This July we’re turning the Sustainability Spotlight on The PIG at Combe, who recently hosted our B Corp & Beyond event and were part of our expert panel. We had the pleasure then of finding out about more about The PIG and now you do too. Read on…
At heart, THE PIG-at Combe is a buzzing restaurant with rooms where everything starts with the Kitchen Garden. Tucked away in the folds of the Otter Valley in Devon, this stunning Elizabethan gem is just outside Exeter and a 10-minute drive to Devon’s beautiful south coast beaches.
A friendly and relaxed country house, THE PIG-at Combe has a huge bar, cosy lounges all with open fires, sink-into sofas, eclectic interiors and serves unfussy and hyper-local food in the restaurant and rustic drop-in Folly in the grounds.
Gardeners and Chefs work hand-in-hand to create menus brim-full of the freshest seasonal flavours. What they can’t grow themselves, they source from our local heroes, the best farmers, fishermen and foragers we know, the foundation of our 25-mile menu. They’re obsessive recyclers and restorers: from vintage fabrics and china, to DIY on-site smokeries and upcycled chicken sheds, they love anything home-made and ultra-local.
Rooted in one of the most stunning parts of the English countryside, the place that they’re lucky enough to call home is pretty special – endless things to do and see, a tight-knit community and loads of talent all around!
We caught up with Group Sustainability Manager, Kate Harvey, for this month’s Sustainability Spotlight…
1. What have you done to make your business more environmentally friendly?
Here at THE PIG-at Combe our team are dedicated to the million details, from plants to people, homegrown in every way. At the centre of our operation is a pure commitment to protecting and giving back to the local environment and community – this is achieved by ensuring no stone goes unturned when making conscientious business decisions. Having a holistic approach to Sustainability is central to the way we work.
Our purpose is to be the future of caring and considered hospitality. Our sustainability aims are to source responsibly, support society and to protect the environment. We are proud to be leading the industry in doing hospitality the right way – by adopting the below we aim to safeguard the future of sustainable travel.
Proud to be local – We work with local suppliers to showcase their brilliant produce in both our restaurant and bar. Sourcing within 25 miles allows us the flexibility to visit producers regularly and build strong relationships – creating a positive impact in Devon socially, economically, and environmentally.
Growing our own – We grow, rear, smoke, sow, pickle, cultivate, cure and infuse our own; reducing food miles, really taking a DIY approach. Our Kitchen Garden is organically managed, and we are always mindful to promote biodiversity and create habitat for beneficial insects, which will not only boost the ecosystem of the garden, but they will also predate on some of the pests that are not so welcome.
PIG People – THE PIGs are fundamentally about people, our PIG Pathways program supports employees in exploring and pursuing entrepreneurial endeavours within the company. Additionally, through our Award-Winning apprenticeship scheme, we provide resources and training for employees to develop their skills and take on new challenges.
Looking after our community – We understand the importance of playing our part in contributing to our local, global and industry community.
LOCAL: Just like our 25 mile menu, we also focus our charitable efforts within the same radius of THE PIG-at Combe.We achieve this by donating space, food, industry skills, vouchers and monetary donations from ourselves and our diners. One of the local charities we support is Children’s Hospice South West – whose amazing work makes sure that children with life limiting conditions are cared for and that their families get the support they need.
GLOBAL: We also work to make an impact further afield with our two longstanding partnerships with Action Against Hunger and Belu. While local is central to the way we do business, we also recognise our international responsibility, to act as a force for good in our global community too.
INDUSTRY: We are long-term supporters of the charity Hospitality Action whose work helps those in the hospitality industry with a range of advice and mental health services. In June 2022 THE PIG-at Combe team ran, walked, and cycled for the ‘Back in Business’ initiative – helping THE PIG Group raise over £50,000!
Protect the environment
Waste management initiatives – At THE PIG-at Combe we do everything we can to reduce, reuse and recycle – in that order. To reduce food waste we pickle, preserve and cure as well as update menus daily, offer smaller plate options and compost wherever we can. We are keen to upcycle at THE PIG-at Combe you can find a whole host of vintage and antique furnishings that have either been reupholstered or repurposed, for example, old Dolly Tubs as bedside tables. Other reductions we have made include, removing single use toothbrushes and toothpastes from the rooms, eradicating plastic straws and condiment sachets, and limiting our paper usage.
Protecting our patch and supporting biodiversity – At THE PIG-at Combe we fully understand that biodiversity is the corner stone of a thriving ecosystem. Which is why we have around 5,700m2 of dedicated wild areas. Not just that, we have 18 bird houses, 7 bat houses, 1 hedgehog house, insect homes and freshwater ponds to boost the biodiversity of our little patch.
To take this biodiversity initiative even further afield we gift guests a seed packet to take home with them so they can start a ‘grow your own’ project themselves, in 2022 we gifted 10,140 seed packets. In addition to this we gift children ‘bee bomb’ seed packets to spread at home, so far in 2023 we have given out 50 of these.
Looking at our wider “patch”, earlier this year, to support our local biodiversity and help the Woodland Trust in their mission to expand native woodland, our apprentices joined in with some volunteering, planting native trees at the newly established Yonder Oak Wood, 15 miles down the road from Combe.
2. What would you like to change in the future to improve your sustainability credentials further?
Looking ahead, THE PIG-at Combe, will continue to look for ways to reduce our footprint, and give back to the inspiring Devonshire community that we are so honoured to be a part of. We are excited to announce that we are also currently in the process of applying for B-Corp certification.
This certification will reflect our commitment to meeting the highest standards of social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability. We have also recently started measuring our carbon footprint to assess and understand the environmental impact of our operations. This allows us to identify areas where we can reduce our carbon emissions and work towards becoming more environmentally sustainable.
3. What tips do you have for other businesses that would like to become more sustainable?
- Make sure you are taking a holistic approach. Sustainability is not just about the environment, there is the social side of things too, which is just as important.
- Take a look at the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. These guiding principles are 17 global goals to work towards to end poverty and protect the planet. They are a framework to help tackle humanity’s biggest challenges and cover topics that require collaboration from governments, non‑governmental organisations and businesses to address them. We support a variety of the goals, to drive sustainable growth for our business, as well as protecting our world for future generations.
- Innovate and see what specific things you can do to make positive change. Look to see where there are gaps in your sustainability approach and what is your area of expertise to make a change.
We recognise our responsibility to be a force for good – when our guests check out we want them to feel confident that their visit has left the local culture, economy, and environment in a better way.
We are aware there is more to be done and we are so excited to continue our sustainability journey, doing what’s right for people and planet.