Yew Tree Farm
Sustainable Legacy Creates Excellent Investment for Yew Tree Farm
Yew Tree Farm Shopping Village, located in Warwickshire, is owned and managed by the Haimes family. Whilst still operating as an arable farm, outbuildings that used to house cattle have been converted into commercial units for a range of local businesses from antiques, crafts, clothing and garden furniture to a farm shop and café using local produce. The shopping village, which is set around an attractive courtyard, attracts people to the area from far and wide with its rural character.
With a large heating demand spreading across many buildings, the farm’s old oil boiler not only proved inefficient and prone to breakdown, but also very expensive to run. Keen to reduce their dependency on fossil fuels and improve comfort levels for both the shopping village and farm house, the Haimes family contacted Ecovision to find a suitable solution. Jo Haimes, who shares the running of the farm with her brothers, said: ‘We saw an advert in The Farming Journal and what stood out for us was that Ecovision was indorsed by the NFU’. Ecovision have vast experience in designing district heating solutions for properties whereby the heat from a particular source is distributed over a number of buildings requiring space and water heating, such as the heating system found at Yew Tree Farm.
Ecovision have designed and installed thousands of renewable heating solutions in a variety of different properties. There are three main solutions available. Heat pump technologies are based on one simple principal, heat transfer, using a small amount of energy to transfer low grade heat, from the ground, air or water, to high grade heat, suitable for heating water to high temperatures. Alternatively a Biomass system works by replacing your existing fossil fuel boiler or boilers with one that runs on wood fuel to provide heat, whilst a Biomass Combined Heat and Power system uses the wood fuel to create both heat and electricity for a property. All types of technology can be connected to the existing heating system and can provide both heat and hot water to the property all year round.
Wootton Wawen, the village in which Yew Tree Farm is located, translates as “farm near a wood”, reflecting the scenery surrounding the area. The Haimes family looked to their own woodland as a sustainable source of heating, “We chose a biomass system as we have 400 acres of woodland which we eventually intend to self-supply woodchip fuel” Jo Haimes comments, “Our father, John Haimes, while principally a farmer at heart, loved his woodland and spent many hours planting thousands of trees throughout his life. He was passionate about trees.”
Ecovision installed a 200kW ETA Biomass Woodchip Boiler and 5000L buffer tank which provides heating and hot water to all the commercial units and the Haimes’ family farm house. The system is housed in an attractive plant room, constructed using timber from their own woodland. Including the building of the plant room, the cost of installation was just over £225,000. Typically, a business can see a return on investment in around 7 years. A typical return is based on a saving of around 30 % (in comparison to oil) on annual heating costs per year and the payments available from the Government funded, Renewable Heat Incentive, which is paid to those who install Heat Pumps or Biomass. Yew Tree Farm will benefit from the Non-Domestic tariff, which pays the property owner for every kilowatt of heat and hot water produced, over a 20 year period. “The RHI was a key factor in our decision to move to renewables”, comments Jo Haimes.
Not only does the Biomass installation provide a sustainable, cost-effective heating solution for the farm, but it has also improved comfort levels for the shop owners, “The comfort is great, the farmhouse and the shops have never been so warm and cosy. It has much improved and expanded the heating system compared to what we had previously. It is much more comfortable in the shops for the staff and customers alike”, states Jo Haimes. Ecovision worked alongside the Haimes family to ensure that the transition to renewable technology was as smooth as possible and didn’t interfere too greatly with the running of the businesses and farm, “Everyone at Ecovision has been very friendly and helpful and all problems that have arisen have been dealt with quickly and efficiently. When the heaters were being fitted in the shops the fitters did their best to fit in with everyone so it did not disrupt their business too much.”
A significant factor in Yew Tree’s transition to renewable heating technology is the surrounding woodland on the farm, which not only provides pleasure to those walking through it, but can now act as a source of heating to these visitors. The off-cuts produced in this management process can then be processed into wood-chip to fuel the Biomass Boiler. The need to maintain the woodland is crucial to the many wild flowers which grow on its floor, as many varieties of these plants will struggle to survive in continuous shade. Thinning the trees therefore introduces light for the flower’s regeneration, as well as encouraging associated insects, birds and other wildlife. Yew Tree Farm has become well known for the annual Bluebell Walk charity event which has been taking place each spring for the past 30 years. People of all ages come together to walk a leisurely two mile trail while bluebells carpet the farm’s 400 acres of woodland. The money they raise supports a different charity each year, in 2015 making £23,000 for Stratford Cancer and Eye Hospital.
“We started the Bluebell Walk nearly 30 years ago as Dad was so proud of his woods and the Bluebells are probably the biggest area of natural Bluebells in Warwickshire, he was keen to share the beauty with the public.”, explains Jo Haimes. “The first walk was in aid of our local parish church and attracted several hundred people. Over the years it has grown every year and now attracts thousands of adults, kids and the biggest assortment of dogs you have ever seen. Everybody young and old seems to enjoy it! We hold the event over a weekend when we judge the Bluebells to be at their peak.”
Biomass technology has proved an ideal solution for Yew Tree Farm in meeting the business’ heating and hot water demand, improving comfort to all its tenants and to those visiting the shopping village, whilst also providing an economical alternative to oil, saving the business up to 30% on heating bills annually. The passion the Haimes family demonstrate for the farm’s woodland has played a key role in their move to a renewable future, continuing the sustainable legacy left by their father.