The alternative holiday accommodation such as Shepherd huts, Gypsy caravan's, Tipi and Yurts are all incredibly popular across Britain these days and are becoming the preferred living quarters for the growing number of festival goers: they also offer a great diversification opportunity for many farmers/landowners to take an income from.
CLA members Margot and Anthony Porter hosted a Farm Diversification day for over 30 CLA members last month and explained that they had researched a number of different options in the alternative accommodation sector on their 130 acre mixed organic farm Ty Gwyn in Radnorshire, but were keen to have something that could extend either side of the holiday period.
Today they are now just putting the final touches to their straw bale lodge and are expecting the first guests in time for the Royal Welsh in July. Fully insulated using over 180 well compacted dry wheat straw bales, a cedar shingle roof, plus sheep wool insulation in the loft to really maximise its energy efficiency, the house will accomodate four people and has the luxuries of a wood burner, a cooker plus hot and cold running water and a bathroom. All walls are coated with lime mortar.
"Even in the freezing weather the lodge seemed warm without any heating just because of the materials used," says Margot.
The stunning spot only 2.5 miles away from Llandrindod Wells offers peace and tranquility if desired or it can be action packed with getting involved with the daily activities on the farm which consists of a flock of Lleyn ewes which lamb in April along with the suckler herd of native breeds plus horses, chickens and the dogs, explains Margot. It also offers a number of country courses such as gun dog handling, dry stone walling and walking through history which is led by a local landscape historian.
The house gained planning permission without any problems, according to Margot, who said that other than putting in lay-bys on the lane to the farm, it was a pretty straightforward process. "Anthony drew up the plans himself and the local planning officer was very interested in our project and fully supportive," she says, predicting that the £31,000 cost for the building will be paid back in about five to six years.
The farm is in the new Welsh agri-environmental scheme Glastir which helps to maintain old pastures, allows hedges to grow thicker and taller and maintains ditches and ponds and works well with the rich habitats that already exists on the farm. Bird boxes of different sizes and shapes has already attracted a wide variety of birds.
The farm already has a conference/meeting room in an old cruck barn with WiFi access. Being set in beautiful surroundings with plenty of free parking it attracts businesses making use of the facilities for meetings and other events. It also lends itself to other types of events and reunions and can be set up in a variety of styles.