We work with respect for the natural environment. It's a great challenge to be ecofriendly and we discover more and more what one can do. It would be a pleasure to discuss our green policy with you, so that we can exchange our ideas and our experiences, to get your advises and to give you ideas what to do at your place. If we all take steps in order to improve, how small they might look, we can all together work towards a healthier (socially, economically and environmently) world.
Here under you will find the things we do in the beginning of 2009.
The management of the farm : - The beauty of the farm Liards was already there before us, and we want to keep it the most natural as possible.
- No fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides in chemical form at our place.
- Creation of hedges, natural barriers and ponds, leaving dead trees in place, as well as untouched spaces and dry stone walls, in order to create niches for animals and insects.
- Refuge LPO (a kind of natural place managed in a way to accomodate birds).
- Exploitation of the fields in cooperation with local organic farmers.
Buying policies :
- We buy from local producers, in order to promote the local economy and to reduce transport and package materials. Thanks to an organic peasant association set up in 2006 (with markets for members), one can find more and more local organic producers. And since 2008 we even serve locally made organic sorbet icecream, made from small fruit produced in the Auvergne.
- If the product we need is not produced locally, we try to buy it from as close as possible (rice from Italy and not from Thailand, oranges from Spain instead of Marocco, ...).
- Of course, we try to follow the seasons, we will not serve you strawberries or fresh green beans in wintertime. But since the season in the Auvergne is very short (mountain area!), we do not stick to this totally, we will serve you tomatoes from the south of France in July, although the tomatoes in Auvergne will only come to mature in August.
- Buying organic – more than 75% of the food is organic - in high season we arrive to pass the 90%
- We give priority to products with packaging that can be returned to the producer
or supplier, with or without deposit paid
- Toilet paper, tissues, kitchen paper and all the paper used in our office is recycled.
- Also all cleaning products, washing liquids, are ecological, except there where
norms are forcing us to use special products.
- Coffee, teac cocoa and chocolat are all fair trade and organic.
- Since 2008, all new bed covers bought is made of organic coton (only the sheet under the down is from linen made by the orthodox monks in Russia; since we lived several winters in Russia, this was locally bought...). The new matrasses are made of natural wool, as well as the new downs, covered with organic cotton. Both are made by ARDELAINE in Ardèche.
- The new beds (those in the Nepal Room bought in 2006 and those in the Terrace Room bought in 2008) are made in Egliseneuve des Liards, by a local artist.
- Rationalisation and grouping of buying in order to minimalise the milage.
- Till 2008, we went each morning to the bakery to buy fresh bread and croissants. This is 15 kms each time, and we cannot combine it with other shoppings, since it is too early in the morning. So, since 2008, we make our own bread; and we make pastries to replace the croissants. Only on Sunday we still go down in the morning to buy bread at the bakery. As a result, we economise 90 kms per week!
- Buying an electric tricycle with big basket for transporting up to 80 kg and with an autonomy of 60 kms: we can do now most of the buying by bike, even with our steep slopes.
- We did not only think about ourselves: we bought also two electric leisure bikes for the clients to discover our beautifull region without polluting it. Of course, the sportives already did this by normal bike, but one really has to be sportive taking our slopes... With the electric bikes, everybody can do it. One has to know that the bikes use very little energy: 500 W (0,5 kW) per 60 kms. This electricity will be produced by solar panels. It will be so nice to drive around, thinking that one does not pollute at all, that one does not use any fossils...
Our own production:
- We have a organic kitchen garden (for those interested: on some parcels we are trying a new method with fresh wood chips; it's called in french BRF - Bois Raméal Fragmenté; does it exist in english? ). Most of our seeds come from Kokopelli.
- A newly planted organic orchard should provide us with a lot of fruit in the near future.
- We are now preparing some parcels with small fruit plantations.
- Home made jams and sirups, with organic sucre and mostly organic fruit. Apple juice is made in those years with a lot of apples (this has not been the case in the last three years: caterpillars and/or late frost destroyed all the fruit or blossoms).
- Our chicken should be able to provide us with eggs, if the dogs were not too eager to find them before us...
- Since 2008 we try to buy some beehives. But bees become quite rare, and we could not find any swarms to buy. Hopefully in 2009 we can have our own honey...
Waste management: - Waste selection: we separate ordinary waste from glass, all that can be put into the French 'bac bleu' (paper, plastic bottles, tins, etc) and compostable waste.
