Our Green Environmental Story
Cowshed Creative's commitment
to a Green and sustainable business
We take our responsibility for the environment seriously and have measures in place to ensure that our sustainable Art and Craft course has minimum impact on our beautiful site here in the Kentmere valley within the Lake District National Park and Unesco World Heritage Site.
Cowshed Creative is a relatively new business on our traditional Lakeland family farm. Cowshed Creative offers a programme of high quality arts and crafts workshops in an open plan art studio based in a converted barn. The farm and environment is available for guests to enjoy, take inspiration from and to work out in the landscape, weather permitting.
Following in a great tradition of artists and amateurs taking inspiration from the landscape and wildlife of the Lake District, with such diverse approaches as Turner, Schwitters, Beatrix Potter, Ruskin and Wainwright, to name a few, we hope to nurture your creativity in an art or craft form of your choice, in this very special and beautiful setting.
We include a variety of heritage courses within our programme, celebrating some of the traditional local crafts that have been part of this landscape for years. We encourage visitors and those from our local area to enjoy learning these rural skills and employ people living in the area to share their craft and expertise. As well as Spoon Carving and Basket Making, with opportunities to wander on the farm and introduce some of the natural materials you can collect, into your basket making, we also run workshops on Dry Stone Walling. This provides the opportunity to be outside on a traditional lakeland farm, understand some of the heritage of this craft, that is such a huge part of the lakeland landscape, and work with an expert to gain the confidence you need to build your own dry stone walls. We also promote traditional crafts such as pottery, allowing our guests to experience the excitement of being involved in a Raku firing.
The history of the Kentmere valley is closely tied to the textile trade. Sheep on the fells provided the fleece for wool, knitting and woven fabric, that was a large part of the income for families in the valley. The river Kent provided the force of water to power the various mills that follow its path down the valley, including Ulthwaite mill on our farm. The Kentmere valley also provided some of the plants, such as Gorse, Weld and Dyers Greenweed, traditionally used to dye the wool. The mill yard in nearby Staveley produced the wooden bobbins for the washed and spun yarn. We feel that this link with our local heritage is really important and we have also chosen to include a number of felt, textile, weaving and dye courses in our programme, all with a contemporary twist, that tie into a sense of place and history.
We are off grid and encourage visitors to enjoy the peace, escape Wifi and phones and make the most of being here or enjoying the space outside.
Along the external boundary of Cowshed Creative art studio garden, we have planted native hedges; including crab apple, wild roses, hawthorn, blackthorn and honey-suckle to provide food and habitat for birds and insects. We have put up swallow ledges in the outhouses below the studio to encourage nesting sites. We also have a number of bird boxes and feeders in the trees to encourage the wide range of wild birds found on the farm.
Our gardening methods have been organic for years and we use our own animal fertiliser, wood chip and compost. We also recycle sheep fleece in the bottom of our garden tubs in order to help retain moisture.
We decided we needed an alternative renewable energy source and in 2012 we installed 16 4kw photovoltaic solar panels on the Cowshed and in 2014 we installed a 50 KW Eta Wood Pellet Boiler. These supply heat and electricity to our art studio. Any surplus energy is exported back to the grid. The wood we use in the wood burner is from trees on the farm that have either fallen in storms or were cut as part of a flood prevention scheme with the South Lakes Rivers Trust and Natural England.
Public transport and green alternatives
We provide information about public transport both on our website.
Staveley railway station, on the branch line that connects to Oxenholme mainline station is 2 miles from the farm; a 10 minute bike ride or ½ hour walk. The 555 bus service through Staveley to Kendal or in the other direction to Windermere, Ambleside and Keswick
We provide a free parking space but encourage visitors to lift share or to come by bike or ebike if they live nearby.
On the Farm
Our farming methods are sustainable and we are proud to be part of a Higher Level Stewardship and work closely with Natural England. We have reduced the number of sheep to allow natural regeneration of wild flower, insects and birds in the upland. Our three Belted Galloway cows play their part by creating divots to allow wild flower seed to regenerate amongst the grasses. We have been involved in a large-scale native tree-planting scheme, planting 18,400 trees, over the last two years, which will create areas of deciduous woodland in the long term as well as growing some large parkland trees. Whilst we have numerous mature trees on the farm, we are really excited to be planting trees that will mature for the next generation and provide habitat for insects, birds and animals.
The River Kent, a Special Site of Scientific Interest, runs through the farm, home to the White Claw Crayfish which is a rare, protected species. In partnership with Natural England & South Cumbria River Trust, we have created a flood plane along a stretch of the farm to stem the speed of the river when in spate, to help reduce flooding in Staveley. We have also blocked old drainage systems on the higher land to create natural bog.
Cowshed Creative has a detailed website, with lots of information about our services and facilities. We advertise this via a number of commercial websites and through social media. The only printed material we have are business cards and a small number of printed fliers that we display in local libraries, cafes and shops. All our office paper is recycled.
Keeping it local
We employed local skilled people for the barn conversion and bought materials locally for the work. We use traditional lime render to maintain the walls in the art studio. We employ local artists and crafts people to run our workshops except for occasional specialist guests.
We promote local businesses; shops, cafes, pubs and farmers markets on our social media and blogs, as well as relevant cultural activities, exhibitions and tourist attractions.
All our cleaning products are environmentally friendly and we make bulk orders of cleaning products, loo paper and paper hand towels (introduced for Covid) to reduce road miles and packaging, refilling washing-up and toilet cleaner bottles.
We recycle plastics, paper and cardboard, tins, cans and bottles.
We aim to make innovative changes and developments to make our business more green and sustainable and review and update our policy regularly.