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Environmental policy - Gold Award

Gold AwardMilden Hall offers green award-winning farm bed and breakfast accommodation in a 16th century farmhouse and unusual self-catering in a sensitively adapted and restored 16th century aisled Tudor barn, and most recently kitted out, the Old Brooder bunkhouse, all set amidst a working arable farm. We are hugely aware of our responsibilities to the environment and as custodians of the countryside. We were awarded the Gold Award for Green Tourism early on green tourism days (2002) – recognition and encouragement for our environmental policy.

As the pressure grew on the farm to diversify in the late 1990s, the provision of green tourism with minimum adverse impact on the environment evolved as a natural progression from the environmentally friendly approach to our farm business and Juliet's job as a farm conservation adviser, and our wish to retain the historic integrity of the ancient farm buildings and surroundings. In a not-too-earnest way, but with a sense of humour and infectious enthusiasm, we try to give a positive message for guests to take away with them.  We donate money to Suffolk Wildlife Trust if our guests bring their own towels, arrive by public transport or bicycle.

Colourful scrapbooks and child-illustrated copies of our environmental policy (energy, shopping, recycling, water, local community, history) demonstrate what we do and we provide lots of environmentally friendly options of things to do on- and off-farm during their stay. We encourage guests to take to our bikes or their feet to explore the local area, and provide numerous car-free itineraries, planned circular walks and bike rides that take in local villages, nature reserves and historic buildings. We provide families with a pack of environmental activities to do such as tree hugging, seasonal scavenge hunts and pond dipping. Our much-loved ancient meadows have become the setting for bug hunts whilst guests can bat-detect in the evening or check the moth trap in the morning. Feedback is good – guests return year after year!

The house and barn are partly heated by woodburners using wood rotationally coppiced from our hedges – a management technique that promotes good habitat for blackcap, whitethroat and turtle dove nesting amongst other birds. We generate more solar energy than the electricity we use - and are at our limit of what we are able to generate.  Restoration of the barn used timbers cut from an ancient pollard oak tree on the farm, and all 20 barn beds and tables were made by a local joiner using Suffolk oak and elm, and our new sturdy oak bunkhouse beds are all joiner-made too.

We aim to provide really attractive and comfortable farmstay accommodation, which promotes the environmental benefits of sensitively farmed Suffolk countryside and the real value of good local produce, provided with minimum adverse impact to the environment - and a positive message for guests to take away with them. In summary we aim to do the following:

  • We try to raise awareness of sustainable farm tourism issues to staff, guests and fellow tourism hosts, and promote local opportunities for green tourism on/off-farm.
  • We try wherever possible to buy fresh local meat and produce, and other locally produced products, items made from recycled materials, goods that are not over-packaged and products which are durable or refillable
  • We recycle as much as possible to save natural resources, save energy, reduce the need for landfill, reduce the cost of disposal and to create jobs.
  • We compost and recycle as much as we can to reduce waste, landfill and to provide our own compost to reduce peat digging elsewhere.
  • We try to reduce energy consumption in all activities by gradually changing gadgets and fittings to low energy use options.
  • We try to minimise the use of car and fuel consumption by ourselves and our guests. We provide 40+ bikes and details of car-free itineraries using bikes, kayaks, walking and local bus hops tied in with visits to historic houses, pubs, nature reserves, and art galleries!
  • We try to minimise use of water across all activities even in times of plenty to save money and energy spent on purifying water and reduce pressure on water abstraction sites, and consequently habitat destruction.
  • We try to minimise pesticide use on the farm, in the garden and house at all times. (We are not certified organic, just careful with our pesticide policy on farm and rarely use any pesticide in the garden.)
  • We try to manage our archaeological, landscape and wildlife features as sensitively as possible and create new features and habitats as appropriate to provide for long term habitat and landscape continuity of local, distinctive character.
  • We aim to reduce print and paper-use as much as possible.

Green incentives and discounts

One or two night eco-options available in the Tudor barn in December, January early February.  The eco-option includes underfloor heating in the well-insulated cartlodge end of the barn which houses the large kitchen, two bedrooms, two bathrooms and small sitting room but elsewhere it is a giant woodburner only that chugs away day and night with our own coppiced woodland fuel!  These options usually suit groups smaller than 14 who are happy to eat around the large kitchen table in the underfloor heated cartlodge, gather around the warm giant woodburner in the main barn to while away the evening, cosy up in warm beds with 20 tog duvets, electric blankets and hot water bottles but forgo the full giant diesel heater that heats the massive barn at great expense and difficult to justify on environmental grounds for smaller groups.  If you're a group who are going to be out and about walking or cycling in the daytime, this option could work well, save you some money, and keep your carbon footprint down!

As an incentive to help you to help us, here are some options for your group to consider whereby you save energy and we donate money to local conservation projects:

  • Towel challenge: Whilst we do provide towels, if you decide to bring your own towel, we will donate £1 to Suffolk Wildlife Trust for every one of our towels not used. 
  • Bike challenge: If you arrive by bicycle rather than car (some form of proof required to show you didn’t just drop it out of the car at the bottom of the drive!), we will donate £5 per cyclist to Suffolk Wildlife Trust.
  • Public transport challenge: For every four guests who arrive by public transport, such as train to Sudbury or Bury St Edmunds, and then onward journey by bus, taxi or lift by a friend already here (leave train tickets here when you leave as proof of train journey), we will give you a pound of our own very delicious, low-food mile sausages and we will donate £5 to Suffolk Wildlife Trust.

For every £1 donated to Suffolk Wildlife Trust, it can be multiplied by ten times during special fund-raising appeals, for example for local nature reserve land acquisition.

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Juliet and Christopher Hawkins, The Hall, Milden, Lavenham, Sudbury, Suffolk CO10 9NY
Tel: 01787 247235      Email: hawkins@thehall-milden.co.uk