Sustainability & Environment
Beautiful, Comfortable and Sustainable. Hand made on site using reclaimed and recycled materials where ever possible. In bygone days, agricultural workers working away from the farm were often accommodated in huts; be this a shepherd during lambing, a game keeper on a large estate, or a gillie on a valuable stretch of river. There were of course manufacturers of huts, but very often these quirky little abodes were fashioned on the farm from surplus materials. Hand built by Nick here on the farm in the tiny village of Bodiam in East Sussex, our huts are based on the idea of an old Shepherd's hut. What makes them unique in today's market is that (in true agricultural fashion) they are built using reclaimed, recycled and locally sourced materials wherever possible. The aim of this is to make them of the lowest possible environmental impact. The huts are constructed using recycled chassis from touring caravans (this also makes them considerably more manoeuvrable than those on traditional iron wheels), the roofs are made from an old corn bin, and the timber for the work tops and seat covers is sourced from sustainable woods on the farm (as is the wood for the fires). The remaining timber used in the construction is all from responsibly farmed forests. The paint is 'Farrow and Ball' which are dyed using natural pigments. The 12volt lighting system is powered via a solar panel on the roof.
Warm, Cosy and safe. The Huts are safe proven and accredited by Quality in Tourism. Finished to an exceptionally high standard, they are fully insulated, double glazed fitted with heat and carbon monoxide alarms. Whilst offering our guests the experience of life in these traditional quirky little homes, the odd modern day convenience like a gas hob and electric lighting make an idyllic idea a usable and comfortable reality.
Positive Environmental Impact. Our huts offer a beautiful space to relax and the piece of mind that this is not to the detriment of the environment in which they are placed. We have not taken a single inch of the farm out of agriculture to provide this accommodation. It has also enabled us to carry out essential forestry work in the wooded areas of the farm where they are sited. This in turn has improved the habitat within the woods. Given the sustainable approach we have taken to offering tourism on the farm, we have been lucky enough to gain the support of The High Weald AONB unit as well as the Our Land project, and have received grant aid to enable us to replant plant wild flowers and hedges to offer further diversity to the eco system.
The Original Hut Company has been built to help us protect the woods in which it is sited. Nick trained in woodland and game management at Sparsholt agricultural college. He continues to put that knowledge to good use through managing this project. Each aspect has been carefully designed to have the minimal possible detrimental impact on the environment in which it is placed. The site is in an area of woodland that had been neglected for over 20 years: the trees had grown very tall and spindly fighting for light, little light was able to penetrate the dense upper canopy and therefore there was very little lower canopy growth and the wood floor was a tangle of brambles. As we have gradually brought the woodland back into a managed scheme, we have witnessed the most amazing rebirth of the woodland floor, beautiful native plants such as foxgloves and bluebells, which must have been dormant for years burst into life this summer. With them has come an increase in the insect life, and slowly but surely following on are birds, mammals and reptiles. I had the fright of my life on Monday when I popped into the wash hut and was greeted by a toad!!
In a bid to continue to preserve the woodland as well as provide useable accommodation we have been careful to use local and recycled products wherever possible throughout the build. The huts themselves are built on recycled caravan chassis, the roofs are made from an old corn bin many of the windows and doors are reclaimed. Much of the timber used for the flooring and worktops was sourced on the farm, from trees that fell in the 1987 storm. The low voltage lighting runs from a solar panel mounted on each hut, and provides enough light for comfortable useage, but not enough to cause any real light pollution. The heat is generated from logs, which are sourced from a sustainable coppicing programme around the farm as well as the prunings from our cider orchards, which would otherwise be considered a waste product.
As an active part of the local community it is very important to us that the only impact our accommodation has on our friends and neighbours is positive. We work hard to actively promote activities and events in the local area and work in close conjunction with our 2 most local pubs The Castle Inn and The White Dog Inn, as well as the Bodiam Ferry Company and the Curlew Restaurant. Parsonage Farm is our next door but one neighbour and run a small farm shop named 'Busters'. We sell a range of their home killed meats and other local produce.
In the same way we use local trades and craftsmen for the many support services we require, from web design and advertising to tree surgery. We are currently working to support an up and coming local photographer who has asked if he can display some of his work in the huts. We try to promote potentially connected local businesses by building links to them from our website as well as providing information about them to our guests as part of their arrival literature.
Having spent a lot of time and effort developing sustainable accommodation that works in harmony with the environment, we tend to attract guests with an interest in the landscape. With this in mind Nick and I make a point of making ourselves available each day to spend some time with our guests. During this time we find ourselves explaining what is currently going on, both on our own farm and others in the area. We show people changes that have occurred in the immediate woodland and offer advice on all aspects of rural life within this beautiful landscape from foraging to farming, forestry to fishing and everything in between. For those who arrive with us with less of an interest in the countryside around them I flag the key points of the countryside code in the written welcome notes. We work to promote other local businesses/attractions who are offering learning experiences, the most local is Sedlescombe Organic Vineyard; we show the footpath route to find it on our map of the farm as well as details of their woodland and vineyard trail. We provide details of other local things to see and do that we feel would enhance our guests' experience of the landscape in our welcome notes.