He was once a famous boyband rapper. Now Abz Love and his girlfriend Vicky Fallon live quietly on a smallholding in Wales. They talked to Kim Stoddart
There’s nothing new about musicians and pop stars moving out to a large pile in the countryside once they’ve made it. It’s actually incredibly common: Paul McCartney, Robert Plant, Alex James … they’ve all done it. Former 5ive rapper Abz Love and his girlfriend Vicky Fallon, however, have done something altogether different. In the recent BBC 2 series Abz on the Farm we saw the couple skint and maxing out their credit cards in order to follow their quest for self-sufficiency on a mortgaged £142,000 smallholding in deepset West Wales.
The couple have leapt bravely into the unknown in a desire to try and learn to live off a small plot of land. They’ve moved to the middle of nowhere to start a new life from scratch and, in the TV series, come across as very genuine in their intentions. I was intrigued, and so I went along to find out how they’ve been getting on since the cameras stopped filming.
It’s been almost a year since they made the move and, although they’ve had to contend with a lot of challenges, they remain 100% committed to making smallholding life work for them. Their enthusiasm for learning to work their nearly four-acre plot and all that entails is infectious and there’s clearly a lot more to them than you might first imagine.
For example, they didn’t sell their story to the highest bidder: they were offered more money to do the series on Sky Living but turned it down for the opportunity to work with the natural history department of the BBC instead. As Vicky explains: “We wanted to do more than the usual celebrity crap. We work in an industry that rewards the wrong kind of people and we wanted this to be educational. If we can make people laugh along the way that’s great because laughter is good for the soul.”
Abz quit his band late last year and since then has been focusing full time on what he sees as a move into something real. Something that he can depend upon, eventually. “It’s so empowering. I love exploring and being out of the craziness.”
He explains: “I’ve had it all; I’ve been around the world three times, ate at the finest restaurants, met the celebs…but this is what matters – learning how to work a little plot of land.”
I’ve interviewed a lot of smallholders now for this magazine and have seen time and time again how an initial desire to make, mend and ‘do’ absolutely everything tends to wane after the first few years. To be completely self-sufficient would take all of your time and energy and people either need to get a job or learn to create a living from the land. Either way, this generally involves focusing on particular areas and skills rather than trying to do absolutely everything for themselves.
Yet it doesn’t mean it’s a complete pipedream. Abz and Vicky have been guided during the series by residents at Lammas, an eco-village in Pembrokeshire, who live entirely off grid in homes they have made for themselves.
So how are they getting on?
Well, they are still buying most things in; except for the vegetables they have started to produce and eggs from their chickens. But then it’s by no means an overnight transformation. It takes time to learn how to do things for free and to see food in a different light. As Fallon says: “I look in my fridge and if it’s empty I think I must shop, even when I’ve got a polytunnel full of produce. I’m still learning how to make what we’re growing into something delicious and getting over that mental barrier of food coming from the supermarket.”
After having a lot of drainage work carried out on their land – which had flooded badly – the fields have finally recovered and grass is growing again. However, a few months back they came to the conclusion that their land is still unsuitable for heavier livestock grazing
I’ve had it all … but this is what matters – learning how to work a
and they sold their two horses. It was a hard and upsetting move but they were still feeding their horses hay in June so in the end it simply had to be done.
Instead, they have plans to try out smallscale goat or alpaca keeping and are about to buy some more chickens to add to their small brood. They also fancy getting some Khaki Campbell ducks which they’ve been told are good for helping to keep the slugs on the veg patch under control. Given the poor summer we’ve had in West Wales this year, I can vouch for the fact the slugs have been having a bit of a field day…
They have a lot of willow on their land so Vicky would like to learn how to make things with it such as baskets. Abz is already thinking about a duck pond island he’s going to make for the imminent quacking arrivals and, well, there are plenty more plans and ideas besides. * Kim Stoddart also moved to a smallholding in west Wales after giving up a high-flying job in the South East
Ex-rapper Abz Love and his girlfriend Vicky Fallon with their dogs on their smallholding in Wales
Some calm by the campfire: a long way from the glitz and glamour of the ‘celeb’ life