We’re excited to introduce the newest addition to our grounds: the Raithwaite “no-dig” kitchen gardens.

Why “no-dig”?

Our decision to opt for “no-dig” when designing our gardens was a simple one. This regenerative approach mimics the natural mulching processes that occur to create a healthy forest floor and offers myriad benefits to humans, soil, and the wider environment. Not only does this methodology increase crop production and quality, but it also keeps the soil structure intact and ensures the complex ecosystem found within can thrive.

We’re also proud that the garden has been created in full accordance with the Soil Association’s organic certification process and we are in the process of having the other areas certified too.

Great for the earth – and our grounds

As no-dig gardening maintains and promotes the mutually beneficial symbiotic relationship between soil and plant life, the need for artificial fertilisers or pesticides is eliminated. During the process of photosynthesis, plants use light energy to convert carbon dioxide and water into glucose and oxygen. In doing so, they embed both glucose and CO2 into the soil. These deposits support the organisms present within a balanced soil structure, and in return, they aid in processes such as nutrient mineralisation, which allow the plant’s roots to uptake the vital minerals they need to produce an abundant organic crop. This maintains a healthy plant-insect balance, and as our soil is undisturbed, CO2 and other gases are not released into the atmosphere.

Great for the ground – and our gut

Soil and the human gut contain approximately the same number of active microorganisms. There is a growing body of evidence that these organisms play a significant role in the functioning of the human body. And the nutritionally dense produce that is grown by the no-dig method helps to support these beneficial organisms and bacteria. Healthy soil – healthy gut.

A closed-loop system

Our gardens are set to be as close to a closed loop self-sustaining system as possible:

The organic seedlings start life in the protected warmth of the adjacent poly tunnels, sitting atop our manure hotbed propagators that will eventually break down into active, rich compost.

Our heat loving plants – peppers, chilli, tomatoes, cucumbers, aubergines, melons, and kiwis – flourish in the warmth of this environment, while others are moved out to the no-dig beds.

The beds are bolstered by wood chips and mulch from our very own estate. It is watered by a unique polytunnel water collection system and land drain, which collects rainwater and stores it within our IBC storage tanks situated at the top of the plot, gravity feeding the whole garden.

Any organic matter that remains post-harvest or that is collected from around our grounds is retained and processed through our composting bay system to create even more rich organic compost to mulch the growing beds with.

By using organic un-hybridised and heirloom seeds we can save seed from our own mature crops and preserve rarer varieties. These seeds are then sown next year and the whole cycle commences once again. 

We are also planning to install a small solar array to provide the polytunnels with the little electricity they require.

From ground to fork

What we’re most excited about is that the fresh, organic produce grown in our gardens is then supplied directly to our kitchens, including squash, courgette, mangetout, kohlrabi, Aztec broccoli, salad leaves, herbs, asparagus… the list goes on. And it all ends up being creatively incorporated into each delicious meal served to you in our Restaurant. From ground to fork in a matter of minutes.

Raithwaite’s Forest Garden

We’ve partnered with Sapling Spirits to create the UK’s very first hotel Forest Garden.

A Meeting of Minds

Sapling, which supplies our house vodka, plants a tree for each bottle sold, and only sources wheat from regenerative farms in the UK. Their passion for sustainability makes them the perfect partner for this permaculture project. Over 500 trees and shrubs have been planted on a disused meadow opposite our lake to create a biodiverse, edible landscape for the hotel’s chefs and mixologists to pick from. And another 500 are being planted this year.

Mimicking Nature

The Forest Garden mimics a natural forest, using an agronomic system to layer tall trees that form the canopy and sub-canopy, followed by bushes and shrubs, with herbs on the ground level. This tiered system together forms a self-sustaining, stable ecosystem. Using a combination of hardy plants requires minimal human interference, and yields a variety of produce through the seasons.

A blueprint for future projects

As the first of its kind in the UK, we’re hoping to use this as a blueprint to work on other permaculture projects with our suppliers all over the country. Our tree planting will hopefully encourage sustainable, hyper-localised food production with our partners.

From forest to fork

Our innovative Forest Garden is not only a beautiful, sustainable new addition to the hotel’s grounds. It will also provide our kitchen and bar with delicious, fresh, perennial fruits, herbs and spices to be used in our menus and cocktails.