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Sustainability in action
How one couple are making green tracks on North Devon's Tarka Trail
18-06-2014 | Yarde Orchard has been meeting the refreshment and accommodation needs of cyclists on the Tarka Trail in North Devon for more than a decade.
The camping field at Yarde Orchard currently has three yurts, a bunkhouse and room for 15 tents, but the couple plan to expand it further
Originally set up in 2003, the site, which houses a licensed café, three Yurts, an eco friendly bunk house and a camping site big enough for 15 tents, is a welcome rest point for thousands of cyclists and locals every year.
Yarde Orchard is also totally sustainable - it has a reed-bed waste system, solar thermal heating, wood fire ranges in its bunkhouse and in the café's kitchen, wood burners in the yurts and any power it does take from the mains is 100% renewable. The food and drink in the café is locally sourced, organic or Fair Trade.
In December, it was bought by husband and wife sustainability enthusiasts Simeon and Kelly Day who plan to use the business as a wonderful example of how living sustainably is not only environmentally friendly but practical and economically viable too, as Simeon explains.
"We have been intimately involved with the running of Yarde Orchard for more than a decade and for the past three years I have been running sustainability courses here.
"We are both passionate about what Yarde Orchard represents, so when the previous owner announced he was retiring and wanted us to take over the businesses we felt like we had won the lottery and grabbed the opportunity with both hands."
"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."
Simeon Day, owner, Yarde Orchard
The couple, who have two small children, used the equity from the sale of their house along with a mortgage from ethical and sustainable bank Triodos to purchase the site.
"Triodos were absolutely fantastic," says Simeon. "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."
They closed the café down for three months while they refurbished the site, replacing the ramshackle collection of furniture to create a vibrant new space using 'up-cycled' and reclaimed materials.
Simeon and Kelly plan to build on what has already been achieved at Yarde Orchard and take the business forward.
"Everyone can have a little bit of sustainability in their lives," says Simeon, "and by demonstrating real sustainable living we hope to encourage others to start making changes too."
"We are not saying you have to be barefoot living in the woods, but if everyone did their little bit the world would be a very different place," he said.
As cycling is a sustainable activity, Simeon and Kelly have a constant supply of like-minded customers coming past every day; an estimated 17,000 pass the café on the Tarka Trail and Devon Coast to Coast route each year. Locals love it too and continue to show their support by regularly visiting the café and bar.
While the couple need the business to be commercially viable, that is not why they have taken it on, and say too much commercialization would take away the essence of what Yarde Orchard is all about.
"We are not here for the money," says Simeon. "Yes, we have to make a living, but for us, this is a lifestyle choice. We want to be an example of successful sustainable living that can be achieved in a conventional way and show people that if you really want to make a difference, it is actually a lot easier than you think.
He concludes, "We are very excited about our future here and can't wait to put all our ideas into action."
This project has been supported by a Triodos Bank loan.