The land at WildGuernsey is an extension to our passion for the environment and the care of the earth .The concept of having Stewardship of the land sits better with us rather than owning the land, which often comes with a feeling that we have the power to manage it. Lots of learning and observing of the land leads us to ask, ‘Will the resource be better after our stewardship?’ This is where WildGuernsey was born, in order to share what we learn and learn from others. It has been a slowly evolving and organic process, learning how sustainability and best business practice could work together, whilst sitting comfortably with the community and environment. We want to offer our guests a stay with the lowest possible impact on the land and environment.
We have learnt that Care for the soil is the base blocks for life, without compromising the earth by adding fertilizers to the fields. This year we’ve put seaweed on all the fields and given time for nature to balance the soil without plough and loss of nutrients. We introduced sheep with many functions: manure the ground as they go, give a resource of wool (for felt, cushions and mulch), companionship and meat to remind us of the responsibility of feeding ourselves and bringing us closer to life and death. We learn about and incorporate composting through a wormery, compost bins, leaf composts, urine as a compost activator and deep bed composting on crops. People who visit can consider what their waste is through recycling and composting, to reduce what goes into the earth through landfill. Care for the sea features too with taking human waste as a resource instead of contributing to the sewage out to sea. Although there is no provision for, or no permission granted to us for composting toilets in Guernsey yet, we endeavor to educate and move towards this happening in the future, as well as working alongside groups such as Surfers Against Sewage (http://www.sas.org.uk/campaigns/sewage-and-sickness/guernsey/). We can however choose, and offer the idea to others, to only put what is biodegradable and not harmful in to the water around Guernsey with products on the land and at home too. This includes soap, washing up liquid, powder, cleaning products…anything that goes into the land, air or sea. http://www.mastersdegree.net/ocean-garbage/
Caring for diversity, in allowing other species to meet their needs along with us plays a part too. Diversity in people who share the space, the animals, insects, fungi and bacteria. Mature blackthorn hedges remain for birds, paths are cut out of scrub rather than it being cleared to keep old furze breaks (gorse growing areas for fuel) maintained and a diversity of habitats, fungi are encouraged to grow in piles of wood or leaf composting, grass is left long and edges rough for small mammals and we have looked at creating ways to share the land with other people with Workbee days, ‘friends of WildGuernsey’ and community/educational work. What we can give back to the land is far greater when we come integrate our efforts rather than segregate them.
Caring locally leads us to care also for wider communities, to break away from dependence on the global economy that is driven by our demand (depriving others of their own resources) and shift towards home or local economies. When we are sourcing our products we will endeavour to use independent companies and shops local to us, if we cannot source from our area we will look first to products made in the UK and France, researching their ethical policy. We are regular gatherers of reclaimed and recycled things, saving items that are products of our consuming lifestyles. We are phasing in organic, fair trade, unbleached bamboo sheets and towels and made an effort when purchasing something new, to consider the durability quality versus throw away quantities. We have links with local traders, businesses, hedge-side vegetable sellers, food producers and suppliers, St Peters Parish floral week and will work towards allowing these all to grow. This leads us back to Guernsey, home and to self reliance and taking personal responsibility. Although our site isn’t an obvious choice for people with disability, we’re flexible and small enough to adapt our existing systems to produce a memorable holiday for anyone who wants to stay with us. In aiming to understand the needs of others we try hard not exclude anyone. Offering flexibility and a varied pricing structure we hope this fits for larger families and groups, to single parents and couples. People are informed before they arrive with a welcome pack and from the outset we have one-to-one personal communication to ensure the stay is tailored to individuals. Noise levels are low with no amplified music. After 22.00 hrs. only a hum of voices round a fire can be heard and a quiet time before 09.00 for those staying and any passers by. We are a site where we want people to be relaxed, have their own space and be able hear what’s around them.
Non-material well being sits at the centre of WildGuernsey, opening up the space to enjoy a sunset over the west coast rather than watch the TV, to give time to people around us rather than playing on a computer game or trading in the noise clutter of everyday to sit, listen and look around.
We aim to consume less and save energy. Wood burners run off drift wood, ex-tree surgeon wood and reclaimed wood. In time we hope to run solely off renewable resources. We have a strict personal and visitor vehicle use (restricted use of personal site vehicles, car pooling for group visits, alternatives of bicycles to use, free bus passes if coming car-free, walking to/from the site (baggage taken by wheel barrow). Although the Water Board of Guernsey do not yet allow greywater and blackwater re-use, we will work toward the education of this. For now, we can collect water in the water butts, capture water in our edible pond for the wildlife, ducks and to feed a small willow copse for basketry. Standpipes help re-connect us to water usage by ensuring that people have to fetch & carry their own water, highlighting their family’s water use, eg wash veg, then recycle water for washing up. No hot water at basins (intended for handwashing only) so clients must heat own as required. Hot running water is available only in showers. We are working toward having our showers are heated from the direct power of the sun, and the bath from wood. Low flushing capacity toilets, with plants welcoming any extra nutrients from weeing outside! With time we’ll aim to equal our energy use from sustainable resources (sun, wind etc.). Lighting is low with each tent having a wind up torch/lantern.
Voluntary simplicity is something that we embrace. Having less and enjoying more. Surplus in produce can be distributed to friends of WildGuernsey, our surplus time to voluntary work with the community and young people and we plant for the future (hoping those chestnut trees feed someone even if it’s not us!). We see the fertility of the soil as a bank, not a resource to drain, planting perennial plants not for economic gain but to restore health of land. We can try and gain a sense of abundance by asking ‘what is enough?’ apply self restraint and re-gain control of what we need and use.
We attempt to plan WildGuernsey to be ethically sound and practical for a fledgling green business. We all make decisions every day with our principles in mind – something we hope will be reinforced by your experience with us from your first interaction via phone or email through to your stay with us.
Permaculture design principles can be conceptional tools, useful in the journey to lead an ethical life, adapting to the ecological realities that we face. If you are interested to learn more about Permaculture then please go to their website http://www.permaculture.org.uk/ as a place to start or ask us when you visit.