Pensons on the Netherwood Estate is a restaurant that has done its best to dish up sustainable meals since opening in 2019. “We have been on a steep learning curve,” the Pensons website states. “We have found that applying sustainable principles in a restaurant environment takes considerable investment of time and ingenuity to find more ecologically sound solutions and a lot of tenacity to put these into practice.”
Despite the challenges, Pensons earned a solid sign of success — a Michelin Green Star, given to sustainable restaurants. The path that Pensons took to get here is complex but admirable. This is how Pensons sets the standard for other restaurants wanting to go green.
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How Pensons earned a Michelin Green Star
Pensons grows, forages and farms much of the produce it uses right on the estate grounds. The estate’s kitchen garden was revamped into a productive space adjacent to the restaurant to produce herbs, fruit, vegetables, and honey. The Netherwood Estate also produces cold-pressed rapeseed oil, which Pensons uses in place of olive oil. Further, the estate allows for foraging of elderflowers, meadowsweet, walnuts, wild garlic, sloes, nettles and hawthorn.
Pensons partners with local producers such as Little Pomana cider makers, who use their award-winning skills to create a single Estate, Sauterne barrelled cider with Netherwood’s White Norman apples. Local farmers and growers are also tapped for produce and ethically raised meat and seafood.
The local focus extends to local artisans who created furnishings for the restaurant. Chair coverings and napkins are woven on the estate, and many of the restaurant’s plates and bowls are commissioned from local potters. Local willow makes up the lampshades, and a local blacksmith forged the steak knives with walnut handles foraged from the estate’s fallen timber.
Additionally, Pensons uses no-dig gardening methods to preserve soil health and integrity. The restaurant adds farmyard manure to keep down weeds, improve the soil and retain beneficial microbes.
“Soil health is one of the essential building blocks to ensure a thriving, productive veg garden,” Pensons explains on its website. “To help achieve this, the uncooked fruit and vegetables waste from the kitchen and our holiday lets is composted and then used to improve the fertility, pH balance and soil structure of the growing beds. We also shred the cardboard waste from the restaurant (that is a lot of wine boxes!) and add this to the compost heap as a valuable source of carbon and aid aeration, allowing the compost to decompose more quickly.”
Further sustainability measures include rainwater collection to help water the garden. The restaurant also works to reduce single-use plastic. Dry store items are kept in refillable containers, and herbs go in glass jars. Even the labeling tape is plastic-free. Metal straws round out the collection of reusable kitchen supplies.
Lessons in sustainability
So, how can restaurants work to reduce waste received from suppliers? Many problems faced by businesses start where the control of their production materials ends. Pensons says it works with suppliers to maximize the number of deliveries that arrive in reusable, recyclable or returnable packaging.
Additionally, the restaurant plants hundreds of trees and hedging plants every year to help offset the carbon from visitors who have to drive to the rural location. These hedges also create wildlife corridors that link habitats around the farm. “We might not be changing the world overnight, but it is about taking small steps forward for the greater good,” the owners said.
Photovoltaic panels on the grain store roofs power the farmyard. A wood-fueled boiler generates heating and hot water in the holiday rentals. Meanwhile, renewables help fuel the restaurant’s electricity. A lot of thought went into combining resources to green the estate on all sides.
The detailed thought behind Pensons and its sustainability practices make it an excellent eco-friendly restaurant. If you’d like to learn more about what makes a Green Michelin Star restaurant, you can visit Pensons in the U.K. or check out the website here.
Via Hereford Times
Images via Pensons