Sunniside nursery's plans are all set to take root

MEMBERS of an organisation offering rural tourist accommodation have been picking up environmental tips.

MEMBERS of an organisation offering rural tourist accommodation have been picking up environmental tips.

Members of Farm Stay North East hope to promote sustainability within the region’s tourist industry.

They are working with Birkheads Gardens and Nursery in Sunniside, Gateshead, which aims to be a leading centre for eco-friendly gardening.

The nursery was created 25 years ago on farmland which used to be used for open cast mining.

Proprietor Christine Liddle started with the aim of doing her bit for the environment and ended up creating a beacon of best practice for others to follow.

She said: “We wanted to operate in an environmentally friendly way without visitors necessarily being aware that we were doing so.

“Now we want to encourage others, so we are inviting Farm Stay UK Durham to come and look at how we work in the hope they will spread the word to their members who own farms and cottages used in tourism and also their guests.”

The Birkheads Gardens, ornamental features and public land have all been created using recycled paving, slate and driftwood while the car park and public areas have been constructed with gravel and hardcore to allow water to drain back into the earth.

The Gardens use only sustainable local produce and composts its waste which in turn is used to create the raised beds used in the wellbeing garden, which contains vegetables and herbs for health.

A wormery is used for its kitchen waste and there is coordinated recycle, reduce and reuse strategy in operation plus a green transport plan for visitors.

Hilary Johnson, chair of Durham Farm Stay UK, said: “Working sustainably is at the very heart of the Farm Stay ethos. Members want to demonstrate their respect for the countryside by operating an eco-friendly business and tourists expect traditional farm hospitality to have green credentials.”

Farm Stay UK was set up in 1983 as the Farm Holiday Bureau. Today it is a farmer-owned consortium offering farm tourism.

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