The Sign Maker is proud to be a business with a sustainable ethos, without losing our flair for providing high-quality bespoke signs and memorials. From production to product, in addition to caring for our countryside, we lead with an environmental consciousness and general heart for the local wildlife.
This year (2023), we were proud to walk away as the North Devon Business Of The Year (as awarded by Business Action). Previously, we were awarded the 'SME Sustainable Business Excellence Award 2022' by SME News in the Southern Enterprise Awards and celebrated by the North Devon Manufacturing Association with the 'Environmental Project Of The Year Award 2019'.
Our dedication to sustainability is evident in our directors' genuine love for the wildlife, passion for sustainable practice and enthusiasm for researching new methods and materials that further our sustainable range of signage. Our partnerships with The North Devon Biosphere and The Assosiation of Green Funeral Directors enable us to be part of the wider community working toward a more sustainable future, a community we are continuing to build and involve ourselves in.
We are very lucky at The Sign Maker to be situated in the heart of the North Devon Countryside, surrounded by our own land and other farms. Living in the countryside, we believe that we have a responsibility to look after it.
Our aim is to make Yelland Farm a wildlife haven! We are rewarded with hares and deer in the fields and lots of wild birds around the offices and workshops. Best of all for us, are the bees (hence our logo)! It is wonderful to see them buzzing around as, without bees, the countryside would be a very different place so it is important that we make every effort to look after them.
Feeding the Birds
At the bottom of one of the fields Shaun has created three wildlife ponds with his JCB. We were lucky to have a belt of clay to line the ponds with. The ponds are still new and will take a while to mature. We have planted lots of marginal and oxygenating plants so hopefully this wont take too long.
The ponds are next to an ancient wood and so will be a oasis for wildlife - the first newt has already arrived.
We love our bees! It is wonderful to see them collecting the pollen and nectar from all the flowers, flowering shrubs and trees. The lavender hedge is a favourite with bumble bees while the cotoneaster bushes hum with honey bees.
In recent years, we have set up a number of bee hives! We take some honey out, but for the most part we leave the honey for the bees. Bees travel up to 2.5miles to forage so we are sure they will find plenty of pollen and nectar at Yelland Farm and around the surrounding farmland and woodland.
In addition to looking after our bit of rural England, we must also think of our planet. From the plants we grow to the energy we use, The Sign Maker is constantly looking for ways to offset carbon, restore wildlife habitats and create a sustainable infrastructure.
As a manufacturing business, we are aware that we need to consider the sustainability of our products and production processes. As a result, we recycle everything that we can day to day, we buy FSC certified timber from sustainable sources, we use eco-friendly inks and, perhaps most importantly, we use our own green energy for the site here. Both our offices and workshops benefits from green energy provided by a wind turbine and biomass boiler (both of which also invest green energy back in to the grid).
When we moved from Little Knowe Farm to Yelland Farm there was lots of work to do - converting old stone buildings into offices and modern farm buildings into workshops. We decided though, it was important to produce as much of our own electricity as we could. Therefore just six months after moving in our wind turbine was up and running. Three years later we also invested in a wood burning biomass boiler to heat all the buildings. This uses locally sourced timber along with our own waste timber. We are also planting biomass willow & popular which should ready to cut in five years. In 2023, we also introduced solar to the roof of our workshop - a highly anticipated and welcome addition to our existing green energy structure.
As well as planting over 1500 willow and poplar for the biomass, we have planted over two hundred other trees. They may not look much yet but they will look amazing in the future. When planting trees you are always looking to the future. Time flies though and it surprising how quickly they begin to establish. The willow will provide an early nectar crop for honey bees and other insects.
We have also planted a number of Devon hedges with mixed planting of shrubs recommended by the RSBP. These should provide food shelter and nesting sites for the birds.
Wild Flower Meadows
We have set aside about five acres of land for wild flower meadows. The fields were already very old pastures so had a good diversity of grasses and flowers.
We have added lots more wild flower plugs and will continue to do so each year for several years. We have also sown lots of Yellow Rattle which helps keep the grasses down and allows the wild flowers to flourish. The grass is cut every August and turned into lovely hay!
Partnership With The North Devon Biosphere
In 2022, we became a business partner of The North Devon Biosphere, a UNESCO organisation striving to connect individuals with nature. We wanted to connect with others who are passionate about the environment, and share the knowledge that we have aquired with our online community too. The partnership involved making several 'pledges for nature'.
We committed to planting up a new wildflower meadow, and launched our 'Queen Bee Project' to honour The Queen's Platinum Jubilee by gifting six bespoke bug boxes to The Outdoors Group for their forest school sites. Partnering with The North Devon Biosphere has enabled us to put our passion into action alongside other individuals and communities.
We are committed to restoring and protecting wildlife habitats, alongside providing resources for the next generation! For updates on our sustainable practice, head over to our social media pages or our blog.