The cottage provides peaceful, technology-free accommodation for visitors to Iona. We offer a contemporary vision of land use that honours the past while working towards a new and sustainable future. We encourage guests to help on the croft so that they can discover more about crofting, small-scale ethical food production and our interaction with the land. We believe it is important to demonstrate that small-scale and traditional farming or crofting still has many lessons for us all and can be both environmentally appropriate and compassionate.
We work to enhance the diversity of species that live on the site and to encourage the return of those, such as the Corncrake, which have dwindled over the centuries. Our long-term project is to both maintain the site as working agricultural land (which is the main social and cultural influence on this particular landscape) and to restore and enhance its biodiversity.
The cottage provides charming and high quality accommodation for its guests. Many return year after year contributing socially and financially to the local economy. Blankets from the wool of our black Hebridean sheep are woven locally providing valuable employment. These blankets are used throughout the cottage and are for sale to guests. On a practical level, the cottage also uses ‘eco’ materials, we recycle, compost and offer to our guests our home produced mutton.
The Isle of Iona has recently been awarded Fair Trade status. We fully participate in this local initiative which operates on both micro and macro-economic levels. On Iona, this ethos of ‘fair trade’ extends from consideration and economic support for producers in developing countries to our own local business relationships.
We also promote ethical and responsible travel and encourage visitors to take responsibility and lessen their impact while they are here and when they go home.
Iona has just become a 'Fair Trade Island' (the only other one in Scotland being the aptly named Fair Isle). We buy and promote a Fair trade policy in both businesses and were part of the local group setting up our Fair Trade status. We are both closely involved in Slow Food, promoting Slow Food through our businesses, selling our produce through Slow Food events and working loosely with other Slow Food Members in the Hebrides to set up a Slow Food Network. We are both committee members of Holiday Mull and Iona and have just spent the summer, with others, revising policy and long term goals so as to focus primarily on eco-tourism objectives.
We are members of the local, as yet informal and embryonic sustainable energy group. We support MSF and RSPCC by regular charitable donations and I am a member of LEAF (Linking Farming with Environment). We support their work and I promote it through the hostel. I am a member of the Crofting Foundation: the renamed Crofters Union. The Foundation reflects our environmental ethos and our involvement in local produce, animal welfare (also a member of Compassion in Farming), community and landscape. It also promotes diversification and eco-tourism / agri-tourism.