At Iffin Farmhouse, we always have and still continue to address environmental issues as much as possible in running the business whilst continuing to provide the best experience we can for our guests. We are only a micro-business but still take seriously our responsibility to find ways to reduce the negative impact we have on our environment.
As part of our ethos we believe in recycling. Not only glass, cardboard, fabrics but also food waste and water. Our chickens love vegetable peelings, as does our compost heap, and when it comes to food anything left over from guests breakfasts becomes owned by the dog (temporarily). Indeed, he too was recycled! Nearly 16 years ago our loving spaniel was just a short advert in the local newspaper for sale column. He is a testimony to eating a healthy breakfast!
We don’t recycle drinking water, except to water plants, however, our barn conversion does have a rain-water harvesting system which is fed from the roof, via the gutters and underground tank into the barn for use in flushing the toilets. Talking of water, the bottled drinking water is Kentish and supplied in glass containers.
Wandering around the garden you may discover the odd Heath Robinson contraption designed for catching and storing rainwater, a broken (semi planted) teapot as a new dwelling for a bumble bee, and other interesting recycled objects with perhaps not an obvious use.
Inevitably over the years trees are lost naturally. These, and more in addition to natural hedging plants have been planted to continue creating habitats for birds and animals. Although some of the trees are cut up to provide fuel for the wood burning stoves some logs are left where they fall to provide a natural habitat for fauna and flora. Iffin Farmhouse has also been busy growing lavender and other bee and insect loving flowers.
We like to try and support local services as much as we can. The Farm Shop, down the road and round the corner, for bread, mushrooms, tomatoes, cheese and milk and when our own chickens are unable to keep up with demand we pop next door to the egg farm. In the summer and autumn fruits are harvested from our own land. If we are not cooking evening meals we happily point guests in the direction of our local pub, which is only a 20 minute walk across the fields.
On the subject of local drinks, the Kentish wines and Ciders are not to be missed.
As is inevitable, when we do have to go shopping, rather than going back and forth, we plan our trip in a logical manner to save time and fuel. Sometimes a member of staff will stop by the local butchers on their way to work to avoid excessive journeys.
Over the years we have provided valuable experience and opportunities for many local folk, who have added their own characters to the slightly quirky enterprise. We don’t ask for industry experience just willingness to learn, like animals and to fit into the team. In return we offer transferable skills and lots of contact with people and, as we value them, far more than the minimum wage. Once or twice a year we welcome a live-in foreign student, often German, who is absorbed into the little workforce in lieu of English conversation and intense Kentish culture!
Apart from offering our combined local knowledge of a century or more to our guests and fitting them out with wedding shoes etc. when the need arises, we support our local Church built in the 1100’s, a gorilla at The John Aspinall Foundation, and of course The Dogs Trust. Talks in local schools and other voluntary work is also part of our repertoire, when time allows.
Paper and Printing
As much as possible we operate a paperless system, however, there are inevitably times where printouts are required. In these circumstances, as long as the paper doesn’t hold confidential information, we use the reverse for scrap e.g. breakfast orders, telephone messages. There is always a constant challenge in life to finding ways of ensuring sustainability and at Iffin Farmhouse we do our best as individuals and as a team to embed this into the business and be responsible for communicating our thoughts to others that we meet and respectfully listening regardless of any differences there may be.
At Iffin Farmhouse we also believe in looking for solutions. When I momentarily allow to indulge myself in feeling insignificant as an individual and what little a difference I can make, I am always reminded of a story I once heard about a bucket of water and how it only took one extra drop to cause an overflow….whatever we do or say always makes a difference.