This week Oaks Barn Farm has been invited to write a guest blog for Cottagedeal.com, this was both nice and flattering all at the same time.  Sharing the same industry as Cottagedeal.com – Britain’s Hospitality Sector, we already have much in common, while Cottages.com signpost guests towards a wide range of independent providers of accommodation. 

Oaks Barn Farm is just one of those magical places that host guests and work hard to provide an experience that leaves our guests yearning to return.

Who are we?

Oaks Barn Farm is a Family Farm Stay accommodation provider based in the heart of rural Warwickshire, we completed the conversion of our first guest property, The Coach House back in 2006 and now in 2020 we have developed this into a 3 property Farm Stay Experience which can accommodate up to 20 persons.

nitially, Sue and I both worked full-time, Sue for Ofsted as one of Her Majesty’s Inspectors and myself Wayne, worked for Stoke on Trent College delivering Prince’s Trust Programmes.  

Around our busy work schedule, we started to grow a business which might provide some much needed additional income.  As the business grew so to did our realisation that working for someone else was pulling us away from our much-loved home and growing business. So in 2010, I left the college to focus on developing our business but it would be a further 7 years before Sue could do the same.

Wake up moment

2016 was a roller coaster of a year, I was diagnosed with Bowel cancer, had surgery and with a few plumbing alterations, I got the all-clear that the Cancer had been successfully removed. 

I had my first article published in The Farmers Guardian and we were finalists in the British Farming Awards through our digital innovation, using Social Media. The following year we were married and Sue took voluntary exit to spend more time on the farm, and of course with Me.

Farming

As a working farm, we obviously have to both like animals and be good at managing their health and welfare from the point of birth through to playing a part in supplying our livestock to the British Food Chain. We have Sheep, Chickens, and Pigs on the farm and produce our own Eggs, Sausage, Pork, Lamb, and Mutton.  

Oaks Barn Farm Services owned and run by our son Dan who works with local dairy and arable farms, providing an array of slurry solutions for crop growth and waste management.

Our green values

We produce our own electricity from Solar Panels mounted on our agricultural barn, the farm and all of our accommodation is heated by our Biomass Boiler which has allowed us to move away from fossil fuels, whilst also providing an income for the farm.  We harvest rainwater which is used for summertime irrigation on the farm and toilet waste is feather drained into the soil for irrigation.  We manage all of our laundry in-house reducing our reliance on external services.

A quality product

We like our guests to experience a warm welcome to the farm and our focus is on guests returning.  Each of our properties are self-catering, we have just added an additional 2 saltwater hot tubs so that each of the properties can provide total relaxation along with a stunning rural outlook onto open fields.

Our plans amidst COVID-19

When Covid-19 hit, our forward bookings started to cancel from February 2020 onwards. The current aim is that we will be able to re-open on the 4 July. We have contactless entry via our electric gates and we no longer enter the property once cleaned as part of our meet and greet procedure. All surfaces are sanitised and floors are disinfected. Light switches, television remotes and sockets are all Antibac wiped plus much more to ensure guests are protected. PPE is worn for all cleans with obvious changes between cleaning operations.

We have installed Contactless Alcohol Hand Sanitiser points for guest use and have moved all of our welcome pack information to an online resource 

We have removed all throws and runners from bedrooms and all towels and linen are washed to 60 degrees, this is managed in house so external contamination risks are eliminated.  We are waiting on further government guidance but anticipate a 72 hr break between each occupancy.

Fortunately each of our properties and the garden areas are completely self contained, so we are hopeful of having some business opportunity going forward.

Our activity during lockdown

With some amazing weather, we have all of the normal activities of running a family farm stay the only thing missing being the families.  Lambing was busy this year. Our pigs which we thought would be a lovely attraction for our guests are soon to be ready, having not seen a single guest.

Our Local Pub The Tavern at Broom which both us and many of our guests love, has been providing a community takeaway meal service and we have been providing Herbs and vegetables from our kitchen garden to support them.

Doing the right thing

We have managed to transfer and refund 100% of all of our bookings during this period, a stance which we hope will see our business grow when we again are able to open the doors to our guests of Oaks Barn Farm.

Going Forward

Our Plans for a new barn gained approval in May, and we now have an exciting project to focus our energy on.  This will encompass a tree planting and landscaping plan and also the opportunity for further rainwater harvesting in line with our sustainability plan.

Our thoughts for the future, are to find a new version of normality in continuing to provide high quality accommodation with the necessary protection of our farm stay guests.

The outdoor events industry with Ragley Hall, Warwick Castle and the nearby Destination of Stratford upon Avon will each have their own challenges in working out a way forward.  We hope in time our guests will once again have the chance to experience all they have to offer.

 

I would like to thank Wayne & Sue for their guest blog post, if would like to know about them, their farm or book accommodation, please visit their website: Oaks Barn Farm