We aim to create great holidays with a low carbon footprint at the same time ensuring a fun and enjoyable experience for our guests; we think of this as "treading softly" - you'll see what we mean when you stay. It's not about preaching but recognising the beauty of our surroundings and trying to do our small bit to keep things that way! We're delighted that our efforts have been recognised with the award of a Suffolk Carbon Charter Gold Award - this is given to companies that, like us, are monitoring and reducing their carbon emissions and provides public recognition of the steps we are taking towards the shared goal of creating the greenest county in Suffolk. And in 2015 we won the Suffolk Greenest County Sustainable Tourism Award! Most recently, we have been awarded a "Plan for the Future" grant from East Suffolk District Council, which has enabled us to burnish our green credentials still further, with solar panels and battery storage, electric vehicle charging and two new electric bikes to borrow! We want to help you to have the "greenest" holiday possible and with no fossil fuels being used on-site and our offer to pick you up from the nearby train station (as well as a "Green Travel" discount), we think you can sleep easy in the new Barn @ Ivy Grange Farm!
What does this mean in reality?
Wildlife: there is an abundance of wildlife around and we try to manage the meadow and our own garden (5 acres in total) to encourage diversity. This means that we do things bit by bit rather than all at once, so for instance, half the hedge will be cut one year and half the next, to ensure that the farmland birds have what they need in order to nest and feed their young. Our hedges are ancient and provide a perfect habitat for the farmland and foraging birds which are under threat elsewhere - expect to hear and see skylarks and yellowhammers as well as song thrushes and the more usual tits, wrens and blackbirds. Sections of the grass in the meadow get cut at the end of the season which creates a good habitat for short-tailed voles which is just what barn owls like to eat; we have put up a barn owl nesting box and we're hopeful! A new "scrape" (shallow pond) provides habitat for dragonflies and newts as well as water and nesting material for swallows that nest around the barn. Bats use the fields at dusk, so the lighting is kept low so as not to disturb them and we have a bat nesting box on one of our ash tree; watch out too for hares, deer and hedgehogs. We're members of the Suffolk Wildlife Trust Nature Network and are learning all the time, so we love to get your input and hear about what you've seen during your stay. We've just joined the Hedgehog Street survey, so we're particularly keen to hear about hedgehog sightings! Support from the Sicon Foundation has enabled us to create a "wild orchard" in the lower part of the meadow, with 14 new trees chosen for their flowering and fruiting times, to provide a good long season for nectar, pollen and fruit for a range of wildlife.
Energy: We have an array of 24 solar pv panels which help to power everything electric within The Barn; we use solar thermal panels to heat water, supported by an environmentally-friendly wood-pellet boiler. As part of the conversion work on the barn, we installed an additional layer of insulation to all of the external walls (using recycled plastic bottles!), to keep things nice and snug. All the lights in the barn are LED which means they use very little electricity and we make use of solar lights throughout the site (which look beautiful in the evening too).
Water: this is an important resource in East Anglia, where our rainfall is 24% below the national average. You'll see water butts dotted around with the overflow running into our wildlife pond to help keep it fresh.
Wood: we love seeing guests enjoying campfires whilst watching the night sky. We try to keep the pile of campfire wood going from our own coppicing work through the winter and work with local tree surgeons to use their off-cuts which we season on-site. Wood for the wood-burner in The Barn comes from a local company which manages woodland sustainably.
Reduce/Reuse/Recycle: PLASTIC - all our water onsite is drinking quality and we have bought a big "Berkey" water filter so that you don't have to bring bottles of water with you. We did a survey and realised that plastic water bottles accounted for a third of our recycling and we felt we needed to do something about that, so do please help us keep our lanes and seas free of plastic! We compost food remains in our wormery and compost bins (the "tiger worms" which do the work for us are plentiful by the height of summer - let us know if you'd like to take a look!) and try to dispose of as much as possible on site - cardboard or newspaper gets used on bonfires or the compost heap and bottles and jars in good condition get reused for home-made cordials, jams and jellies. We actively encourage our guests to use the recycling bins for glass, tin, plastic etc and try to make it all as easy and painless as possible - it is your holiday, after all.
Transport: The Barn is just 2 miles away from Brampton station and as we now have an hourly service on the London/Lowestoft line, we are keener than ever to encourage guests to consider coming by train. To make it even more appealing, we'll knock £12 off your holiday and collect and return you to the station. We have a couple of electric bikes for guests to use for local trips or further afield if you fancy and good undercover storage for those who want to bring their own bikes. We're located on National Cycle Route 1 and the lanes are very quiet, so it's easy and fun! We’ve got the local bike route maps, as well as OS maps of the area for you to borrow. The local bus passes the front gate - kids really enjoy sticking their hand out and jumping on board to head to Beccles or Halesworth or further afield.
Keeping it local: there’s a community-run pub in the village of Westhall The Racehorse, which is very welcoming, has great beer and good food (book in advance to eat). The pub is just a mile and a bit down the road, and we’d encourage you to use it as well as the local market towns of Halesworth, Bungay and Beccles, in order to support local producers and shops. There are some great shops around – Halesworth has one of our favourite shops, Focus, which sells a good range of healthfood and organic food and vegetables as well as some great presents, and a good clothes/jewellery/hand-bag shop next door! Beccles and Bungay both have a good selection of food and other shops too (lots of gift and antique shops in Bungay) and are well worth a visit. You can get local fish from the country market in Halesworth on Wednesday morning or buy it straight off the boats down at Southwold Harbour, which is great fun!
Finally: we are focused on providing a great environment for you to enjoy a holiday in the beautiful countryside and trying to keep it that way for future generations. We welcome your thoughts, questions and feedback