Archive for the ‘ecoconference’ Category

Organic Gardening

20 March, 2011

The last month has gone by very quickly and with reasonably dry weather we have got on well outside but there is also always plenty of glasshouse work at this time of year with sowing and pricking out and potting on.

We harvested the first forced Rhubarb at the end of February helped on by a relatively mild spell.

forced rhubarb

Forced Rhubarb

Most of the winter Brassicas are now finished and sprout stalks and kale stalks have been chopped up and added to the compost. The ground from these will have manure dug in or rotovated . My preference is always for partial double digging ( forking over the base of the trench)  if time permits. Unfortunately very little of the purple sprouting broccoli survived the severe weather in December.

To help to fill the hungry gap we are now growing sprouting seeds although this will continue all year. These have gone down very well at the conference centre with everyone enjoying the extra flavours. Its been so successful that we have invested in another automatic seed sprouter .As well as those below we are also growing Fenugreek and Buckwheat. Initially they were taking about 7 days from sowing before ready for use but with warmer weather this has reduced to 5-6 days depending on the type of seeds.

sprouting seeds

Sunflower                 Alfalfa

China rose radish  Broccoli  C.R.Radish    Mustard   Mustard

sprouting seeds

China Rose Radish and Mustard

Plenty of young plants are ready to plant out after hardening off in the frames. Most crops are started off in the propagator in modules including multi-seeded onions. Celery and Celeriac (at the front in the picture) are sown in trays and pricked out into modules. After they are established they are moved to a cooler glasshouse as in the picture.

Vegetables and Flowers in Modules

The first batch of lettuce and brassica’s are already planted out under fleece and the first outdoor sown radish also sown and covered with fleece are now up. First broad beans started in the glasshouse in pots are planted and these will continue to be sown at 2-3 week intervals. Parsnips are sown and covered with environmesh which helps to speed up germination as they are usually so slow.

Plenty of herbs are on the go with a selection of basil, mixture of parsley, burnet, chervil, coriander, dill and sorrel.

On the flower side sweet peas are hardening off ready for planting and nasturtiums, viola, nicotiana, poppies, cornflower and schizanthus have been sown and some already pricked out.

All spring pruning is done and most of the mulching is done  with just some areas of the Physic garden to complete.

The first grass cut this year was on 7th March around the vegetable garden, potager and farmhouse.

Jobs for the next month will include marking out all the beds for planting vegetables. They will all be grown on 4’ (120cm) beds. Its not quite a raised bed system but once they are marked out with the 1’(30cm) paths all planting , weeding , hoeing will be done from the paths to maintain a good soil structure for the growing crops. Perennial herbs lost over winter will be replaced.


SLOW FOOD – Wild Game – Fri 26 Nov

29 October, 2010

Yes, another great event by Slow Food Berkshire and Wiltshire!

Wild Game Preparation Evening and Supper

Friday 26 Nov 2010 @ 7pm

Sheepdrove Organic Farm, Lambourn. LOCATION MAP + DIRECTIONS

This is a real hands-on adventure into country cuisine. Preparing wild game for the table will be demonstrated by gamekeepers, and then you get to have a go for yourself. Followed by supper in the rather grand dining room of the Sheepdrove Eco Conference Centre, which is always delightful and delicious.

Naturally we need to know the numbers for supper so please reserve your place as soon as possible!

Slow Food members: £20      non-members: £25

For further details please contact or call 01672 541695.

Sheepdrove Eco Conference Centre wins another top industry award!

10 October, 2008

Sheepdrove Eco Conference Centre has won the prestigious ‘Green Award’ at the Event Awards 2008. Held at the London Hilton, Park Lane in London in September, the awards applaud the work carried out by event professionals from both the client and supplier sides of the industry.

The Green Award is given to companies who are able to prove that the environmental policies they implement have had a significant impact and contributed to a greener events industry. The team were also runners-up for the ‘Venue in-house Events Team of the Year Award’, a major achivement for such a small team!

Sheepdrove Eco Conference Centre

11 August, 2008

Looking for a venue that’s green, eco-friendly, sustainable?
Look no further!

Sustainably designed and run, with its groundbreaking architecture and exceptional location high on the Berkshire Downs, Sheepdrove defines a new approach to conference venues. Just 15 minutes from the M4 and less than one hour from Heathrow Airport, this purpose built centre is housed in a beautiful, eco-friendly building, set at the heart of our farm.

Sheepdrove Eco Conference Centre has a uniquely creative, welcoming atmosphere to inspire fresh thinking, motivate delegates and offer a real taste of organic, seasonal produce. All our clients love the experience and the great customer service – which is why we won the accolade of 2008 Most Excellent Dedicated Venue in the Condé Nast Johansens annual awards.

