Smallholder courses

Sally and Adrian Morgan teach the smallholder courses.

Our smallholder courses looks at all aspects of running a holding, from the paperwork to the management of the fields and having healthy soil. In particular, we specialise in small spaces, showing you what can be achieved on a few acres or less. The knowledge we impart is based on 25 years of experience as smallholders; keeping pigs, sheep and poultry, and a life time of growing vegetables and fruit!

Geese, sheep, ducks, turkey, pigs and chickens

An introduction to smallholding

Course tutor: Sally Morgan

This popular full day course covers a wealth of topics. Its ideal for people thinking about making that step into buying or renting land or those who have a large garden and are wondering what they can do with it in order to become more self-sufficient

Sally covers topics such as the amount of land you need, the absolute essentials, the desirables and things to avoid. She will cover the issues associated with planning, and water and electricity supply, how to register your smallholding and give you details of some of the grants and subsidies that you may be able to claim. During the session other topics, such as land management, hedging, pasture, rotations, weed control, fencing and equipment are covered. There is a walk/talk around Empire Farm to view the various livestock pens, polytunnel and the new ‘mini-farm’ set up to show people how you can farm just two-thirds of an acre and be mostly self-sufficient in meat, eggs and veg.

The afternoon session is focused on livestock, covering poultry, sheep, goats, pigs, cattle, and bees – setting up, purchase of stock, how much land they need and the costs of keeping them. We will touch on the sale of produce too. [Note there is no time to go into the detail of keeping livestock on this course rather the pros and cons of the different animal types].

The numbers on these days are limited to 8 people so that everybody has a chance to ask questions. Price £90 and includes all tuition, course notes, lunch and refreshments during the day. We offer a £15 discount for the second and subsequent person booked the same time.

New dates coming soon for April 2019

You can buy tickets for this event on Eventbrite

kitchen garden raised beds late summer

Living on one acre or less

Course tutor: Sally Morgan

You don't need acres of land to have a smallholding, an acre or less is all you need to keep a couple of pigs, some poultry, have an orchard, grow loads of veg and keep some bees. Find out how you can achieve this on this full day course.

 

Our one acre plot shows just what can be done with a small area and has pig and poultry pens, large vegetable and herb growing area, polytunnel, small orchard, cordon fruit trees, fruit wall, edible hedgerow, perennial vegetables, a grow-your-own spices area, compost bins, aquaponics, bees and more.  Sally likes to grow unusual veg, so expect to see quinoa, oca, ulluco, yakon, skirret, salsify and butterbeans to name but a few.  You will also see our productive walled garden which has a small orchard, kitchen garden with dipping pond, cutting flowers, and herb garden.

;Learn how to plan your own mini farm to keep livestock such as chickens (both layers and meat), ducks, turkeys, pigs, even sheep and goats, and become self sufficient in vegetables. The practical planning session looks at how much you can fit into the space and highlights  the key points you have to consider  such as access, zoning, aspect etc. Important principles such as soil management, fertility, crop rotation, companion planting will be covered together with the basics of keeping livestock, fencing and water harvesting. You will also look at the paperwork you need to keep animals, such as holding and herd numbers, movement licenses, and cover issues such as keeping animals in urban areas.

This course is run several times during the year. The content is varied to tie in with the season. The spring dates give you a chance to look at the vegetable plots early in the season while the summer / autumn dates enable you to appreciate the vegetable gardens and polytunnel at peak productivity and see the pigs which will be ready to go.

The March date will focus on planning and rotations. The vegetable beds will be covered, the fruit cage will be planted up  and the hot bed will be in operation. The polytunnel will be full of newly sown modules and winter veg. The piglets and meat birds will not have arrived, but you will be able to see our Kune Kune pigs  and poultry kept elsewhere on the farm.  We look at topics such as composting, green manures, hugelkultur  beds, and weed control. The advantage of this date is that you will have time to go home and get started yourself.

By May the veg beds will be full of the first plantings, the polytunnel planted up with salads,  tomatoes and cucumbers, the hot bed full of early veg and the piglets will have arrived. We may have some ducklings or meat bird chicks too. Courses later in the year  give participants the chance to see the vegetable gardens and polytunnel in full production, the pigs will be at porker weight and ready for slaughter and there will be some ducks and possibly turkeys around.Part of the day will look at planning for winter crops and the next year.

The cost of this course is £90 for the first person with a discount ticket of £75 for the second and subsequent person booked at the same time. The numbers on these days are limited to 8 people so that everybody can see what is going on and ask questions. The price includes all tuition, course notes, lunch and refreshments during the day. The day starts at 10 am, with arrival from  9.45 am. There is a final Q and A session over afternoon tea and cake  and the course ends at about 5 pm.

New dates coming soon for March and May 2019

You can buy tickets for this event on Eventbrite

An introduction to cider making

Course tutor: Alan Berry (Blackmoor Vale Cider)

Alan’s cider is sold through local farm shops, pubs and clubs and it does well at local shows. In 2016 he was named Supreme Cider Champion at the British Cider Championship held at the Bath and West Show, with his medium cider, beating 600 other competitors – a once in a life time achievement.

In 2015 at the Mid-Somerset Show 2015 Alan was named Somerset Cider Champion while in 2014 at the Bath and West Show his medium farmhouse cider gained a second prize, his sweet farmhouse cider was very highly commended and he was delighted that his cider was voted the People’s Choice from a blind tasting by members of the public over the three days of the show. 

 

The cider-making workshop lasts three hours. The session starts at Empire Farm, where Alan introduces you to the basics of making cider – the different types of apples, and the equipment you will need. Then we drive to Alan’s workshop on the other side of the village, where you can see his orchard and equipment. He demonstrates the whole process including the preparation of the fruit, followed by milling and pressing. Everybody has a chance to join in and help. Then we return to the farm for the final Q and A session with afternoon tea and cake.

Cider making can get a bit mucky, so we provide aprons. However, you are advised to wear old clothes. Everybody gets to take away a set of notes.

Morning workshops run from 9.30 to 12.30, with arrival from 9.15am and afternoon workshops start at 2pm (arrival 1.45) and finish at 5 pm. The price includes all tuition and refreshments.

Saturday 20 October 2 – 5 pm £45 incl vat

 Buy tickets here