We grow and produce lots of our own food in the walled Kitchen Garden and Apple Orchard, both tended on organic principles. The food we serve is almost exclusively organic. We order through Essential Trading, a natural foods distribution company and buy organic elsewhere as much as possible. However we also like to support our local shops so there is often the tricky balancing of buying locally when not organic or driving to the supermarket in town for organics.
We have a wood fired central heating boiler which heats the entire house and source our wood locally and sustainably. It helps that Rich is a forester!
In June 2011, we installed a 3 kW photo voltaic solar system on our wood store building. The system feeds electricity to the house and excess to the national grid. The wood store is an oak timber frame constructed in Glastonbury. The electricity service we use is Ecotricity, which utilises 100% renewable energy.
We recycle as much as possible and estimate it at about 80-90% of our waste.
In our ongoing restoration of the house, we have been using lime plaster, sustainable wood and the avoidance of toxic materials by using such materials as distemper paint in the decorating. We are also in the process of adding vermiculite insulation in the loft space for energy reduction.
We are slowly shifting to all organic cotton linen and towels. Low energy light bulbs and non-toxic cleaning materials are standard use.
This is another tricky one, but one that we really believe to be important. Though we do use cars, we try to minimise as much as possible by combining trips, cycling, walking to the village to support our local shops, using public transport locally as well as for long journeys.
There’s always more that can be done and we work toward this while trying to not be too strident. We like to share these issues with any interested guests and welcome thoughts, recommendations and new ideas.
"Over Stowey was the real home of my heart ...The beauty of the waterfalls and streams, the deep red earth, the strong, wiry bracken, the lovely heather hills, the fragrant drenched woods, full of moss and ferns... We lay in a fold of the Quantocks under steep, red fields, the moor above us, and occasional white seagulls swooping over our bright earth."
~ Phyllis Bottome remembering her childhood in the Vicarage