Contact our friendly team to start planning your event with us.

Carbon event a hit with farmers

19 June, 2008

Jason Ball explained what Sheepdrove is doing about its carbon footprint

Farming Futures today held their very first Carbon Footprint workshop focussed on cattle and sheep farming. Hosted at Sheepdrove Eco Conference Centre, twenty four delegates attended the event, organised in partnership with EBLEX and NFU.

The first speaker was Dr Jonathan Scurlock, chief renewables adviser at the National Farmer’s Union, who arrived in a car running partly on UK biodiesel. The Peugeot 308, a HDi diesel, can run without modification on a 30 per cent blend of biodiesel with mineral diesel, known as B30. Peugeot claims that operation on this fuel leads to around 20 per cent further reduction in net greenhouse gas emissions, bringing the net emissions from the Peugeot 308 to below 100g CO2/km

“We may already be in a Peak Oil situation,” Dr Scurlock said. He summarised the key reasons why Carbon Footprints are important to farmers as Climate Change, Energy Security, Food Security, and the emerging need for businesses to show good Carbon Footprint performance to their customers. 

Dr Liz Genever, from the English Beef and Lamb Executive, presented advice on how cattle and sheep farmers could maximise productivity and minimise methane belched out by their livestock. As ruminants, these animals rely on microbes in their multi-pocket stomach to convert their fibrous food into something their body can use. Methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, is a product of these essential symbiotic helpers.

Farmers can influence the greenhouse effect of their livestock by good soil and grassland management (grazing being the most eco-friendly method to feed sheep and cattle), reducing concentrates and extra feeds with heavy carbon footprints, good breeding, and by sending stock to market before they enter the slowest growing phases, when the animals are less efficient at converting food into flesh.

Dr Genever spoke in defence of British beef and lamb, the target for critics who point out the importance of ruminant methane on a global scale. Celebrity veggie Paul McCartney is one of those who have urged people to eat less meat. (What’s Sheepdrove’s suggestion? Click here.)

“We do need to put this in perspective,” she said, “a kilo of lamb only has a carbon footprint equivalent to driving about 36 miles in a car.”

Sheepdrove Organic Farm is taking seriously the challenge to shrink its Carbon Footprint. Jason Ball, our Manager for Biodiversity and Alternative Energy, led a farm walk to show everyone some of the actions we have taken, and after lunch presented pie-charts and tables to show how Sheepdrove could cut its energy-related Carbon Footprint by over 40%.

“The most important first step is to monitor energy use, reduce it and become more energy-efficient.” explained Jason, “Now we are working to replace fossil fuels with a range of low-carbon alternatives, such as a Solar Tracker to generate power, a micro-scale windmill to power a gate and a wood-fired boiler to heat our new chick nurseries. The ideal is to create renewable energy on the farm, to make ourselves more self-sufficient.”

One of the less obvious ways that the farm has lightened its carbon Footprint is through treating and recycling water ecologically with its reedbed system. A series of specially designed habitats clean over 7 million litres of waste water annually, saving over 3 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) each year.

The most delicious way we are able to reduce climate impact is in the welcoming atmosphere of Sheepdrove Eco Conference Centre, where we provide freshly made food for each occasion. You can’t get much more local, seasonal or organic than our home-grown cuisine! Today’s delegates enjoyed an organic barbecue with onion tart, leaf salad and couscous, followed by the first of the season’s STRAWBERRIES in a delightful sponge.

Sustainable lunchtime - you don't get much more local, seasonal or organic than Sheepdrove

FREE Farmer Climate Change Event 19th June

2 June, 2008

The workshop venue - Sheepdrove Eco Conference CentreIf you’re a farmer or a farm advisor interested in renewable energy and tackling your business Carbon Footprint (and let’s face it, with energy costs growing, we all ought to be!) then sign up for the FREE dedicated Climate Change workshop at Sheepdrove Eco Conference Centre on 19th June 2008.

Help improve your business in the light of climate change, learn about the risks and opportunities, and how to save money! The workshop programme includes: a focus on renewable technology; the issues facing farmers; guidance on how efficiency helps you to shrink your Carbon Footprint; discussion on Agriculture’s role in Climate Change; and a farm walk all about how Sheepdrove is approaching the challenge of Climate Change.

Learn simple ways to improve your bottom line, and reduce your contribution to climate change!

Farming Futures is working with the NFU, CLA and EBLEX to organise the event. They are working  on all sorts of projects to help farmers to improve their sustainability. Farming Futures is a communications collaboration between the National Farmers’ Union, Country Land and Business Association and the Agricultural and Horticultural Research Forum (representing the agricultural and horticultural levy boards), the Agricultural Industries Confederation, Forum for the Future and Defra.

