Here we talk to Vicky Ritchens, Director of The Orchard Retreat to find out more about this glorious glamping destination for holidaymakers looking for a sustainable tourism option.
Can you tell us a bit about your place?
We are a glamping and cottage holiday business based in Mid Devon. We have three yurts & two holiday cottages set within 15 acres of meadows, orchard & wood. We live on site in the main farmhouse.
What made you decide to set up The Orchard Retreat?
My husband and I fell in love with glamping after staying in a yurt in the Lake District and we were ready for a new challenge. So we decided to set up a business that created a different lifestyle for our family & allowed our guests to immerse themselves in nature, a real getaway from the hussle & bustle of daily life.
You have a Silver Award from Green Tourism – can you tell us what you had to do to achieve this?
We are so delighted with this award, being as sustainable as we can has been a big part of our ethos from the start of our venture in 2013. We had to pass an initial questionnaire, have a telephone interview and then provide evidence of what we do and provide to be sustainable. We use a wind turbine electric company, have non electric bio digestors for waste water, we use Greenscents and other natural cleaning products, recycle & make it easy for our guests to do the same, buy & supply locally wherever possible, we use a sustainable wood source (via our own wood & other local suppliers) & we have our own water source via bore hole. We also use timers on our lights & heating systems in our communal bathroom & kitchen block and have energy rated electrical equipment. As well as this we are switching over to LED lightbulbs. We also provide luxury recycyled loo roll (Who Gives a Crap), which is brilliant & 50% of their profits are donated to help build loos.
What are your top tips for people wanting to take a more sustainable holiday?
To use the local resources, we have a farm shop just up the road, so most items can be bought locally. We also have an amazing pub in the village. Recycling is a big part of it too. Don’t bring bottled water as most places have safe drinking water. Also they can look to see if their chosen holiday accommodation has an environmental policy as this gives a good indication if the accommodation is trying to be more sustainable.
We know that you use Greenscents products – can you tell us why you decided to move away from traditional cleaning products?
We moved away from traditional products many years ago because many of the larger companies’ attitude towards the environment and animals (I am a vegetarian) are just not acceptable. Plus our bio digesters/waste treatment tanks work best with more natural products. Also we just don’t think powerful chemicals are necessary now we all have more information on how amazing the more natural products are. We started with Method and Ecover, but were delighted to find Greenscents more recently. Not only are you local to us, but your companies ethos and the products are beautifully and sustainably packaged and they work brilliantly.
Are there any other initiatives you have in place to protect the beautiful area in which you are based?
Our land is organic and we leave our meadows to grow into wild flower meadows in the spring and only do one late July cut of hay. This allows natural areas for the wildlife and insects and plus they look amazing. We also encourage guests to walk to the farm shop and pub.