As a small and rural business we know the importance of shopping local and supporting our own local economy wherever we can, however I’d never given thought to whether our own business could be classed as a ‘sustainable rural tourism business’ so a recent guest review really gave me food for thought.
Can we really boast that we are a Sustainable Rural Tourism Business?
From the onset of our journey into our new venture we wanted to create something long term, something that would enhance our area, our existing farming business and support other local businesses, and obviously we needed it to be viable. To the best of our ability we looked at the area around us and researched local demand to discover where, if any, there were gaps in the accommodation market, and we wanted to develop something that we would enjoy and more importantly appeal to our target market….the concept of our luxury 5* cottage for two was born.
Throughout the whole process it was important to us that we supported local businesses and throughout the planning and construction stages we used local tradespeople & suppliers and where possible, we did a lot of the work ourselves.
We created our holiday cottage to be all we’d hoped and envisaged, to be long term, to be viable, to enhance our area and most importantly to provide an excellent guest experience and to create a business that would continue to support & develop our relationship with other local businesses.
The most obvious way we support our fellow businesses is through the produce we provide in our welcome hampers and this is where buying locally and thereby supporting our own rural economy comes into its own! I like to vary the hampers depending on what I can get, whilst still always trying to be mindful of what our guests might enjoy, the reason for their stay and the time of year.
Cheese from Northumberland Cheese Company which I collect from the local Farmers’ Market, along with any bread I might need and of course we provide locally produced milk.
Jams and chutneys are bought from Northumbria Preserves. Not only are they lovely, but the owner Brian makes them all himself at his kitchen table. His mission to create artisan preserves made as much as possible from home grown and locally sourced produce, and apart from growing a lot of his own produce in season, he also exchanges and receives from other allotment and local small business sources.
I’ve learnt that it’s no good asking Brian for strawberry jam in February….. and really, I think that’s how it should be!
Brian can be found at various Farmers’ Markets and is always on hand with useful advice on what food to pair with what chutney. My favourite is undoubtedly his Chilli Jam, which he told me to pair with ice cream…I’ll let you know!
Scones, birthday cakes, mince pies, sloe gin, lemonade, lavender shortbread are all homemade, and we pick the sloes on the farm and lavender is from our own garden!
When I need Chocolates Truffles they are from Alis’ Ark in Stocksfield, they are carefully and beautifully handmade and are exquisite and the chocolate bars I provide are from North Chocolates. These businesses are both a one lady army creating at her own kitchen table.
When we first welcomed our guests to St Oswald’s Farm our free range eggs for the welcome hampers were bought from a local village but we now pleased to have our own chickens. They were rescue hens who arrived with us in a bit of a state but who are now enjoying a happy outdoor life. We’re delighted to be able to provide our guests with the freshest of our own farm eggs.
Sprays of flowers are from our own garden, and this year I’ll be growing more to try to ensure I have flowers all year round.
Logs for the wood burning stove are from fallen trees on the farm which are seasoned for use.
Each week our laundry goes to The Laundry Gallery in our local town of Hexham who provide a fantastic and professional service…I would lose my sanity if I had to iron superking bedding each week…they are my heroes!
We’re passionate about not only promoting our own business but about the whole visitor experience and actively promote and shout about the whole of Northumberland and the North East. We want our guests and all the visitors to our region to know just how much we have here, how much there is to see and do, and encourage those all important return trips!
Of course I can’t look at our business here at St Oswald’s Farm without mentioning, well…the farm! We are proud and passionate about where we live and understand the importance of retaining and enhancing what is here, our species rich ‘Heavenfield’ hay meadow, the vallum that runs alongside Hadrian’s Wall, the grasses, plants, hedgerows, trees, stone walling, it all makes St Oswald’s what it is. In 2018 we joined an Environmental Stewardship Scheme and the scheme allows us to help keep, preserve and improve those all important areas and to sustain those enhancements, and in turn allowing everyone to continue to enjoy some of our best loved habitats.
So, are we a sustainable rural tourism business?
- do we strengthen and support the culture and character of our community?
- do we strengthen and support our landscape and habitats?
- do we help to support our rural economy?
- do we run a tourism business which will be viable in the long term?
- do we look to provide an outstanding holiday and guest experience?
You know what… I think we do!
If you’d like to stay with us here at St Oswald’s Farm and experience all Northumberland and the North East has to offer then please go to our website. We’d be delighted to welcome you here, we really would!