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June 2, 2018 6:23 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for UK specific accounts of people incorporating smallholding / homesteading into their lives in some meaningful way. Books (if there are any), blogs, Instagram accounts, etc.

Anything from "packed in our city lives and moved to a farm" to "this year we're trying to grow more vegetables." It doesn't matter to me if they are trying to run a business, keeping their day jobs, or just doing it as a hobby...as long as the homesteading/sustainability is the main focus of the account, and it's in the UK.

I am interested in topics like: gardening, livestock rearing, cooking, food preservation, building/woodworking, reducing environmental impact, general rural lifestyle stuff. I am particularly interested in families with young kids, but that's not a requirement. The blog An English Homestead is pretty much spot on what I like to read - I tried looking for some others like that, but it was hard to find engaging and frequently-updated accounts.

As long as the writing is good, I'm happy to read anything from the nitty-gritty of running a farm business, down to just recipes and anecdotes accompanied by pretty pictures.
posted by cpatterson to Home & Garden (7 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
I note you're in the US, so you possibly might not be familiar with the various River Cottage TV shows and books that became a bit ubiquitous in the UK at one point. They're a bit idealised etc, but they're still fun and informative.
posted by howfar at 6:33 AM on June 2, 2018 [2 favorites]


The "Year of the Cornflake" series by Faith Addis which is now mostly out of print tell the stories of her and her family's adventures when relocating from London to rural Devon in the 1970s and 1980s. There are 5 books in total, and her style is easy and good to read as well as being hilarious in part. They tackle setting up a holiday home for schoolkids (including "Mallads"), growing pansies for commercial seed, founding a smallholders association and becoming a dog groomer. Afternoon teas are another of her ventures and I crease up every time I read about waiting for the kettle/cattle to be ready....!

There was a TV adaptation of the books in the 90s which was rubbish and not at all true to her writing, so I'd avoid that if you find it. Any of the books you can get hold of are extremely well worth it, and can be read out of order without too much bafflement.
posted by car01 at 8:03 AM on June 2, 2018 [2 favorites]


The Garden Cottage Diaries is Fiona Houston's account of spending a year trying to live as if she was in the 1790s, on a smallholding the Scottish borders. It's less bonkers than it sounds - she's honest with herself and the reader about it being a flawed premise given that she still has to pop into Edinburgh from time to time, takes antibiotics when she's sick etc. But it's done in a spirit of curiosity and learning rather than puritanism. It covers a lot of the things you're looking for - it's a while since I read it but the back cover blurb promises:

* Authentic recipes and seasonal menus
* Gardening hints & nature notes
* How to make quills, string, ale & cheese
* How sustainability, thrift and sharing are intertwined in the quest for a better life

It's well-written, and has loads of lovely illustrations and photos.
posted by penguin pie at 8:26 AM on June 2, 2018 [2 favorites]


In a similar vein to the above, you might be interested in the multiple BBC Historical Farm series, where historians and re-enactors spend a year running a UK smallholding according to the practices of a particular era - Tudor, Stuart, Edwardian, and Second World War specifically. There are a couple of tie-in books, but I'd recommend the DVDs, which are splendid and rewatchable.
posted by Morfil Ffyrnig at 10:30 AM on June 2, 2018 [1 favorite]


Oo, check out Living Woods (it just went online when -- alas -- the print version couldn't support itself). Full of relevant ads for community gatherings, books on related subjects, articles about rural dwellers who may blog, etc.
posted by clew at 4:55 PM on June 2, 2018 [1 favorite]


These are all great suggestions! I already have seen a lot of the River Cottage and Historical Farm series, and I should definitely revisit those. I would love to know if there are more blogs out there where I can "follow along" with ordinary people who aren't experts or doing it for TV. I'll check out the links and books you've posted so far :)
posted by cpatterson at 12:36 PM on June 3, 2018


This list seems to have some good links to blogs. I only checked a few but they all had recent posts. I searched for "simple living smallholding". Simple living is more about frugality, but there's some overlap.
posted by Helga-woo at 12:42 AM on June 4, 2018 [1 favorite]


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