A COUPLE who were green pioneers, becoming interested in environmental issues in the 1970s, will be opening their doors to demonstrate the economical and environmental benefits of their home.

Mark Hardy and Valerie Nerva, who run a supportive housing unit for adults in Ringwood, will be opening their home at 46 Whitsbury Road in Fordingbridge from 11am until 5pm on Saturday and Sunday, October 20 and 21.

Their 1914 semi Rose Cottage has been fitted with high-spec insulation, photovoltaic and solar thermal panels, an air to air source heat pump and two wood burners.

A large part of the garden is devoted to growing food, with raised beds and polytunnel and recycled greenhouse. There is also a wood-fired, home-built sauna and a living roof on the garage.

Mr Hardy said: “I started reading a magazine called Practical Self Sufficiency in the 70s.

“It was all very The Good Life – I was getting up at half five to feed the goats and getting back from work at 8pm, which was hard.

“Now we only have chickens but we grow 80 per cent of what we eat, and what with the panels and the pump the grid owes us money rather than the other way round.”

The open homes are part of a wider event called Green Open Doors – the second such free event held in the Forest.

The chairman of the Fordingbridge Society Edgar Moss is also opening his home, 18 Willow Avenue.

The property is a bungalow built more than 30 years ago, which has been fitted with an air-source heat pump three years ago. Solar panels were added two years ago.

The gas supply was then completely cut off, and Mr Moss’s ambition is to produce enough power to be self-sufficient using the National Grid only as the buffer.

Mr Moss has installed further measures to save power, such as double glazing, energy-efficient lighting and insulation in the roof and walls.

His home will be open on the Saturday from 10am until noon and Sunday from 2pm until 5pm.

Andy Brennan, Sustainable Development Officer at the New Forest National Park Authority, said: “Green Open Doors is an opportunity for home owners to showcase the benefits of green technology.

“This year we have a range of properties which are successfully using solar panels, biomass boilers, eco-lighting, insulation and ground source heat pumps.

“Those who are interested can come along, speak to home owners, see how the technology works and get first hand feedback and advice.”

For more information on property locations and opening times go to newforestnpa.gov.uk/greenopendoors.