The Sus­tain­able Small­hold­ers’ Hand­book/Wilt­shire Horn Sheep/Farm­ing Con­nect

The Sus­tain­able Small­hold­ers’ Hand­book

Country Smallholding - - Contents -

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.


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 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. post­house­pub­lish­ and in­sert the code CSH19 in the box marked ‘re­deem coupon’.

ABOVE: The au­thor Lor­raine Turn­bull with one of her bee­hives

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