A pop-up venue with a communal atmosphere in Worcestershire.
We talk to Dan Lindeque about the 32 year old venue run exclusively by volunteers from a field every summer. Keeping spirits high whatever the weather with umbrellas, cosy breakout spaces and woodfired stoves, Green & Away has community and sustainability at the heart of its offering and welcomes weddings, creative courses and conferences to its unique, low impact spaces.
When did you start your venue business and what is its history?
Green & Away was started in 1990 as a small outdoor gathering of like-minded individuals over a summer weekend. The weekend was so well received as a unique space in the outdoors, that we have since expanded to run a fully serviced temporary tented venue which operates with charitable aims to educate about environmental and social issues.
We’ve been in our current location since 2008 and are an entirely volunteer run organisation which hosts outdoor events, conferences, workshops and celebrations in a low impact manner.
Tell us about your location and site
Nestled within a 200 acre farm bordering a river and woodland in rural Worcestershire, we set up our outdoor tented venue from scratch each summer with our team of volunteers.
Reminiscent of a village green and centred around a campfire, our fully serviced events venue includes numerous structures. We create a space that provides all the creature comforts one may need whilst having a low impact on the environment.
Adverse weather brings out the challenges of our venue. As everything we do happens under canvas or the open sky, ensuring our guests are warm, dry and happy is important. But good spirits, many umbrellas and woodfired stoves can overcome even the worst rain shower!
Green & Away is a space for all. Groups therefore do not have to be environmentally focused to visit us as we can take care of everything, from the biodegradable soaps to the sustainable food preparation.
What facilities for outdoor functions do you offer?
Our key structure where events take place is a large marquee that can seat up to 140 guests for conferences, music and dancing or ceremonies.
We have a licensed bar on site serving local beverages and a fully functional kitchen that caters three vegetarian meals a day, snacks and baked goods. Our tea tent serves various hot and cold drinks and our cosy sitting room yurt can be used as a breakout space or a place to congregate or warm up in the evenings.
Integrated into the ‘village circle’ of structures is a small tent for children to play in with various toys and a large area for games. Electric lighting, Wi-Fi and 12V solar powered charging facilities are provided throughout the main area.
We provide on-site accommodation in the form of a fully furnished yurt and bell tents, as well as a large field for guests to camp in with their own tents or campervans.
Further facilities include hot open air showers powered by wood-burners and composting toilets with hand washing facilities, which are scattered throughout the field.
What services do you offer?
We are able to support the planning of events in the lead up to the season and have a full volunteer crew on hand to support the running of events on site. From the arrival and welcoming of guests, serving drinks at the bar and catering, to settling guests in and helping with the smooth running of events, our team can support diverse events and their unique needs.
As part of our educational aims we also offer talks and workshops on various environmental, practical or social issues and take guests on tours of the site to learn about the various ways in which we make Green & Away a sustainable venue.
Describe how you researched and sourced your structures
All our main structures are temporary, which we set up in one location every summer over a period of two to three weeks. These mostly consist of bespoke or second-hand canvas marquees which we have purchased from small British or European suppliers over the years. A number of smaller structures are cobbled together using excess stock material and many of the facilities are made by ourselves on site (such as our wooden composting toilet cubicles and outdoor showers).
We take care to consider where the products come from, the impact they may have on our field (such as avoiding contributing to microplastics) and make purchases guided by our procurement policy, always keeping safety, longevity and sustainability in mind.
How do you work with your customers to make their event unique?
Due to the temporary and low impact nature of our venue, we are very flexible in the services we can provide guests and tailor things to each event. In the run up to events we are in close contact with the organisers to ensure that we can accommodate their needs.
Each year we decide how to arrange the site to best suit our summer programme and the extra structures we may include. Our site has been used by varied groups from lively wedding celebrations of 140 people to an intimate workshop of four on a painting course. By our very nature as a low impact environmental organisation, we aim to ensure that everyone leaves us feeling a sense of experiencing something new or familiar in a unique setting.
How do you publicise yourself?
The large majority of new enquiries for bookings come from our website, social media and search engine advertising. We also rely on word of mouth through our extensive network of volunteers and previous guests.
How would you describe your style or unique selling point?
Green & Away offers an open space for people from all walks of life to explore, experience and further their knowledge on low impact living and sustainability issues. Community is at the heart of our organisation, reflected in our village green, our volunteer community and engagement with our guests.
As our venue is so closely entwined with the surrounding landscape, Green & Away is a space to leave the city behind without having to sacrifice your creature comforts. We create an easy going and safe space for people to reflect, work or simply relax and enjoy themselves.
What challenges have you faced historically?
The very nature and ethos of our venue brings with it a certain level of resiliency as we can respond relatively reflexively to smaller challenges as they arise. Having tented and temporary structures gives us much flexibility, however this also brings short term unforeseen challenges such as the damage of canvas following heavy rain. One of our main challenges is navigating mud after long periods of rain, requiring us to find ever new ways to ensure accessible walkways.
How did Covid-19 impact you?
Covid-19 has led to the first (and hopefully last!) time that we have had to fully cancel a season in our 30 years of operation. The trustee board met numerous times to discuss the impact of Covid-19 and government restrictions however ultimately we were unable to run. We are fortunate enough to be a well-established organisation which operates on a not for profit basis and therefore could handle missing two seasons. This has brought its own challenges in terms of maintenance of equipment, keeping up a profile as well as volunteer engagement during an extended hiatus.
How large is your team – any special people you’d like to mention?
Green & Away is run by a team of around 10 trustees who oversee the in and out of season operations of the organisation as well as ensuring our charitable aims are met. During the summer season we have a changeable team of around 20-40 volunteers and interns living on site. We also have a coordinator to ensure the venue runs smoothly.
What are your plans for next season?
This summer we are pleased to be running a full season after a two year hiatus during Covid, with a number of exciting events lined up consisting of both familiar faces and new ones.
Describe your average day mid-season
Our days differ a bit depending on whether we have guests on site or not. When we have no guests, the volunteers gather each morning for a meeting where we check in and share out the jobs for the day, which revolve around maintaining the site and getting it ready for the next guests. Tea and cake are bountiful, and when the site is ship-shape – wood chopped, accommodation cleaned ready, food prepared, ongoing maintenance done etc. – volunteers have time to enjoy the field or engage with the educational program we provide.
During event days, the daily routine is tailored to the requirements of the event and our volunteers ensure the smooth running of the site, catering and bar or help with the program.
What are you most proud of?
Despite being a completely new team each season made up of old and new faces, we manage to host and run successful events each year. The whole Green & Away team is made up of hard working volunteers, who successfully come together to professionally and competently run the venue, and have a lot of fun while doing so!
What advice could you give to someone coming into the industry?
First-hand experience is golden – make sure valuable knowledge is written down in order to share with others and increase the resilience of your team. Always have a back-up plan or be ready to adapt.
Green & Away