Wednesday, 15 December 2010

A short resumen of 2010 and the hotel

During the first few months of 2010 we had lots of snow, making the Asturian scenery even more beautiful than normal. It also gave me the chance to do some snow walking and learn new techniques on various winter walking courses I attended.

Snow walking in the winter

But I didn’t only spend my time snow walking, I revised most of the self guided walking notes we offer to guests at the hotel as well as develop some new walks which can be done with out a car from the hotel. The culmination of this “work” was the production of the second edition of our Self Guided Walking “book,” a book which certainly gets used a lot by our guests.

We had another good season at the hotel slightly better than 2009 which considering all the economical difficulties is something to be pleased of. It is lovely to see so many “repeat” guests and very rewarding to see so many people interested in what we are doing. More and more people walk round the farm and particularly the vegetable garden.

Part of the hotel farm waiting for guests to visit

We were also extremely lucky this year with publicity, having had more press reports than ever. We started with an excellent article in The Guardian in April by Stephan Venable entitled Lone Ranger in Asturias. In May we were rated as one of the 100 Best Bolt Holes in Europe by the Sunday Times, in August we were featured on Notes from Spain as an Inspiring Asturian Dream and in September we were featured in the Waitrose magazine in an article entitled Hidden Spain. We were also featured in the Spanish press which focused on our food, with an article in the magazine “Integral” on our organic restaurant and the organic vegetarian cooking courses we offer were featured in “El Pais” two weeks ago.

Joe and participants on one of the cookery courses

So much of our success is due to our staff, the family and our collaborators. Special mention should be made to Maria Carmen who has now been working with us for over 12 years. Samantha and her boy friend Andres were working in the kitchen this year under Joe’s supervision and even though I say it my self, the food we serve is going from strength to strength. In the latest edition of the Alistair Sawday book it states we “use their produce in their menus (brilliantly.)” It probably sounds as though we are blowing our own trumpet, but I am just so proud and thankful to everyone here for what they have all managed to achieve over the years.

Mari Carmen preparing the breakfast buffet.

Special thanks should also go to our son Sebastian, who amongst other things arranged an extremely successful event this October “the Earths Pilgrim Retreat” with Satish Kumar and which was thoroughly enjoyed by all the participants. Encouraged by the response from this event he will be organising four more courses at the hotel for 2011.

A day on the Earth Pilgrims Retreat with Sebastian and Satish Kumar

The farm carries on being a central part of our project. We are now producing over one third of what we consume in the hotel restaurant and Joes imagination always helps in creating endless culinary delights when there are “gluts” of seasonal produce, (raspberries and aubergines come to mind this season.)

Home grown produce converted to culinary delights

Hugh who had been with us for 3 years working on the farm left in July to go and manage a community farm in Cornwall, and Wes took over his position. Amongst other jobs Wes built an amazing greenhouse, something I had wanted for many years. I am sure with the help of the greenhouse for plant production we will be able to develop our vegetable production even further.

The new greenhouse Wes built

For along time I have felt we have been doing a lot of environmental initiatives at the hotel and for the guests, but not so much for the local community. So it’s given me great satisfaction this year to be involved in the development of a local consumer group and the beginning of a community supported agriculture project.

Preparing vegetable boxes for the consumer group

It’s also good to see that after many years it looks as though we have a local person (Jenny) who is starting to get interested in using our wool to make artisan products.

Jenny showing samples of carded wool from our flock of xalda sheep

Our weather seems to have been as variable as ever this year. We had the worse floods in history in Arriondas this June, followed by a dry summer. We had snow as low as 200m a week ago followed by warm weather which has made all the snow disappear again.

The vegetable garden under snow last January

Having started and finished talking about the weather I think that’s a good time to wish every one a

Merry Christmas and Happy and Healthy New Year.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Courses and events for 2011

We were very encourage by the feedback from the event “The Earths Pilgrim Retreat” held at the hotel in October and so have decided to offer more courses in April and October for 2011. Three of these courses are being organised by our son Sebastian and his company Gaia y Sofia, a social company engaged in organizing transformative events, pursuing holistic research and offering socio-ecological consultancy. The three courses are:

Mindful Earth

Exploring our inner and outer Nature

Yvan Rytz, Rupert Hutchinson & Sebastian Burch

28th of March - 3rd of April Language: English

During this course, participants will find themselves immersed in a journey of awareness, that conveys the underlying dialogue we all have with Nature. Further Information

The Way of Food

Walking, Agriculture and Cooking

Hotel Posada del Valle's Working Community
17th - 23rd of October Langauge: English

In this course participants will live as part of Posada del Valle's community. Getting involved in the processes and activities that give life to the Organic farm and the kitchen. Learning how to grow and cook our own organic vegetables. Discussing about the role of Organic farming in todays socio-ecological world crisis, as well as how to be part of the solutions from our own home communities. Further Information

Enlightened Agriculture

How and Why Feeding People is Easy

Colin Tudge ( & Hotel Posada del Valle's Working Community
24th - 29th of October Langauge: English

During this course, participants will enjoy the company and experience of Biologist and writer Colin Tudge, as well as Hotel Posada del Valle's Working Community. In a unique and enriching environment we will explore the innovative ideas with which Colin Tudge has started the "Campaign for Real Farming" (, and how each one of us can be part of it. Further Information.

We will also be organising the following events at the hotel for 2011

Cookery Workshops

Organic & Vegetarian Food

Samantha y Joann Burch

9th & 10th of April Language: Bilingual (English/Spanish)

This will be an informal hands-on course taught by Joann and Samantha Burch and with a maximum of 6 participants. For two days participants will enjoy and learn about the organic and vegetarian food that we serve at Hotel Posada del Valle. There will be about 3 to 4 hours cookery classes each day with lots of opportunity to cook and eat. Further Information

Farm Open Days

Nigel Burch

14th May & 17th of September

Language: Bilingual (English/Spanish)

Finally, as in previous years, for 2011 we will be having two farm open days in May and September. On these open days we will show and discuss with the local community (and hotel guests if interested) what we are doing on the farm. The main emphasis will be on small scale vegetable production, but there will be the possibility to look at the orchard, meadows, chickens and sheep. Further Information

Further information on all these courses and events can be found on our web page


Hotel Posada del Valle is a small hotel in Asturias Northern Spain surrounded by its own organic farm and where we are passionate about organic farming, food, and sustainable livelihoods. In this Blog those of us who live and work at Hotel Posada del Valle open a door to share with all of you who are interested in what we are doing.