- Encouraging clients to do waste selection: in 2008 we have put boxes for recycable waste next to the Zebra and Blue Room; in 2009 we will do this as well for the Terrace and Nepal Room in 2009. However, it did not work out very well, so we still do waste selection when we are emptying the waste bins in the rooms.
- We use food waste for our rabbits, chicken, goats, cats and dogs; the rest is put on the compost heap and will turn into compost.
- Priority is given to bottles with deposit.
- We print on both sides of a sheet, use sheets with one side printed for drafts, do not print if it is not necessary.
- We do not sell anymore flat water in bottles: the tapwater at Liards is very good quality and does not need any packaging nor transport.
- We bring back package material to the seller / producer so that they can use it again.
- We refuse plastic bags and are using our own bags, boxes, crates,
The result: in the tourist season we have less than 100 litres waste per week, and 3/4 comes from our clients... How to reduce those?
- Using low energy lamps
- Switching off stand-by devices
- Tracking non-useful energy consomption
- Buying and using high efficiency appliances (A or A+)
- Production of electricity (3000 Wc) by 24 m² solar panels to sell to the public grid. For knowing more
- Also the electricity for our electric bicycles will be produced by solar panels (1,5 m²). A battery will take care to produce the minimum wattage for uploading the bike-batteries (150W).
Selection of food waste
- Utilisation of harvested rainwater for the watering of the garden. In 2007 two tanks of 1000 litres have been installed for watering the flower pots, in addition to a digged in rainwater well. The water in this well is used for the kitchen garden, and, eventually, the flower garden.
- Rationalisation of water use. For example, we do not automatically change the towels, we ask you to put them in a basket if you want us to change them. And since 2008 we use a linen sheet under your down. Washing a sheet demands less water (and electricity -also for ironing) than a downcover. The downcovers are washed once in 10 days (approximately); this saves a lot of water and energy, especially with those clients staying for only one night.
- We re-use water from the kitchen (when washing the vegetables) and from the bar for watering the pot plants.
- Two flow toilettes (3/6 litres) – not everywhere yet – to be improved.
- A study has been made for installing a whole system for water harvesting and re-using. The question is now how to finance it.
- Another study has been made for waste water treatment by plants. At this moment we are using a septic tank, but in the future this will be complemented by a purification system with plants.
- We have bought two nice, portable, compost toilettes. Up till now, one has been on demonstration in the main part of the gueshouse, in order to fuel discussions. In 2009, you can 'book' these toilets to be used in the bathroom of your room in the guesthouse. We will take care of emptying the bucket, and to fournish you with sawdust, without any additional costs. So, if you were always eager to find out how it works: this is the occasion.
Firewood for our woodstoves
Heating / insulation:
- Heating is partly done with firewood (from Liards)
- Insulation of the buildings: everywhere the walls
(except in the main lounge) and the roofs are insulated. Everywhere there are double windows.
- We still work with an electric boiler for water heating, but normally, this will change into solar panels for 2009.
Construction: - We only build according to ecological principles, with natural building materials, like lime, hemp, loam and hay. Our paint is also natural, based on linseedoil and natural pigments. Ask us to show you our new constructions
- Since we are passionated about ecological construction, we have many books (mostly in french) about the topic. You can read them at our place. You can also consult magasins like Maison Ecologique (we have almost all the editions) and Les 4 Saisons.
- The window frames, doors and shutters have been paint in 2008. Nico, Bruno and William, who together just created an entreprise for ecological construction CDJ, were willing to test several mixtures with linseedoil and natural pigments. This was not easy, especially because all the advices they got were a bit contradicting... Well, the result: it's nice, but if it will last...?
Mixture of hemp and lime for insulating the walls
Natural ingredients for paint
Cob of hay and loam, with a plaster of lime and hemp
In the beginning, we were rather frustrated: so much that one can do and we did not do enough. Nowadays, although we still see where we can progress a lot, we begin to feel a certain satisfaction with what we do. We can still do more, of course, and each year you will see changes. And we love to get your opinions about what to do. Please, do not hesitate and ask us why we don't do ... This will push us even more. Just to give you an example: longtime we hesitated to use organic sugar, since it comes from far. After being questionned by clients and some discussions, we finally decided to go for it: since 2008 we only use organic cane sugar (fortunately no fair trade, if somebody can help us to an adress where we can buy bags of 25 kgs of organic and fair trade...).
Our projects for the near future:
- Construction of two compost toilets outside.
- Installation of waterflow reducers on taps and showers.
- Installation of solar water heating.
- Installation of solar air heating of the Terrace and the Nepal Rooms.
- Beehives and the production of honey.
- Ecological campside being as autonomous as possible.