Seahorses Guest House has an ideal of continual improvement regarding our commitment to the environment. Some of our practical applications are shared with our guests on this website and as we implement further steps on this path of improvement we will update our website to reflect this.
Overall Picture of Responsibilities
Seahorses is responsible for nearly three acres of land comprising a mixture of mown lawn, orchard, large vegetable garden and many varieties of trees and shrubs. Our eastern boundary runs adjacent to Afton Marsh Nature Reserve resulting in a rich mix of wildlife including mammals such as badgers, foxes and red-squirrels and birds such as water-rail, wood-cock and heron to name but a few. There is a public footpath running through Seahorses which connects walkers to the coastal footpaths of West Wight in one direction and to the Western Yar estuary in the other, both offering wonderful views and direct contact with nature at its best. At Seahorses we feel we are stewards of our little bit of this wildlife corridor and we take this responsibility seriously.
General Approach to Land Management
To encourage as much wildlife as possible we attempt to create a mixture of cultivated and wild areas in a practical way which also integrates re-creation for our guests such as seating areas and places for games (such as badminton). We have some areas of mown lawn and some areas of uncut grass. We notice that many song birds use the mown areas to feed on worms as do the green woodpeckers that look for ant hills. Over the years we have planted a mixture of trees and shrubs which encourage birds which feed on berries in the autumn and winter. We continue to place nest boxes around our site and also to create bird feeding & drinking stations at a few strategic places. Over the years we have noticed how implementing the above have noticeably increased both the number and species of birds. Our gardens are cultivated organically and are pesticide free.
Growing and Purchasing our Food
Seahorses Guest House offers a choice of breakfasts to our guests and three meals a day for our own resident Companions. As much as possible we grow our own vegetables and fruit, but this can never cover all our needs. Free range eggs and pork are sourced locally and as far as possible we support the local co-op which has an ethical approach to both its consumers and suppliers. During the autumn our kitchen is a hive of activity turning our tomatoes, apples, plums, pears and quinces into jams and chutneys. The vegetable garden produces regular crops of strawberries, beans, tomatoes, squash and lettuces, to name but a few of the varieties grown. No pesticides or fertilizers are used. All composting is done by transforming our kitchen and garden waste back into the land through a series of bins and natural heaps. All leaf mould and grass cuttings are also added to the compost. Occasionally we add some local farmyard manure to the growing beds.
As indicated above, we have been recycling all our organic waste for over twelve years, so the garden soil has built up a rich texture able to support dry periods which occasionally occur on the Island. The compost system we use goes through three phases. Kitchen waste is sorted into cooked and green. The cooked waste is layered between a sweet bran mixture (which prevents smells) into buckets which when full are mixed with the green waste into five large compost tubs. When this has broken down it is moved to the garden compost heaps to break down further together with grass cuttings and leaf mould. In the spring most of the compost has become a lovely dark loam which is sparingly added to the growing beds. Rainwater is harvested in eight large tubs spread around the property. In the future we intend to increase this number. We collect and sort our paper, glass, metals, plastics and batteries etc. which are then taken to the local recycling tip weekly. Waste is kept to an absolute minimum at Seahorses.
As Seahorses has guests all of which use showers and baths, sunlight is harvested for hot water production with four large solar panels. In the future we will be researching further panels for electricity production. In addition we have two wood-burning stoves and an open fire which supplement our heating needs.