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Farm Stay UK in Eco Gardening Initiative



One of the region’s leading centres for eco gardening is working with Farm Stay UK in a partnership to help promote sustainability in the North East tourist industry.


Birkheads Gardens and Nursery in Sunniside has been an exemplar of eco-friendly gardening since its creation 25 years ago, when farmland used for open cast mining was transformed into a thriving rural business.


Proprietor Christine Liddle started with a modest ambition - to do her bit for the environment - but in the process has created a beacon of best practice for others to follow.


She said: “We wanted to operate in an environmentally friendly way without visitors necessarily being aware that we were doing so.


“Now we want to encourage others, so we are inviting a group from Farm Stay UK Durham to come and look at how we work on Friday February 26 in the hope they will spread the word to their members who own farms and cottages used in tourism and also their guests.


The Birkheads Gardens, ornamental features and public land have all been created using recycled paving, slate and driftwood while the car park and public areas have been constructed with gravel and hardcore to allow water to drain back into the earth.


The Gardens uses only sustainable local produce and composts its waste which in turn is used to create the raised beds used in the wellbeing garden, which contains vegetables and herbs for health.


A wormery is used for its kitchen waste and there is coordinated recycle, reduce and reuse strategy in operation plus a green transport plan for visitors.


Hilary Johnson, chair of Durham Farm Stay UK, said: “Working sustainably is at the very heart of the Farm Stay ethos. Members want to demonstrate their respect for the countryside by operating an eco-friendly business and tourists expect traditional farm hospitality to have green credentials.”




Note to editor:


A dozen members of Farm Stay UK will be treated to a compost training morning on Friday 26 February from 10.30am at Birkheads Secret Gardens.


For more information on Farm Stay, please visit


Birkheads Secret Gardens season starts with the ‘Snowdrops in the Green’ event on  Saturday  & Sunday 27th/28th February until September 26th 2010.  


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