West Country Storytelling Festival
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Sustainability starts at home

We are committed to ‘walking the talk’. As part of this commitment we work with our visitors and clients to “minimise unnecessary travel, make the most effective use of transport networks and promote the use of sustainable travel modes.” (Devon Structure Plan 2001 -2016, adopted October 2004, Policy TR3).

If you are planning to visit Embercombe or are organising travel for a group attending a course at Embercombe, please visit the Green Travel Plan page.

Where available we endeavour to source all of our food from our own organic farm & garden and local organic suppliers.

Embercombe has eighteen acres of broadleaf woodland. We have a developed a management plan with the help of our forester, Mike Gardner, which will see the long-term care of these beautiful woods assured for future generations.

We have a wildlife management plan in place. The implementation of this plan is central to our values and practice.

When you take sustainability into the heart of your operation there are a complex multiplicity of implications that rear up demanding attention. Nowhere has this been more evident than in our design and planning meetings for the construction programme.

As with most things, we simply have to hold in balance the various requirements of what we want, with what we already have, with what we’re allowed to do, with what we want to do, with our budget, and with the wealth of which we dream and fully expect to materialise. At the moment our commitment in this area looks like this:

  • We have engaged builders committed to environmentally sound construction materials and processes.

  • Wherever we can we are sourcing our timber and other materials locally and from our site.

  • In most cases we are using what we have in terms of buildings and adapting them rather than demolishing them and building new.

  • We have committed to designs that our existing budget can manage while also ensuring that we have allowed for future improvements consistent with our commitment to sustainability.

Energy and resources
The same principles apply in this area as described above. In the first phase of construction we are having to satisfy ourselves with rain water storage, a wood fired heating system, several composting toilets, a water borehole, and electricity from a green supplier and solar panels.

In the second construction phase we will install a reed bed fluids waste system and make use of the enhanced insulative qualities of a cob construction. The building incorporates various design features that mean we will benefit from passive solar gain.

Furnishings & equipment
Whether it is furniture, bed linen, curtains, paper, rugs or lamps we are doing our best to resource Embercombe with furnishings and equipment that are consistent with our principles. Occasionally we have to make a compromise, but this seems to be one of those ever-present contradictions that always complicate and ultimately enrich our learning.