Tarka Trail eco holiday site wins gold for Green Tourism programme

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: January 19, 2015

By Olivier Vergnault, WMN Business Editor, Twitter: @OliVergnault

A popular café, accommodation site and live music venue on the Tarka Trail cycle path is celebrating after being awarded Gold status from the Green Tourism programme.

Yarde Orchard has been a popular spot for cyclists and locals since it was set up in 2003.

While it has always been run with sustainability at its core, the past year has seen the business make some significant changes in taking that forward thanks to the vision of new owners Simeon and Kelly Day.

In its report, the Green Tourist programme praises Simeon and Kelly’s efforts, pointing out the “numerous examples of 'best practice' onsite as a result of the commitment and enthusiasm of the owner” which, it says, delivers “a very green product to tourists and locals”.
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The report also says that effort has been made to reduce the bigger impacts by having heating from renewable sources, low energy lights and low flow showers and taps.

The report also praises Yarde Orchard’s use of local producers, saying “Procurement is outstanding with the majority of food and drink items sourced from Devon and Cornwall or made onsite.”

Simeon and Kelly, both keen ‘foodies’ and sustainability champions, took on the site, near Torrington, which includes a licensed café, three Yurts, an eco friendly bunkhouse and camping for around 15 tents, following the previous owner’s retirement.

Husband and wife Simeon and Kelly Day decided to purchase Yarde Orchard to live a more sustainable life and put their principles into action after securing funding through ethical bank Triodos.

The couple have been intimately involved with the running of Yarde Orchard for more than a decade, and for the past three years, Simeon has been running sustainability courses including charcoal making, cider making and woodland skills.

The pair, who closed the café down for three months while they refurbished the site, replacing the ramshackle collection of furniture to create a new space using reclaimed materials said taking over the business was a dream come true.

Speaking about the business’ new Gold status, Simeon said: “I’m pleased that they have recognised our efforts to make Yarde Orchard as sustainable as possible.

"There’s still more to do so we will be working hard to improve our business’s sustainability into the future.

“We believe that everyone can have a little bit of sustainability in their lives, and by demonstrating real sustainable living we hope to encourage others to start making changes too.

"If everyone did their little bit, the world would be a very different place.”

The couple, who have two small children, used the equity from the sale of their house along with a mortgage from Triodos to purchase the site in December 2013.

Simeon added: “Triodos were absolutely fantastic. They understood right from the start what we were trying to achieve; other lenders just couldn’t see the value or the importance of the site’s sustainability features.”