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Sustainable wedding venue bell tents

Our sustainability journey

Sustainability has always been at the heart of our business here at Southend Barns. Right from the start we developed our barns with the environment in mind and are passionate about playing our part in protecting our planet.

However, the quest to be carbon net zero is not a static one, it is vital we continue moving forward to reduce our carbon footprint further and become an even more sustainable and environmentally responsible wedding venue.

We recently undertook a carbon footprint audit which highlighted recommended changes to focus on over the next five years. There is a long road ahead and we know it’s no simple task, but we plan to do our very best to monitor and improve our practices, one step at a time, during the next phase of our sustainability journey.

Our venue

Our journey to sustainable weddings

Our journey so far includes the installation of a biomass boiler and solar PV panels as well as the use of net zero company vehicles. We also have a careful waste management system in place for across the venue and office.

Our exterior lighting is being upgraded to low energy LED, it will be controlled by timers allowing us to ensure they are on only when needed.

Our food

Our journey to sustainable food

Food is important to us here at Southend Barns and a big part of our more sustainable future. Many of the ingredients we use are from our working farm or grown in our Kitchen Garden, including honey from our own bees and we will soon be using flour made using our own wheat.

We are passionate about where our food is sourced from, the journey it has been on and how it is then used in our dishes. We have made it a focus to use predominantly local suppliers and where possible buy only local produce.

Food waste is also important and an area that we are working on constantly to improve. Our raw food waste is composted on the farm and re-used in our Kitchen Garden. We are also conscious of reducing glass and plastic products and are asking all our suppliers to reduce their packaging where possible.

The journey ahead is a long one, but our entire team is dedicated to making positive changes for the environment without compromising our weddings. We know we can’t do this without the support of our couples and suppliers and hope you will join us in our long-term ambition to reach carbon net zero.

Our sustainability timeline 2022-26

2022

Carbon footprint offsetting

Bell tent wedding accommodation, West Sussex

Southend Barns starts the journey in reducing its carbon footprint offsetting.

  • We create a 5 year plan with targets and goals to becoming net zero. We instruct a consultant to calculate the carbon footprint for Southend Barns. We know we can reduce the use of carbon sources and we co-operate with Southend Farm to start to offset the weddings.
  • Southend Barns produces 184 tons of CO2. We are committed to reducing this over the next 5 years.
  • Southend Barns and Southend Farm have had a biomass boiler supplying hot water and heat since 2012. The estate also has three reservoirs that feed our irrigation system for both the wedding venue and farm.

2022

Carbon footprint offsetting

2023

Let's Go! Net Zero

Let's Go! Net Zero West Sussex logo

Southend Barns joins Let's Go! Net Zero, a countywide initiative for West Sussex to help you get started on sustainability.

  • Complete an energy efficient test with an online audit.
  • Start to install LED lighting across the venue. The kitchen, toilets, office and accommodation have been completed.
  • Installed Solar PV to two areas to support ongoing energy costs.
  • Our kitchen garden was created to grow vegetables, herbs and some soft fruits to support our busy wedding season.
  • We create our own compost from vegetable peelings for to use in the kitchen garden.
  • Food waste (cooked) collection in collaboration with Chichester district council is set up for our Roots kitchen, this is collected weekly.
  • Install three beehives to create honey for Roots kitchen and also to support the pollination of flowers.
  • EV car scheme started for employees.
  • The venue and farms heating and water runs of a wood-fed biomass boiler.
  • We have three reservoirs that feed our irrigation for the venue and farm.

2023

Let's Go! Net Zero

2024

Energy, waste and fuel

Vintage wedding bus (credit: Kelly Hearn)

  • More solar PV installed on the kitchen roof. These will supply 35% of our energy used throughout the year – complete.
  • Chickens now part of our kitchen garden, supplying us with eggs.
  • Less paper printing and waste with a move towards going digital – May 2024.
  • Carbon offset offering from the farm to the wedding venue, allowing couples to buy for a small charge credits to make their wedding carbon neutral – June 2024.
  • Continue installing energy efficient lighting throughout the venue – ongoing.
  • Reducing glass and plastic use and waste throughout our catering operation – we have draught lager instead of bottled. We also have our own filtered sparkling and still water that uses single reusable glass bottles that are topped up – ongoing.
  • Reducing gas, diesel and petrol usage on machinery and throughout the venue and farm – ongoing

2024

Energy, waste and fuel

2025

Efficiency targets

  • Solar farm planned for two of our reservoirs which will supply the venue 100% of its energy use each year creating a huge carbon saving and offset – planning stages.
  • Regenerative farming project for Southend Farm.
  • To replace two gas boilers we have with air or heat source pumps.
  • To contact all our suppliers including hotels and local accommodation to see what their new zero journey looks like.

2025

Efficiency targets

2026

Energy saving goals

The Collecting Yard (credit: Jessica Lilly Photography)

  • New lighting system for the main barn that is energy efficient, using energy saving technology and a central control point.
  • To research and survey guests attending the venue where they are travelling from and how. We would like to encourage electric car usage and offer electric car charging facilities onsite.

2026

Energy saving goals

Our farm

Farm carbon calculation has been done in the whole of Southend Farm Estate before a change in farming procedures at the end of 2023, implementing in 2024.

The whole farm – 200 hectares – has been converted to a regenerative system. This means we are now sequestering more carbon due to us not ploughing and having crops in the field throughout the year. We are also emitting less carbon due to reducing the use of artificial fertiliser and crop chemicals.

We are planting more hedgerows and managing the hedges by cutting them on a rotational basis; these hedges capture a lot of carbon.

We will be in a position where the farm emits 138T of carbon and we can sequestrate 407 tonnes, so 268 in credit. Due to the work we are doing we can offset each wedding, which produces around 1.47T, a total of 184.3 tonnes per year.

Help us reach carbon net zero

The journey ahead is a long one, but our entire team is dedicated to making positive changes for the environment without compromising our weddings. We know we can’t do this without the support of our couples and suppliers and hope you will join us in our long-term ambition to reach carbon net zero.

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