Cotna Eco Retreat


Here at Cotna we live a low-impact, green and sustainable way of life in a stunningly beautiful place. Our speciality is growing organic salad leaves which we provide to local restaurants and farm shops across Cornwall. We produce green solar and wind energy and our water supply is from a natural spring supplying pure Cornish spring-water. We use our own wood, recycle through our compost bins and eco compost loos and produce delicious organic fruit & vegetables. We won the award for Best Contribution to Sustainable Land Management at the 2016 Cornwall Sustainability Awards for our ethos and activity at Cotna.

Through following permaculture principals of living in harmony with the land we hope you too can enjoy a taste of life at Cotna Eco Retreat while you are here. You are welcome to be as involved or as independent as you choose during your stay with us in our self-catering accommodation. You can choose to learn more about specific skills through booking onto one or more of our Learning Sessions such as wild food foraging & cooking, sourdough bread making or no-dig gardening.

We usually have a number of wonderful WWOOFers (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) who stay and help out on the farm. They are generally very knowledgeable about Cotna organic food production and happy to answer any questions you have.

The land at Cotna Eco Retreat is 100% accessible to your while you are here. Explore and take a wander through our orchard, horse field, nuttery and woodland. The outdoor vegetable gardens and polytunnels are hives of activity and there is always the opportunity to have a tour or get involved should you feel inspired! (Think of a stay with us as an eco, organic, farm holiday, which you are welcome to be part of.)

Enjoy your stay as you relax into our peaceful Cotna rhythm. Take advantage of Cotna’s south-facing position as you breathe in the light, the clear air, the breathtaking countryside view and come back to earth!

We look forward to meeting you soon.

Sara & Dave

Sara Readman-Smyth

Sara was a teacher, trainer and examiner of EFL / ESOL in London before she came to Cornwall. She has travelled extensively in both Europe & Asia, particularly in South India. She has always loved contact with other cultures through work and travel, and has integrated this into life at Cotna through her overseas links and interest in international cuisine.

She brings a reflective side to life at Cotna through yoga, meditation and encourages the use of the strawbale barn studio and yurts for solitary, reflective and spiritual retreats. She is a Homoeopath, has trained in Ayurveda and teaches students with Dyslexia at Falmouth University.

Although life as a smallholder has been new to her, she has embraced the sowing and organic growing of seeds. A self-confessed foodie, Sara delights in creating amazing sourdough bread and cooking up a storm in the kitchen.

Dave Readman

Having spent his life in the West Country, Dave trained as a Plant Biochemist at Bath University. He has mainly worked in the field of conservation and ecology and has an encyclopaedic knowledge of plants!

Dave has trained many young people over the years in countryside skills and woodland management, and more recently has been working with older volunteers on walking and cycling for health and fitness schemes. He also maintains our lovely Gorran Parish footpath network that takes you to the beaches & coast path, the local villages of Gorran Haven and Mevagissey and The Lost Gardens of Heligan.

A qualified Homoeopath, Dave is also an ardent plantsman, gardener and composter! He loves growing and eating food and being in the woods coppicing and harvesting fuel-wood. He says it’s all about moving healthily, eating well, keeping warm and dry and knowing how to get well when it goes wrong!


Animals and WWOOFers

Our working cocker spaniels, Kuti and Billy are our official welcome committee, rabbit management and resident shoe-thieves.

You may run into our cats – Ziggy prowling & Heidi dancing around the farm. Our chickens love your food scraps and during Easter we usually have new chicks. The ducks always enjoy a good waggle & giggle. Up in the field you’re welcome to visit our horses Bos, her son Carl and Elderflower the white Dartmoor pony.

You will also come across our wonderful WWOOFers (Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms) around the place – they are always friendly, helpful and knowledgeable about the gardens.

What We Do

Seasonal Vegetables

We are renowned for our organic salad leaves and this is Cotna’s speciality. We grow a variety of different lettuces, rocket, watercress, oriental leaves and spinach and produce beautiful seasonal salad bags, which contain a mix of leaves, herbs and flowers. We supply these to our guests and across Cornwall through farm shops, pubs and restaurants

We also grow a wide range of organic vegetables and fruit that really taste as real food should! These include sweetcorn, aubergine, courgette, squash, beans, peas, celery,tomatoes, cucumbers, apples, strawberries, blackcurrants, raspberries, redcurrants and quince. We supply these to our guests, friends and the local community when they are in season.

Hand-made Produce

We make a range of hand-made vegetarian produce. Depending on the season this includes; pesto (basil, watercress or rocket), chutneys, jams, marmalades, fruit vinegars, cordials, cider, salad dressings, granola, hummus and harissa.

Better Than Organic!

Most food in Britain is grown on minerally depleted land, which minimises the mineral and nutrient level available for the food. Most ‘fresh’ food in the UK has travelled hundreds of miles over a considerable amount of time to get to the consumer. The combination of these facts ensures that generally the food we eat is lacking in a number of essential minerals and other trace elements.

Our soil is mulched with compost and organic matter not only adds minerals and nutrients back into the soil but also enhances the flavours. We use the ‘no-dig’ approach, allowing the worms & other micro-organisms to work in harmony with each other & the soil, preserving the soil’s eco-system. Our vegetable beds are weeded by hand, minimising the use of petro-chemical machines on the land . And our food is carefully sown, grown and picked by hand and locally delivered. This is why food at Cotna Eco Retreat is even better than organic!

You can learn more about what we do just by being here & seeing what is going on, or you can book onto a ‘Cotna Session’, learning about organic no-dig gardening, wild food foraging or seasonal vegetarian cooking.

Brief History of Cotna

Cotna was historically known as Cruckconna, meaning break-your-neck hill!. The area of Cotna occupies an area of about 60 acres on the west side of the valley below Gorran Churchtown, on the south coast of Cornwall. The area is known to be an ancient site – in 1846 earthenware pots were found near Cotna Farm, which were identified as bronze-age funerary urns, and more recently when digging clay for our pizza oven we found a sharpened piece of flint that we think is pre-historic.

Cotna is a sheltered bowl of a valley that feels like it has been inhabited forever. A number of holdings have existed in the area over the years – Cruckcorner Wollas, Cruckcorner Wartha and Cotna Brake. Nowadays the local land is divided into Cotna Barton, Cotna House and Sentries, named after the ruined Sentries Mill in our woodland valley.