The Sustainable Smallholders’ Handbook/Wiltshire Horn Sheep/Farming Connect
The Sustainable Smallholders’ Handbook
ALL SMALLHOLDERS and rural businesses should be running their operations sustainably and profitably, but where and how do you start? With a neverending list of jobs, bills and worries and, of course, making and selling produce, there is little time left over to plan for change. But Lorraine Turnbull in her new book The Sustainable Smallholders’ Handbook has plenty of advice for those already living the dream who need to know how to tweak and hone an operation in order to achieve success.
THE CASE STUDY
Lorraine and her husband John made a conscious choice to live the good life when they bought their run down agriculturally tied cottage in Cornwall with just 1.2 acres. They initially struggled to make ends meet running a small plant nursery and selling eggs before they diversified to maximise the profit and sustainability of such a small plot of land.
They developed their apple orchard and grew a successful small commercial cider business, with the waste being collected by local pig farmers. Lorraine’s part-time lambing work ensured an annual supply of lambs to graze down the paddocks and they were in turn butchered for meat in the autumn. A small apiary produced a good income and it pollinated the orchard. By working with the land and the seasons and concentrating on tried and tested commercially successful projects the Turnbulls lived comfortably, sustainably and reduced their workload. In 2014 Lorraine was awarded Best Individual at the Cornwall Sustainability Awards and this led to the writing of this book.
THE BOOK ITSELF
The Sustainable Smallholders’ Handbook is aimed at aspiring and existing smallholders and rural dwellers and it begins by examining suitable properties and the financial and practical implications of a smallholding life. A comprehensive section follows on developing the wide-reaching skills required, together with information on regulations and paperwork and where to get help with these.
The next chapters concentrate on the pillars of commercial smallholding, including varieties of livestock and their importance to the sustainable smallholding. Food and drink covers the general to the exotic and naturally orchards are specifically featured as offering a multitude of uses, both for biodiversity and profit. Despite what your mother said, money really can grow on trees.
Of course, passing on your hard-earned skills offers a fantastic opportunity to earn money. Lorraine and John both taught at agricultural college and now offer professional advice if you are looking at providing training or teaching as a service.
Great products won’t sell themselves, though, and you will need a marketing plan. Farmers markets are still viable, but internet sales are increasingly important and this section introduces websites, social media and branding with some canny advice and ideas to promote your business. Of course, diversification is crucial to rural businesses and Lorraine examines a variety of projects and ideas and encourages the smallholder to examine what will work in their particular situation with their unique skills. A number of case studies are featured in the book, highlighting a variety of real rural businesses and smallholdings.
To obtain your copy of The Sustainable Smallholders’ Handbook and receive a £3.50 discount, visit www. posthousepublishing.com and insert the code CSH19 in the box marked ‘redeem coupon’.
ABOVE: The author Lorraine Turnbull with one of her beehives