Deans Court's Sustainability Promise to the Planet
Words by Deans Court, February 2020
Deans Court has been in our family for over 500 years, passed down through generations of our ancestors each proprietor has run our historic country estate in Dorset in their own way - combining their personality with the needs of the day to ensure that the house and grounds survive and continue to sustain everyone that lives and works here.
Today, we have developed a business at Deans Court that means we can share everything that is so special about it with visitors locally and from afar. We run weddings in our ancient grounds, feed customers with the seasonal produce grown in our organic kitchen garden from our cafe, and welcome groups of families and friends to stay in our holiday properties, browse our home store and, on selected days of the year, take tours of the house. We have always believed in living in tune with nature and the seasons and our impact on the environment has always been something we are incredibly aware of and have made continuous efforts to reduce.
However, this year as a new decade dawned in the wake of even more environmental catastrophes across the world we woke up to the fact that our efforts could go further. So, with the help of our new Sustainability Manager, Katherine, we've spent the beginning of this year putting together a plan for how we can become a low-waste business. This is a long term project and we're taking it one step at a time, starting in our shop and cafe where we have introduced new processes and technology as well as now using only local suppliers.
You can read more about this below where we're also sharing exciting new products in our home store from our trip to India and, of course, a delicious seasonal recipe to make at home.
In order to implement our new sustainability processes properly, we are closing our cafe next week. This will give us a chance to give it a good spring clean and new lick of paint while ensuring that everything works properly! Therefore, we'll be closing it for one week from the 2nd till the 7th March. Reopening on Monday 9th with a revamped interior and all our new low-waste processes in place.
Our home store will also be closed but will be open on Friday 6th & Saturday 7th March from 10am-3pm.
Meet Our New Local Suppliers
Dorset is full of the most wonderful independent businesses and entrepreneurs and from the 9th March, almost everything in our cafe that we can't grow ourselves will be sourced from a local business or individual. We'll be talking more about this on Instagram but for now, we're introducing you to a few of our wonderful suppliers below!
All our milk now comes from Meggy Moo's Dairy, a family-run dairy farm nestled in the shadow of Hambledon Hill, Blandford. From their dairy, they produce gently pasteurised, unhomogenised whole & semi-skilled milk which is delivered in large refillable pails rather than plastic containers. We are now using Meggy Moo's milk in our cooking and coffees (non-dairy milk is still available).
When Peter Morgan decided to start his Dorset cheese-making business he sought the advice of experienced and professional cheese-makers. They each said the starting point was to buy some books and read as much as possible. After that, it's just "bucket science". Keep playing until you make something that you like - and you think someone will buy! Well, that's exactly what Peter did and we're pleased to say that the advice paid off as his cheeses are delicious and you can now taste them in our cafe!
Honeysuckle Cottage Eggs
While we use as many of our own free-range chickens' eggs as possible we like to allow our hens to have a natural rest from laying during the winter months so we buy in extra eggs from a local supplier called Clive Bevin. Clive's chickens are all extremely well looked after and roam free-range on his Dorset farm. They share a field with Clive's Jersey cows and feast on fresh grass which means their diet is packed with omega-3.
We made this cake for our cafe last weekend and it was so popular it almost flew off the counter on Saturday morning! If you have carrots growing in your vegetable patch right now, or perhaps followed our Apple Cider Vinegar recipe in the autumn and still have some in your cupboard, this is the perfect recipe in which to use them. The cake is sweetened only with maple syrup and the ACV gives it a deliciously sharp citrus tang.
Some of you will have noticed that a few goodies from Ali's buying trip to India have started to appear in our home store. Well, when we re-open on March 9th you can expect a whole lot more! We've got beautiful fabrics, handmade stationery, a new collection of clothes, and lots of lovely accessories. We are also focusing on sourcing and selling a selection of products that help make living (stylishly) sustainably easier. Try using our beeswax wraps instead of clingfilm, swapping to a beautiful biodegradable waffle tea towel or replacing your old synthetic kitchen broom with one handmade in India from natural fibres.
Working together with Katherine, we've put in a place a number of procedures and new ideas to try to ensure that we waste as little as we can in our cafe and shop.
One of the most important ways to improve our waste situation is to ensure that all biodegradable waste i.e. things that will rot are returned to the earth through composting and are not trapped in landfills or sent to incineration where their organic potential will be lost. While we compost garden waste on-site in the open air, this is not suitable for waste from our cafe as it includes cooked food and plate waste. We are now using an innovative HOTBIN, a composting bin that allows bacteria to break down food waste by reaching high temperatures - it reached 50°C this week! This allows us to now divert all our organic waste to this on-site system and put the finished compost back into our garden. This example of a closed circular system is the ideal answer to waste problems, and we hope to find similar solutions for all our remaining waste in the future.
We are now using wooden and natural bristle brushes for washing up and cleaning. These are biodegradable, can be composted at home and the wood can be re-purposed. These rather lovely Redecker ones are also available to buy from our home store.
From March 9th when our cafe reopens all our food will be stored in reusable containers or wrapped in beeswax wraps (available to buy from our home store) rather than using cling-film.
We will also be using biodegradable parchment paper that can be composted on site.