Northumberland pub's herbs put them in the running for business innovation award

A Northumberland pub has reached the finals of a national competition after using indoor lighting to grow herbs all-year-round

Katherine Meyrick of the Battlesteads pub and hotel in Wark which has been nominated for a national awards
Katherine Meyrick of the Battlesteads pub and hotel in Wark which has been nominated for a national awards

A pub landlord has used indoor lighting also found on the International Space Station to grow herbs, salads and vegetables even in the middle of January.

Richard Slade, who runs Battlesteads Hotel & Restaurant in Wark, Northumberland, with his wife Dee, built plastic polytunnels and an indoor “hot room” with LED lighting to keep growing ingredients all year round.

The low-power lights let him put summer fruits on the winter menu without expensive shipping to the countryside.

Now Battlesteads has beat 860 other gastropubs to enter the final round of Budweiser Budvar’s Business Innovation of the Year Award.

 

Mr Slade said: “This is about sustainability and low energy consumption to produce food in this country. It is the only viable future that we have, because otherwise we’ll use up all the natural resources we’ve got.

“With the prospect of climate change, there have to be methods of production and growing that aren’t subject to extreme weather events.

“That is the key to it – it means we have fresh ingredients that come from around the hotel we use.”

Waste energy from the hotel’s heating system and low-carbon power from its organic wood-chip boiler mean the LEDs use a fraction of the power drawn drawn by standard halogen heat rooms.

Battlesteads now gets 90% of its herbs and vegetables in the polytunnels and Mr Slade believes the new menu has boosted sales by 20%. He said: “LED lighting hasn’t had the spectrum of sunlight until very recently – only in the last two years. That sunlight creates an environment where they can grow naturally in the winter.”

Katherine Meyrick tends to herbs being grown at the Battlesteads pub and hotel in Wark
Katherine Meyrick tends to herbs being grown at the Battlesteads pub and hotel in Wark
 

Battlesteads now gets 90% of its herbs and vegetables in the polytunnels and Mr Slade believes the new menu has boosted sales by 20%. He said: “LED lighting hasn’t had the spectrum of sunlight until very recently – only in the last two years. That sunlight creates an environment where they can grow naturally in the winter.”

But the pub still has to beat two other finalists: Whiting and Hammond, which launched its own quarterly magazine called Gastro, and the Eagle & Child in Ramsbottom, Lancashire, for its edible beer garden and child’s play area.

The awards are judged by pub industry magazine the Publican’s Morning Advertiser and announced on January 27.

Managing editor Jo Bruce said: “The introduction of the polytunnels and the indoor hot room means the chefs can now use a diverse range of interesting and unusual fresh ingredients to enhance their food. It has also been done cost effectively and in a self sufficient and sustainable manner.”

In 2011 Battlesteads was voted most considerate hotel of the year, and in in 2012 received a top rating from the Sustainable Restaurant Association.

The SRA noted that the pub “works with local primary schools in the area to teach students about sustainability and has recently begun to provide lunches to the local school”.

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