doing. We all want to look after the countryside, but the way things are right now it's certainly good to know it can help the bottom line too."
Wheatland Farm is no stranger to awards. Last year Maggie and Ian won gold for sustainable tourism in the Visit Devon awards, and Low Carbon Business in the Devon Environmental Business Initiative awards. And they hold gold approval from both the Devon Wildlife Trust and the Green Tourism Business Scheme.
NOTES FOR EDITORS
Wheatland Farm Eco Lodges and Cottage http://www.wheatlandfarm.co.uk
Ian Ripper and Maggie Watson 07780 708 747 or 01837 83499.
Wheatland Farm welcomes visits from other farms, businesses or individuals, to see the11kW Gaia Wind Turbine or talk about wildlife and sustainability strategies.
Wheatland Farm gratefully acknowledges support from the Devon Wildlife Trust and the Higher Level Stewardship Scheme.
Thanks go to Triodos Bank for sponsoring the award.
High resolution photos available on request.
Devon self catering cottage and eco lodges
home t. 01837 83499, email email@example.com, Wheatland Farm, Winkleigh, Devon, EX19 8DJ.
Low impact farm holidays are big hit at South West regional tourism awards
Wheatland Farm Eco Lodges near Winkleigh, Devon, is celebrating a top regional 'sustainability' award. Its low carbon accommodation has just won gold for sustainable tourism in the South West Tourism Excellence Awards.
Owner Maggie Watson said, "I think it's how we combine energy reduction and production that impressed the judges. We've slashed energy use by 73% compared to projections from 5 years ago. And now we're net energy producers, because our 11kW wind turbine is generating more than the business uses."
"But it's not just energy and cost cutting, it's about showing how looking after Devon's wildlife pleases the visitors, but also turns a profit."
The 21 acre farm has a 7 acre nationally-recognised nature reserve, Popehouse Moor Site of Special Scientific Interest, where Maggie and husband Ian Ripper have been working hard to restore traditional grazing, remove invading scrub and lay hedges.