Behind the Green is all about giving you more insight into the places we feature. Our interviews reveal what happens behind the scenes, tell stories of the people on the ground, exposes the challenges they face, as well as the communities they impact; essentially the bits you don’t usually hear.
Meet David and his wife Felicity. David grew up on the farm that is now Hoe Grange Holidays, and Felicity has lived there for more than thirty years. Felicity is a keen horse rider, whilst David loves to cycle when he gets the time away from running the farm. The pair both love the local food in the Peak District, good food is their real passion.
Learn more about Hoe Grange Holidays here>
How did Hoe Grange Holidays become so eco-focused? Was it always this way?‘Originally it was a dairy farm! But when that closed, we opened up the accommodation. For us it was about moral value as well as commercial value. It’s something that makes us stand out in this area where there are hundreds of cottages and accommodations, but we also feel like we are custodians of this land as well. Although we own the land, we don’t feel like it is ours to mistreat, in fact we should be leaving it better than we found it. We bring hundreds of people a year to this place that is so scarcely populated, so we need to make sure our impact is as minimal as possible.’
What is one of the best ways guests can engage in your eco approach?‘We like to encourage people to not use their cars to explore the area, there are plenty of alternatives. We do bring your own horse holidays and guests are able to use our bikes. We even provide off-road wheelchairs so that every single person can be included. We give people the ability for car free days out, to see the beautiful area in an unobtrusive way.’
What makes the Peak District such a great place to visit?‘It is so diverse with many different landscapes. You can see the sweeping hills and valleys, the famous moorland and limestone gorges, and this is all within a 10-mile radius. It is also so accessible because its close to major cities like Manchester, Birmingham and Nottingham, so you get a lot of people visiting from those places that are only an hour away.’
Can you tell us more about your work with the Wildlife Trust?‘We’re right next a butterfly reserve that the Wildlife Trust runs – it actually used to be part of the farm itself. We donate what we can to sponsor their open days and help out financially. Ever since the butterfly reserve opened up we have seen so many more butterflies in the area, it’s really amazing in the summer! We are also helping with the restoration of a dew pond in order to increase the habitat for the Great Crested Newts.’
What aspect of Hoe Grange are you most proud of when you reflect on your journey so far?‘It’s definitely our accessibility offering, very few places offer it as much as we do. It’s something that we’re incredibly passionate about, it drives everything we do here, it’s always our first thought when we undertake a new project. We don’t just focus on making the farm accessible for those with physical disabilities, but for everybody, people with mental health issues too. We try to create an atmosphere of peace and quiet and have farm animals that people can interact with. I also speak at a lot of seminars with start-up companies, and encourage them to include accessibility from the very beginning.’
What green initiative or eco practice are you most passionate about?‘Our renewable energy system is impressive, it’s not just your standard system with static solar panels. We harness the wind and the sun to power ourselves, and we’re constantly working on it and trying to multiply what we’re getting. We’ve already reduced our carbon footprint massively.’
Where do you see your biggest area for improvement in being more sustainable?‘We’re constantly trying to adapt and find new ways to do things so that we can further our eco approach. We’d love to be entirely self-sufficient when it comes to energy, at the moment we’re at about 85%, which we’re proud of, but we’d love to be at 100%.’
What’s next for Hoe Grange Holidays?‘We don’t want to expand because we know that would be detrimental to our surroundings, which is the last thing we want! We want to carry on doing more of the same to keep the peace and quiet that we have here. We’re looking at getting batteries to store the energy that we generate here, so that we can be entirely self-sufficient. As well, we’re planning to appeal to more electric vehicle users by installing more car charging points, for different types of cars.’
Learn more about Hoe Grange Holidays & do your own eco checks here>