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Our Green Story: Black Isle Permaculture & Arts

21/10/2020

   

We are Black Isle Permaculture & Arts (BIPA), an ecological household, garden and woodland on the Black Isle, 13km north of Inverness. A small scale business partnership run by Clive Brandon and Julie Plumridge, we offer eco tourist accommodation, learning experiences and volunteering opportunities covering a variety of topics focused on sustainable and regenerative living, such as forest gardening, organic food growing and preserving. Permaculture is a holistic approach is completely integrated in the way we live and operate the business.

The household and gardens are being transformed to create a balanced ecosystem for people, plants and animals while also adapting to the unfolding climate and ecological crisis. On the 2.5 acre garden and woodland, we aim to live a creative, sustainable and resilient lifestyle by the three simple principles of People Care, Earth Care and Future Care: a place where people can visit, stay, learn and share. This means all these aspects are considered for every part of our business and lifestyle.

On-site, we have built a compost toilet and a Yurt for use during events and workshops, and 'Siskin' eco cabin for guests wanting an off grid, low impact holiday. The cabin is powered by low energy lights from solar charged batteries, has a green sedum roof, uses renewable and eco friendly materials such as locally sourced larch, sheeps wool insulation, a compost toilet, an upcycled whisky barrel as a shower, plastic bottles for lightshades, recycled fabrics, refurbished chairs and  even the shelves and table are made from beech cut and milled from our own trees right in front of the cabin. All the cleaning products and processes are eco friendly and some homemade.

We have used natural and organic materials to eco renovate the bungalow and installed renewable energies such as solar PV, solar hot water and biomass heating, as well as improvements to reduce our energy consumption and carbon footprint. We try to reduce single use plastic as much as possible, through reusing and recycling, but also buying food in bulk from local suppliers such as Highland Wholefoods workers co-operative and Let's Go Lentil, a packaging free food company.

We have a mosaic of meadows, forest gardens, mixed woodland, a kitchen garden growing vegetables, salads, herbs, fruit, polycultures of wild flowers for insects and pollinators, and some free range hens. We use organic and no dig methods to create healthy soil, working with closed loop systems so nothing is wasted, either through composting, wormeries, mulching, and reusing/upcycling materials. Many of the foods we grow are turned into products such as jams, which we use to make our organic breakfast hampers for guests, which are also plastic free. Making sure that nature and wildlife are nurtured though all our activities is of upmost importance, and guests here share the space with the community of red kites, tawny owls, rooks, hedgehogs, field voles, frogs, toads, lizards, and many other birds, animals and insects.

We encourage guests to come by public transport as we are close to Inverness by bike, train, bus and coach and we are linked with Black Isle Tourism, promoting slow and sustainable travel in the region through active travel maps which we supply to our guests. We have a new bikeshed we built at the entrance and future plans to have an EV charging point.

This year we have been able to offer 'Siskin' cabin via Airbnb, and in 2021 we will complete a second, slightly larger cabin. We also hope to be able to start weekend taster experiences for people wanting to learn more about Permaculture living. Follow our Facebook page @BIPASCOTLAND or visit our website for details of upcoming events. And we are of course looking forward to being able to welcome visitors and volunteers back!