Responsible tourism: Christmas retreat in Scotland
The house is run by a small community who are committed to living and working by socially sustainable principles. Our major current project is to transform our large 1890ís Victorian country house into a completely carbon-neutral base for all our activities. We will be using multiple renewable energy sources including sun, wind and wood fuel. The infrastructure is being designed both to maximize efficiency and for educational access.
In the last year, we have reduced our carbon output by 45% by switching to wood-burning stoves and aim to be 90% carbon-free within the next year by switching completely to wood and solar-thermal.
Alongside this big project we are not neglecting the daily choices. For example we compost all our food waste, have a car-share scheme and use low energy lighting. We either recycle paper or use it for composting and wherever possible, we avoid using printed materials and market via the Internet. For any materials we do print we use an award winning environmentally friendly printing company based in the next village.
As we are based in the UK it is possible to travel here using a lower carbon option than flying. There is an excellent sleeper train service from London to Inverness and trains and coaches from most large cities. Bringing your own car is also a good option if there is a group of you, allowing a car share. To encourage people to choose one of these lower carbon options we can help you with planning your transport and route. For those of you who do need to fly, we provide an optional offsetting scheme.
Whilst our courses and workshops are based within the community, we have close connections with the Findhorn Foundation, and the much larger community that surrounds the Foundation itself. As members of this larger community through the New Findhorn Association we support and have access to a unique eco-village model which has the lowest recorded ecological footprint for any community in the industrialised world, just half the UK national average.
We contribute to the local economy in a number of ways. We grow most of our own vegetables and fruit, make our own bread and apple juice and sell some of this produce at the local Farmerís Market. We keep our own chickens, forage in the local woods and work to preserve, dry and cure as much home produce as possible.
When we need to buy in we source as locally as we can. For example though mostly vegetarian, when we buy meat we use a local butcher whose produce is all sourced locally to a very high welfare standard. Itís also important that our suppliers are socially responsible and employ local people. For example, many of our dried goods come from a local whole food shop that is a community owned enterprise.
Our volunteer program covers numerous areas including gardening, cooking and the complexities of maintaining a listed building. These are skills people can then use to find employment. The program also provides a sense of community and identity for those involved and develops their team working and communication skills. When we need to bring in people to help with building and maintenance work, we use local companies. We also provide therapy rooms (for example, for massage or reflexology) that are used by local practitioners. We are forming partnerships with local individuals and organizations that are able to provide a broad range of educational experiences in many aspects of sustainability ranging from conservation and ecology to conflict resolution and non-violent communication. We are also starting an exciting program to foster social inclusion and local culture using a range of local performers. Within the house, rooms are decorated with a variety of locally sourced antique linens and furniture we feature artwork by local artists.
The members hold a wealth of local knowledge and a wide skill-set so whether your question is about organic farming, how to build a chicken run, what happens in our shamanic sweat lodge, how best to preserve turnips or where the best local pub/organic bakehouse/pottery is we are certain to be able to help!