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Green Credentials Turn to Gold for Cumbrian Farm

The behind-the-scenes business efforts of a Cumbrian farm have earned it a rarely given gold award from the world’s largest 'green tourism' certification scheme.

Low Sizergh Barn, an organic working farm with a shop, tea room, craft gallery and farm trail on the edge of the Lake District National Park has become the second farm in the North West to be awarded a gold by The Green Tourism Business Scheme (GTBS). This demanding accreditation scheme for tourism and tourism related businesses recognises high levels of environmental and social good practice.

Businesses opting to join the GTBS are assessed by a qualified grading advisor against a rigorous set of criteria, covering a range of areas, including energy and water efficiency, waste management and biodiversity. Those businesses that meet the required standards receive a bronze, silver, or gold award and then continue to work hard to retain or improve their rating. Out of 159 organisations signed up to the scheme in the North West only 32 currently meet the criteria for the gold level.

Commenting on the win, Alison Park, of Low Sizergh Barn, said:

“Governments, businesses and individuals now accept that running a business with the environmental impact in mind not only makes moral sense but also makes good business sense.

“However we couldn’t imagine running the farm any other way. We are fortunate that the way we work has been recognised with this award and that our business approach brings many benefits. It makes what we sell more attractive, strengthens our bonds with customers and visitors, makes this a good place to work and develops goodwill within our supplier community.

“Applying for membership of the scheme is a rigorous process. We're thrilled therefore to have been awarded gold, the top level. There's still a lot more to do, there always will be, and we will need to work hard to maintain this award.”

GTBS Auditor Jo Buffey remarked in her report that: “The whole purpose of the business is to produce, showcase and sell locally grown food, craft and health products and to educate people about the link between consumption and production. So it’s unsurprising that they scored so highly on the purchasing criteria. Even behind the scenes the business is run on environmentally sound and thoughtful lines. The business is fully deserving of the award.”

The business was commended for the range and provenance of the products sold and wholesaled through the farm, farm shop and craft galleries. Top marks were scored for supplier screening, home produced food and drink, local meat and dairy, local organic food, local food network or club, fairtrade food and drink, and, natural shampoos and hygiene products. Low Sizergh Barn’s support of small independent traders and producers was also highlighted. The report said: “The business is highly regarded in the area as a purveyor of all locally grown food and beverage products.”
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For further information please contact Alison Park on 015395 60426 or visit: http://www.lowsizerghbarn.co.uk/.

Notes to Editors:

The Green Tourism Business Scheme (GTBS) is the national sustainable tourism certification scheme for the UK. It is the only certification scheme validated by Visit Britain, through the International Centre for Responsible Tourism (ICRT). Running since 1997, it has 2,000 members across UK & Ireland making it the largest scheme of its kind in the world. The current network of members is comprised of a wide range of business types, including accommodation providers, visitor attractions, corporate offices and others. For more information visit: www.green-business.co.uk

Some of the improvements made which have helped Low Sizergh Barn meet the gold standard criteria include: As part of the 2008 refurbishment of much of the 17th century barn that houses the farm shop, craft and gift galleries and tearoom energy efficient fixtures and fittings were chosen such as push taps, dual flush toilets, and light sensors in the public toilets, new external fitted doors and low energy lighting. Beyond the public eye, energy efficiencies measures were included in the offices and warehouses, converted from farm buildings, as well as in the cold rooms and with the display refrigeration. These measures have reduced electricity consumption. The heating system installed in the barn to improve visitor and staff comfort in the winter is powered by a 90kW wood chip boiler fuelled by local wood. The waste treatment system was changed to a more sustainable system with the addition of a reed bed. The bed provides a third level of filtration for additional water purification. It’s also a mini wetland and as such adds to the bio diversity of the farm.