"What you will find on our breakfast menu is local, seasonal, and organic produce," says Rose Forbes, owner of the Green Mountain Bed and Breakfast. "Plus, eggs and dairy, along with minimally processed foods that do not contain refined flours and sugars, artificial sweeteners, flavors, colors, or preservatives."
In addition, with her experience as a certified nutrition consultant, author, chef, and holistic health practitioner for more than 14 years, Rose can evaluate your health and diet, and work with you to customize a nutrition program during your visit. We asked Rose to tell us more about how her journey into lifestyles of health and wellness led her to set up shop in the mountains of North Carolina.
Green America: What does your business do?
The Green Mountain Bed and Breakfast (it's not in Vermont!).
Rose Forbes: We are Asheville's first green bed and breakfast, in the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina. We also offer health retreats for juice fasting, cleansing, and stress management.
What makes your business green?
Rose: There are many ways our bed and breakfast is green, from the way our building is built, to our day-to-day practices.
For example, for energy conservation, we use whole-house fans and ceiling fans (and minimize the air conditioning), we use low-wattage compact fluorescent lighting and solar landscape lighting, and we use double-paned windows. We use both solar and wind power, all-natural and nontoxic cleaning products, no-VOC paints, and we print our literature only on recycled paper.
All of our conscious choices are meant to preserve and protect the environment, from our bulk dispensers of natural soaps and shampoos, to the home-grown herbs we serve with our breakfasts in the summertime.
What did you do before you started your green business?
Rose: I was an international sales manager for a bus manufacturer for 11 years. In that job, while I had management responsibilities and staff, I also had lots of corporate politics to deal with. I'm not a fan of doing what I'm told without question, so I was definitely born to be an entrepreneur! Then, after I became a mom in 1999, my family started looking for a business we could be involved in together that would be safe and healthy and give us freedom to travel. We decided that a bed-and-breakfast would be a great family business. We scoured the country looking for an eco-friendly place that was progressive, diverse, and natural-health-focused. We looked in Boulder, Denver, Austin, San Antonio, and finally settled on Asheville, NC. The name Green Mountain comes from our green philosophy and our location in the mountains — not to be confused with the Green Mountain region in Vermont.
What have been some of the biggest challenges of maintaining high standards of social and environmental responsibility?
Organic, local herbs top a Green Mountain breakfast fritatta.
Rose: Money is usually our biggest obstacle. Having a five-room B & B means that we need to maintain jobs outside the business to support its growth. We try to make our decisions based on being environmentally friendly, but we also have to weigh the cost. For example, our priority is serving organic, local, seasonal, and natural foods at breakfast. But, outfitting the rooms with organic cotton mattresses has not yet been a priority, due to high cost. I think we've done a great job with energy efficiency and creating a toxin-free environment.
What's been your proudest moment as a green business owner?
Rose: Whenever we get guests who are really into the environment, it's great to find kindred spirits. But it's even more fulfilling to come across guests who weren't attracted to our "green" features, but realize how easy it is to make simple changes in their own homes to become greener.
What is the most hopeful sign you've seen recently in the green economy?
Rose: Green is the new fad. There's even a whole TV channel just about being green. I think it will help the hospitality industry, which is typically a very wasteful industy, to jump on the green bandwagon. While I'm hopeful that we'll see more green features at major hotels as well as small boutique B & B's, I'm also wary of businesses touting their "greenness" when their efforts are really superficial or not consistent.
What advice would you give to green entrepreneurs just starting out?
Green is gold:
Luxury at Rose's B&B.
Rose: In the B & B business, there is fine line to walk with being green. It scares some potential guests into thinking they will be getting inferior accomodations or that we skimp on luxury or convenience. It's our job as green entrepreneurs to show clients that green doesn't mean compromising. You can still have luxury, beauty, convenience, and comfort if you do your research and look at the big picture. Not all clients care about green or are willing to spend more for it until we can prove it's worth it.
What's the next green step you're working on right now?
Rose: We just finished building a new home on our property as our personal residence. We used a lot of eco-features that we couldn't incorporate into the B & B, since that house was already built when we bought it. Our new home features bamboo floors, isonene insulation, a triple-zoned high-efficiency Daikin HVAC system, 25-percent recycled materials, a tankless water heater, Energy Star appliances, zero-VOC paints, and more. It's great to be living in such a green environment and we (meaning my husband Jack and me) did a lot of the work ourselves.
What green product could you not live without?
Rose: Vinegar and water for cleaning is awesome!