Hi! We're Dave & Emms and this time last year we launched a crowdfunder to help bring a dream to reality. Your support gave us the confidence to jump into a new life and we've spent the last year creating a renewables-powered countryside escape in Lincolnshire offering unique glamping, camping, alpacas and fireside events that harness the magic of nature.
We've voluntarily run communities for years and our dream has always been to pair a love for bringing like-minded people together with a little business that makes the outdoors accessible to all.
Our main aim with the Big Sky Hideaway was to create an escape where people feel comfortable pausing in nature for a while, making memories and find new friends around the campfire, at the same time as offering adventurous and sustainable ideas, messages and inspiration which guests can take home with them.
Since we arrived at Big Sky in December 2019 it has been a year of learning! Thanks to a healthy dose of YouTube and creativity we've learned how to hold tools properly and have created a site using recycled, up-cycled and sustainable materials, building compost loo blocks, rainwater harvesting systems and starting the conversion of our barn (which used to be an aeroplane hanger!) into a cool community basecamp and events venue.
We've planted over 400 trees so far with the help of many of you who supported our campaign last year, and there's space for a few hundred more to find homes in the ground over the next six months.
Although a planning permission application to become a campsite experienced lengthy delays and held us back from a full first year open to guests. we've gladly had a few weeks to test out the site, enjoy the smiling faces of friendly visitors and at least start to work out how we can best share our amazing corner of the planet with you.
Oh, and we've also become mama and papa to a small herd of fluffy alpacas and a roaming tribe of friendly hens, and in addition we're proud guardians of a site that offers homes and habitats to hooting owls, hovering birds of prey, digging rabbits, scurrying mice, trotting fox and curious deer.
In reality, so much has happened this year that it would take a book to share it all (watch this space!), but we're happy with the knowledge that although this first year has been one of so many little actions that nobody will ever notice, they have laid an amazing foundation for the future. Oh, and we're also delighted that when people drive in along our track they won't get stuck in the mud like our buses did upon arrival in December (gosh we've moved a lot of stone by wheelbarrow!).
So here we are again, we've decided to run another crowdfunder for a couple of reasons:
Firstly, we wanted to offer discounted stays to those of you who supported us in our first year. Honestly, we're still figuring out the best way to juggle all the ideas we have for the site alongside the responsibilities and cost of running a place like this, but we do know that people are at the heart of this and we want to get to share our journey with guests who want to return because they enjoy and believe in what we're doing.
Secondly, we're excited to have been selected for support by the M&S Energy Community Fund Competition 2021, who wanted to support projects committed to being environmentally conscious, who were installing renewable technology and actively taking part in carbon saving initiatives such as tree planting.
This means that if we reach our target we'll receive match funding for the first £5000, which we pledge to use on two main projects:
1) Purchasing new batteries to replace the old ones in our buses. These batteries store the sun's power generated by solar panels next to (or on top of) each bus, and the more efficient they are the more energy can be re-used. This is great for guests, but also when the buses are empty we use their solar power to charge up other items that we use all over the site; lights, tool batteries, projectors for events and more.
2) Protecting our new trees. With 400+ already planted this year and plenty more to go in the ground before the end of Spring 2022, the main job now is ensuring the young trees reach maturity.Young saplings are vulnerable for the first two or three years of their life and while they're small they're a delicious snack for deer and rabbits, and are also prone to damage in high winds. Depending on where the new trees are planted we want to protect them with a combination of fencing, stakes and tubes, which we know will give them a better chance of surviving to maturity.
We're out on our land every single day and honestly, hadn't quite factored in the time it would take to look after everything we've already created on site. We know that the match funding offered by the M&S grant will help to protect our trees and store more solar energy, ensuring that we have a little more time to focus on the other good stuff around site.
At the heart of our project is that spending time in nature, having the courage to try new things and reminding ourselves that if we all take little steps to lessen the impact on our planet then good changes are possible.
We know from this year's feedback that guests absolutely love visiting Big Sky. Campers have enjoyed the privacy of spaced-out mown pitches surrounded by long grass. Visitors to our buses and Landpods have revelled in the comfort and privacy of such a unique temporary home. And for everyone who visits, a wander in the woodland, reading the thoughtfully-placed signs, showering with a heated bag and feeding time with the alpacas have all left their mark.
And we're planning new experiences for 2022, including furnished Scandinavian tipis AND...we're excited about this one...a hammock village where you can learn about hammocking and spend a few nights floating between the trees.
Every 'reward' bought through this crowdfunder campaign will receive a digital certificate containing the details of your donation and the reward so that you can print it at home or send it to a loved one as a gift.
We're offering a few options for discounted stays at Big Sky.
Our American School Bus can sleep six (super king + four single pods), boasts a lovely kitchen and breakfast bar, super comfy seating and will live in its own little private garden at Big Sky.
The YesBus double decker is SayYesMore's community basecamp. In between community weekends the bus will be available for sleeps with proceeds helping to support the ongoing running of the YesTribe community, who organise free events nationwide to bring people together in the great outdoors.
We have two Landpods, the 2-bed Woodland Lodge hidden away surrounded by fir trees, and the Cosy Cocoon with its parachute lounge in a woodland garden.
(Now and then, the Cosy Cocoon will also move around site for brief, unique stays. One will even be in the Alpaca paddock, so you can enjoy your very own Alpackage Holiday!)
In 2022 we'll be furnishing at least one glorious Scandinavian tipi on site, allowing a comfy canvas break where you won't have to put up your own tent!
And as we mentioned above, a section of our woodland will be dedicated to hanging between trees. A colourful hammock village will be available for guests to try out for a relaxing chat or reading hour, and we'll be running workshops and offering hammocks for overnight stays. If you haven't tried it, you must!
Our little herd of Alpacas are an awesome bonus. Enjoy the cria's evening zoomies and the curious calming influence of their gentle grazing. We challenge you to not smile when you see them!
Big Sky has been a long time coming for us and we're still excited to have the opportunity to continue creating this incredible space.
We care about the environment and believe strongly in taking care of our own little corner of the planet, with minimal impact from our buildings and guests. We operate a 'Leave No Trace' policy and are actively planning ways to protect and promote conservation of wildlife and the local environment - think owl boxes, local litter picks and hosting youth groups to share with them our planet-friendly choices.
Thank you so much for your support in helping our unique dream grow some wings, we can't wait to keep you posted on developments and whether you've managed to visit us this year or not, we hope to be able to welcome you to Big Sky in person in 2022.
Ooh, and ps. Full terms and conditions and FAQs can be found on www.bigskyhideaway.com
And pps. we always try to be flexible so if you ever want to add nights to your crowdfunding reward, pitch a tent next to a bus or Landpod to be close to your friends, or anything else (within reason!) send us an email through our website, anytime.
Thanks so much for your support, with the biggest hugs
Dave & Emms