Our Commitment to Sustainability
The Newbold Trust is committed to the idea of building a culture of sustainability, both as a community and as a social enterprise. As a community we work to create sustainable relationships, in recognition that the inter-connected nature of life is key to creating a more holistic approach to how we live and care for our environment. As a social enterprise we aspire to work in a way that is synergistic, collaborative and future-orientated. Contributing to the growth of life sustaining systems for all is a part of our vision.
In our daily lives we recognise that cultivating a spiritual practice that connects us to a deeper wisdom is an essential component of a sustainable and fulfilled life. Whilst recognising there is a spiritual dimension to life, we are not associated with one particular religion and are open to many different spiritual traditions provided they encourage loving connection. In order to acknowledge and support our connection to each other and to all life we begin each day by sitting quietly together and checking in with each other before starting work. We express gratitude and bless our food before each meal, always trying to work with an awareness of our inter-dependence. We also offer a space for our guests and community members alike to share a daily silent meditation to cultivate mindfulness and deep inner listening, followed by the singing of sacred songs from various traditions. We also celebrate the Celtic Festivals as a way of connecting to the natural cycles of the seasons and honouring the rhythms of the natural world.
We have close connections with the Findhorn Foundation, and the much larger community that surrounds the Foundation itself. As members of this larger community through the New Findhorn Association we share the values of the Common Ground. The core principles that inspire and inform all of our activities are:
- deep inner listening, and acting from that Source of Wisdom
- co-creation with the intelligence of nature
- service to the human and natural world
We recognise that we live within an economic system that consistently fails to meet the needs of ordinary people and the environment so we look to play our part in the birth of a new sustainable economy such as is described as “The economy of the common good”
We contribute to our local economy in a number of ways: through our workshops and courses we attract people to the local area (tourism); we support local businesses – when buying food, we source as locally as we can (see Food section) and we use local companies for building and maintenance work. We are part of the Moray LETS (Local Exchange Trading System), which is set up to allow local people to exchange goods and services as an alternative to the cash economy. We are also happy to enjoy the support of Ekopia Resource Exchange, a community benefit co-operative which exists to bring investment to local socially and ecologically responsible businesses.
Our food is organic and as locally sourced as possible. Our menu is mostly vegetarian, but we do eat sustainably sourced meat and fish once a week. Newbold House has a large walled garden and we are able to grow a good portion of our own vegetables and fruit. We also plant to support bees and other insects and encourage birds and wildlife. We make our own bread, apple juice and preserves and keep our own bees for honey and chickens for eggs. We also sell some of our produce through our vegetable box scheme. When we need to buy in we source as locally as we can, for example, when we buy meat we use Macbeth’s a traditional Scottish butcher and game dealer, whose produce is sourced from their own and other local farms, to a very high welfare standard. It’s also important that our suppliers are socially responsible and employ local people. For example, many of our dried goods come from Highland Wholefoods, a local worker’s cooperative. We are involved with Transition Town Forres in the development of a project around food production.
We have our own car share scheme, and also use Moray car share, though for most of our more local journeys we like to use bicycles or go on foot. For those based in the UK it is possible to travel here using a lower carbon option than flying and to encourage people to choose one of these, we can help with planning your transport and route. For those who do need to fly, we can provide an optional offsetting scheme.
We minimise food waste through imaginative use of left-overs and all organic materials are composted. We recycle plastic, glass, metals and paper. We avoid using printed materials and market via the Internet. For any materials we do print we use the award winning environmentally friendly Big Sky printing company based in Findhorn.
Our aspiration is to transform our large 1890’s Victorian country house into a completely carbon neutral base for all our activities. To this end we are currently part of a research programme, looking at five different local sites for bio-mass heating solutions. Using other renewable energy sources including sun and wind are also a possibility for the future.
We also support and have access to a unique eco-village model which has the lowest recorded ecological footprint for any community in the industrialised world, just half the UK national average (www.ecovillagefindhorn.org).
We strive to create a culture of openness and safety where all are encouraged to share their feelings and needs in a way that fosters open-hearted connection through the mindful use of language and deep listening. Various models inform our interactions including Non-Violent Communication and peacemaking agreements from the Way of Council. We have a weekly sharing circle for our community members, to encourage and explore openness & transparency, group coherence, collective wisdom and conflict resolution.
In our meetings we use Sociocracy, a system of dynamic governance that ensures that everyone’s voice is heard whilst facilitating decision making based on the good of the whole.
We are working with partner organisations like True North to provide educational and transformative experiences for disadvantaged social groups such as excluded youth and Dementia Adventure for people living with Dementia and their families. We are looking at ways to increase our connection with the local community through open days, events and our garden, as well forming partnerships with local individuals and organisations like Transition Town Forres, that are able to provide a broad range of educational experiences in many aspects of sustainability ranging from conservation and ecology to conflict resolution and non-violent communication.
We also run a volunteer program in a number of areas including gardening, cooking and the complexities of maintaining a large house. The program also provides a sense of community and identity for the volunteers and develops their team working and communication skills, all of which experience can assist people in taking their next steps in life or finding employment.
We also provide a therapy room (for example, for massage or reflexology) that is used by local practitioners. Within the house we feature artwork by a local artist.
We provide an experience that will help people live more sustainably at home as a result of the skills they can learn here. Depending on the role in which they visit or the course they take these skills may include:
- Caring more effectively for the environment
- Growing your own vegetables and fruit organically and therefore reducing food miles, packaging and agrochemical use and increasing health through high quality food and exercise
- Cooking healthy food from local produce
- Increased knowledge about renewable energy
- Improved communication skills
- Integrating spiritual needs into everyday life
Our activities include a weekly film slot around the theme of sustainability followed by a discussion. We also have a library of books on many topics that fall within this theme available for members and visitors alike to borrow.
It’s important to be clear that we don’t do all these things perfectly ourselves. We are, however, committed to learning by trying things out and often find that we learn from our guests as well. What is important for us is going on a voyage of learning together which is also enjoyable. We are fond of the saying “If it isn’t fun it isn’t sustainable”