"Best weekend ever. Thank you so much for being so helpful, flexible and friendly. We absolutely loved it."
"Best course I have ever attended on anything" M-J T, Suffolk
You've been thinking about it for years and discussing it forever, but what you really want is a better understanding of what's involved so you can decide once and for all if smallholding and increasing self-sufficiency is genuinely the life for you. You know that successful smallholding requires new skills and knowledge and inevitably have huge numbers of questions about it all. What could really make a difference is coming on a training day or two that gives you a real flavour of the life and an understanding of what's involved day to day.
"I must say again how much we loved spending time with you. It was a great weekend which we cant stop telling our friends about." SM, Devon
So what we've done is create from scratch the kind of training we wish we'd had access to twenty years ago; practical, realistic, enjoyable, and thoroughly informative:
- Introduction to Smallholding: two day course
- Building & maintaining your own website for farmers, smallholders, breed societies & small businesses: one day course
- Living with Livestock - an introduction to sheep, pigs and cattle: one day course
- Intermediate Smallholding: two day course looking beyond the basics
- Apple & Orchard day: one day orchard course (including pressing & juicing of apples)
- Cattle for beginners: one day course
- Build your own cob oven: one day course, new for 2013
There's no doubt about it - coming on one of our courses can transform your life - at least that's what you tell us:
- "I can honestly say I am having a ball. It has given me a new lease of life." AM, Bristol
- "Debbie & Andrew, thank you for your honesty, enthusiasm and passion, for sharing your home, knowledge and skills so generously, and for giving me the most inspiring experience (possibly/probably life-changing)." RM Manchester
- "We were so enthused and inspired by our weekend with you both, that we have gone for an 11 acre smallholding!!" J+SH, Woking
- "We... have sold our place and are moving to a 8 acre smallholding... 5 miles from the beach." CH, Devon
- "Our weekend in Devon confirmed for us that we really want to pursue our smallholding/self-sufficiency dream." J&VH, London
- "As I drove home, I reflected that I have never been on a course before which has simultaneously satisfied the body, the mind and the soul - thank you." MJ, Dorset
Our courses are designed to be lively, interactive sessions, with lots of time spent outside experiencing it for real on the farm (rain or no rain), so that we combine theory with practice and send you away with a real sense of what you can do next. And because this is a working farm, there won't be courses during much of March and April - we're too busy lambing. We keep groups small - usually a maximum of eight people for the smallholder and livestock days, and just six for the DIY website day - so that you get our full attention. Sitting in the farmhouse kitchen munching our homegrown produce over lunch and tea is the ideal time for dealing with any questions that may not have been answered; recipes and preserving techniques are swapped, life's dreams discussed, and we find that groups frequently exchange contact details to keep in touch.
Your trainers: "It's the best course I've ever been on - and I've been on a lot of courses."
It's important that you know that we run the farm ourselves, with only the occasional bit of contract help (for winter hedgelaying, bumping in lines of fence posts and shearing), so we do everything else, every day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. As well as running the farm and the courses with Andrew, Debbie is also a professional trainer specialising in the arts sector and Andrew delivers software training. We take your desire for effective training very seriously, and our courses are carefully structured to make sure that you are able to absorb a great deal of information, that all your questions are answered, and that you have a completely enjoyable experience. We think of it as creating the feel of a house party where you can't quite believe how much you learned along the way (and how well you've eaten!). We’ve been doing this smallholding/farming-on-a-small-scale lark together for well over two decades and before that worked in our spare time on a farm for a number of years, so have gathered plenty of knowledge and experience. Our first smallholding was 3.5 acres so we know what it's like to work on a modest veg patch, a smallholding and now a farm. Our Cattle for Beginners course is co-delivered with farmer and writer Paula Wolton.
The livestock: We have a particular interest in native and rare breeds and run two pedigree flocks of Welsh Mountain Badger Face sheep, both the Torwen and Torddu, and pedigree Whiteface Dartmoors. Our pigs are the Yeoman herd of pedigree Berkshires, and we breed Pilgrim geese, Aylesbury ducks, Black Indian Runner ducks and Black Orpington large fowl chickens. We also have a pedigree suckler herd of Devon Ruby cattle. These stalwarts are supplemented, depending on the time of year and our foibles, by other livestock such as Norfolk Black turkeys and Boer goats. For more information about our livestock, have a look at our farm website.
Bespoke training: We deliver an increasing number of bespoke training days for small groups, couples and individuals who want our undivided attention or have particular topics they want to explore in detail. We are always happy to create a course for you, or to deliver a course on a specific date to suit you if that is feasible, so do contact us to discuss, and if we can help, we will.
Our course participants: People often ask us who comes on our courses and it's difficult to give a simple answer. People come from all over the UK, and have travelled to us specially from as far afield as France, Switzerland, Saudi Arabia and Singapore. The age range has been from teenagers to mid 70's, from urban to rural, from those with lots of land to those with a window box. We have people who love meat in all its forms and vegetarians who want to raise livestock as pets or for fleece and eggs and for meat for the non-veggie members of their families. We have young couples wanting to start their life together on as self-sufficient a basis as possible. We have friends who want to share the management of a plot of land and a menagerie of livestock. We have retirees who have no intention of taking things easy now that they have time to do as they please. We have individuals testing out if smallholding can be done on their own, and we have whole family groups about to embark on a new project in a new place. We've had co-workers from animal shelters and city farms wanting to brush up their livestock skills and throw in some valuable team building at the same time. The variety of people we meet is endless and wonderful.
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