Why become a smallholder
So, you may be asking yourself “why start a smallholding”. There are many benefits to smallholder life the obvious one that you’ll be living in the country. This book is mainly focused on helping those who want to live off the land, to some extent. It is what is commonly called “the good life” and, indeed, it can be.
One of the best reasons for living the “good life” is your health. There are many ways in which your health can benefit and some of these are outlined in this chapter. But, basically, the real improvements are in better food, better air quality and a more active lifestyle.
Why start a smallholding – Self Sufficiency
Moving to the country, in itself, doesn’t mean better food. Supermarkets are everywhere. Farm shops selling organic locally grown produce can be found in both town and country. So we all have access to quality food if we want it.
However, there is a great deal of satisfaction in eating something you have grown yourself. This is even more pronounced when you have grown the food from seed.
This does take work. Vegetable patches need to be prepared, maintained, weeded and mulched. Seeds not to be sown, nurtured, potted up and planted out.
Pests need to be controlled, be they butterflies, slugs, birds or even pet dogs and cats.
Why start a smallholding – Better food
By growing your own can you be sure to be getting chemical free, organic produce.
And then, there’s the taste. I remember picking strawberries and filling punnets as a child. I love strawberries. Yet now, I find the strawberries from the supermarket are often tasteless and bland. Even in season, sourced locally, I think they have lost much of their flavour, especially compared with what we grow on our smallholding.
Home grown vegetables and frui taste better. The get to grow and ripen naturally. You get to pick them when they are fresh. What more can I say?
Why start a smallholding – Healthier Lifestyle
In the countryside, there are less people and less vehicles. The air is naturally cleaner. Not only does this mean we are breathing cleaner air, but it is also good for your skin. Just think blowing your nose after a trip on the London underground. All that black, sooty matter also settles on your skin. So even just moving out to the country has health benefits.
In the country, your life will involve more time outdoors. Some of this will be work, whether it be tending crops and or your animals, or whether you are just taking time to enjoy your environment.
Why start a smallholding – Helping the Environment
Since the middle of the twentieth century, food production has moved away from traditional small-scale farms to large scale agribusiness. Traditional farming involved rotation of both crops and livestock. What the plants took from the soil, the animals put back.
Over the years, both the production of meat and vegetables has become big business. At the same time, supermarkets have been driving down prices. They have also been getting ever more selective about presentation. Much edible food is discarded simply because it is the wrong shape.
This has, in part, led to what we call factory farming. This applies both to animals and crops. Both approaches are harmful to our planet.
By producing your own, you are making a small but important contribution to helping the environment.
Why start a smallholding – Helping Wildlife
As a smallholder, you will own a bit of land. You’ll have scope to make areas wildlife friendly. Here, at Auchenstroan, we have plenty of frogs and toads. We have hedgehogs, deer, mice, voles, moles, foxes and even badgers. We often see buzzards and kites along with many species of bird, some of which visit our feeders.
You can set up wild areas, nesting areas, nest boxes – you name it. Since moving here, we have planted over 1,000 trees, set up swallow nestboxes and watched housemartins nest and bring up families on the walls of our house.
We have overwintered tiny hedgehogs helping them to survive the winter, ready for release in the spring.
The potential to help wildlife, as a smallholder, is huge. And rewarding.
This Smallholding Life
In our book “This Smallholding life”, Adrian draws from personal experience to take you through the highs and lows of life on a smallholding, and how small or quick decisions can have a major impact on your life. From the depths of losing a cherished animal to the highs of making your first sale, this book takes you on a fascinating journey. A real insight into smallholding life.
It describes many of the challenges you will face – physical, mental and financial. This book offers guidance on what is really involved and what you need to think about when moving into this life. It will inspire you to take the plunge, but with your eyes open.
In this book, Adrian will show you how a bit of planning can go a long way, how the key to this life is finding the right balance for you and how this smallholding life is a life worth living.