WORKSHOP PLACES ARE LIMITED. To book your place, contact Maya Herbolzheimer, at Farming Futures on: call 0207 324 3622 or 07827 302936.

And then visit the FF website for inspiration and information. They have a wide range of real-life case studies, factsheets, further events in 2008, and regional maps showing likely impacts of climate change – both impacts and opportunities.

Click here to learn more about our conference facilities.

Learn all about it at Ecobuild 2008

15 February, 2008


Alternative energy for your house, bath water recycling, roofwater capture, sheepswool insulation, hemp mortar… whatever you’re interested in, it’s at Ecobuild 2008. So why not check it out? Seeing the exhibitor stalls is FREE and there are free seminars too.

The Ecobuild conference Innovate and Green runs 26th – 28th Feb for the seriously visionary end of the field – designers, architects, planners, engineers. Our very own Jason Ball is going to chair a conference session called New and Natural on Wed 27th Feb.

spiral stairwayHe will introduce the session with a few images of Sheepdrove Eco Conference Centre showing how organic shapes and natural materials have been used at our award-winning building. View a quick animation of the structure here. Jason says, “I’m looking forward to the conference. The session I’m chairing is one of the best, I think, with presentations on mimicking nature, sophisticated use of ecological materials, and fitting into the landscape.”

The enthusiasm for eco-friendly construction and green household technologies really seems to be growing. Ecobuild gets bigger every year, packing out Earls Court. Special features of Ecobuild 2008 include an exciting set of attractions including the Green Dragons Den and Green Shoots – both sponsored by Burdens Environmental to give a platform to new sustainable businesses and entrepreneurs.

jason on roofJason adds, “This will be my 3rd year visiting Ecobuild. The amount of expertise and fascinating ideas under one roof is great. Expect to spend a lot of time at the event – you’ll find a lot to get distracted by. The Green Dragon’s Den will be fun – I’ve already voted online for Quercus!”

> Visit Ecobuild 2008 <

Sheepdrove at Ecobuild 2008

5 December, 2007

an alternative angle to architectureEcobuild 2008 takes place 26th – 28th Feb at Earls Court in London. Jason Ball, our Manager for Biodiversity and Alternative Energy, will chair one of the afternoon sessions of the Innovate and Green conference. Look out for Jason on Wednesday 27th Feb at the module Building the future: new and natural. Details here.

Jason will begin proceedings with the unique architectural example of Sheepdrove Eco Conference Centre. “Where we demonstrate environmental innovation, it’s important to share the Sheepdrove story and encourage people to adopt the successes,” says Jason. 

“We continually strive to be greener with a lighter ecological footprint. The business is always learning, and Ecobuild is an excellent event for fresh ideas.”

Sheepdrove Eco Conference Centre has won:
> Most Excellent Dedicated Venue Award 2008 in the latest Condé Nast Johansens Annual Awards for Excellence. 
> Special Award for Sustainable Architecture in the Civic Trust Awards 2005.

Read more about the building’s excellent green credentials.

Winners – Most Excellent Dedicated Venue

13 November, 2007

Sheepdrove Eco Conference Centre 
Sheepdrove Eco Conference Centre won the title of Most Excellent Dedicated Venue in last night’s award ceremony for the Condé Nast Johansens 2008 Annual Excellence Awards. We are delighted to have achieved this top tribute! Read about the award…

Discover the centre at

special recognition for education work

19 September, 2007

Jason Ball (front left) and other employer award winners

Education Business Partnership West Berkshire held their Employer Awards 2007 yesterday, and Sheepdrove won Special Recognition.

The Mayor of Newbury, Councillor Adrian Edwards presented the Special Recognition award to Jason Ball, who was highly praised by the county’s Education Business Partnership. Jason had created and managed a tailor-made work experience placement for 15 Trinity School students who carried out butterfly conservation work at the farm for a whole week of July. The EBP certificate cites ‘an outstanding contribution to education business links during 2007‘ by Sheepdrove Organic Farm.

Jason’s education business partnership special awardJason later stood alongside other representatives from businesses who won accolades, such as Vodafone and Barclays Bank, for the photographer from the Newbury Weekly News. Look out for the picture in this week’s paper.

The Employer Awards recognise the contributions of hundreds of West Berkshire organisations who host work experience for local students – a very significant step in their personal and career development. Across the UK, the EBP network collaborates with tens of thousands of enterprises to support education nationwide.

Mr Ball adds, “The partnership project between Sheepdrove, Trinity School and EBP West Berkshire would not have been possible without funds from the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. With money from their Sustainable Development Fund, we were able to combine creative butterfly conservation, work experience and a chance raise the awareness of these students about the North Wessex Downs AONB.”