Farming is not for the faint of heart and yet in spite of the early starts and struggling markets, many young people are turning towards farming to produce their livelihoods. Whether you’re setting up an equestrian farm, livestock smallholding or organic crop farm, there is help out there to assist the budding UK farmer.
The first step is merely to get started. Chances are you have some experience in the industry if you’re choosing farming over an office job, but, whatever your experience level, it always helps to get more. Try volunteering with other farms; you can find opportunities on sites like wwoof.org and helpx.net and look at guides like this one on The Farmers Guardian for tips, www.farmersguardian.com/home/young-farmers/getting-started.
Build To Last
Once you’ve found the site for the farm, you’ll need to think about what buildings you need. Whether you are taking over an existing farm or starting from scratch, it’s important to ensure your buildings are fit for purpose, maintain excellent living standards for any livestock and are energy efficient, www.rebuildings.co.uk will work with you to custom build what you need and will construct it to a high standard. To compete in today’s competitive market you need to think about future-proofing your farm: making sure that you are competitive and flexible enough to stand up to changes in industry standards.
One of the more interesting changes taking place in the farming industry is the tendency towards agricultural multi-functionality. This means considering the value of your farm from various perspectives including the benefit to local employment, environmental protection, landscape preservation and food security. A new farm is perfectly placed to integrate well with the local community from the outset. Programmes like Care Farm are fascinating for the way they integrate therapy and community projects with the farming business. Also, the recent Open Farm Sunday, www.farmsunday.org, reported their millionth visitor since the scheme started eight years ago. By encouraging members of the community to visit your farm you not only add value to your business as an educational outlet, you also increase potential customers as people learn more about local produce and supporting local industry.
The changes to modern farming are manifold. Not only is the industry itself changing with a much wider spectrum of farming methods to choose form but the way of approaching the industry has changed massively. Whether it be blogging about your farming project or inviting local schools for a tour, there are so many new ways to help a new farm succeed and it seems to be this changing dynamic which is driving more young people to grow their own and grow for the rest of us too.
We’ve all seen the packaged rows of vegetables in Sainsbury’s and Tesco’s. As well as this, we all know where they come from – you can read on the labels which country they were farmed in. And those of us with an ecological conscience will read these labels to ensure that the vegetables were farmed nearby – to ensure that there was no environmentally damaging travel involved in bringing the vegetables to our supermarkets. Have a look at the ‘food miles’ calculator to work out how much your last meal impacted the environment – you’ll be surprised! www.organiclinker.com/food-miles.cfm The closer to home our vegetables are grown, the better for the environment it is. And we as consumers can do our bit: buying locally sourced meat and vegetables, recycling our food waste into compost and buying organic in order to lessen the damage of pesticides.
But what are the options for farmers wanting to lessen their environmental impact? If you are the owner of a small farm, you’ll be pleased to know that there are ways of reducing your carbon footprint so that you can be kind to the environment. Here are just a few tips:
Share: We’ve all heard of co-operative farming by now. If you don’t like sharing responsibility for your farm with others, fair enough, but there are a couple of aspects of co-operative farming you could take inspiration from. For example, sharing machinery. A lot of farm equipment only gets used at a certain time during the year – what do you do with it for the rest of the time? By buying used machinery that you share with your neighbouring farmers, you can not only reduce the wastage of too many agricultural machines, you can also reduce the cost. By pooling your money with one or two neighbouring farms, you can purchase farm machinery for cheap which you can then share the responsibility of maintanence, storage and upkeep. Companies like Cornthwaite Agricultural and Tunstall Tractors supply second hand tractors – have a look with your farming neighbours and see what you can find:
Green pesticides: You may think that in order to operate environmentally friendly agriculture, you need to cut out the pesticides altogether. But this is not the case! Luckily there is ongoing research called agroecology that looks into the existence of natural pesticides that keep those bugs away from your crops without endangering their quality. One exciting development is the discovery of a fungus that serves as a natural pesticide. Read it about it here: www.nerc.ac.uk/business/casestudies/documents/cs-green-pesticide.pdf
As well as these tips, there is a wealth of other tactics you can employ to make sure your farm is living in harmony with the environment. Encouraging the development of small ecosystems by introducing ponds and artificial wetlands is one of the best ways of doing this. Have a look on the EcoFarm website for more ideas! www.eco-farm.org Remember that looking after our planet is one of the most important issues facing us today – and with a large plot of land and the ability to grow and cultivate our Earth in a sustainable way, us small farmers must take on the responsibility of looking after it before it’s too late.
There’s so much to see in the UK that it’s well worth thinking about staying home this summer and taking in all that it has to offer. There are some brilliant places to go and things to do up and down the length of the country. So why not cast off the Costa del Sol, leave Las Palmas behind and say sayonara to Spain in favour of a holiday where the heart is. Check out the blog below to see some of the different ways you can take in all that the UK has to offer.
Much maligned, often derided, the caravan has become a universal point of holiday hatred. However, I would hazard that the majority of people that hold this opinion have never sampled the joys of caravanning themselves, nor the freedom and fun it can bring. As most of us know, there are two types of caravan, static and mobile.
The names are rather self-explanatory, but each offers their own advantages. The static is a true home away from home, a little slice of holiday homeliness for a one off retreat or a repeat visit year on year. Pitched up amongst parks of other enthusiastic caravaners you’ll find yourself in good company, surrounded by on-site attractions and often easy routes to the beach or into the nearest town. With hundreds of sites up and down the country, whether you’re looking to rent one for a holiday or buy one outright, it’s worth checking out http://www.static-caravan.co.uk/ as their website brings together buying, renting and information on holiday parks all in one place.
Mobile caravans may be known as the scourge of the motorway, but when you’re the proud owner of one, you have the freedom to go wherever you please. Whilst it’s still the done thing to pull up at predetermined caravan sites, with a mobile caravan you’re not limited to these designated spots, and can pitch up anywhere you want within reason. They come in all shapes and sizes too, as can be seen on http://www.campingandcaravanningclub.co.uk , so whether you’re after a more traditional purchase or something a bit more retro like our picture above, there’s a caravan to suit every taste.
The clue is in the name with this one, a motorised home to take you wherever you wish on your English excursion or Scottish sojourn. Not nearly as stigmatised as the caravan, the motorhome is less cumbersome, equally practically way to holiday on the road. If you’re thinking of buying a motorhome it’s best to go to specialty outlets like http://www.tynevalleymotorhomes.com/, who will have more knowledge on the specifics of motorhome care than a regular dealership. Plus, you can’t do this in a caravan!
For a truly cost friendly adventure, grab yourself a tent from http://www.outdoorworld.co.uk/ and enjoy the great outdoors as much as possible. It can be all beans-round-a-campfire if you want, but modern developments in camping means that you no longer have to scrimp on the luxuries at no loss of that truly authentic al fresco experience. For those looking to combine two holiday experiences, if you have a little extra cash to splash then you have to check this out too http://www.firebox.com/product/3644/VW-Camper-Van-Tent. In all honesty this one is a little bit pricey but it’s both a tent and a classic VW camper, and you can’t get cooler than that.
With plenty of options available it’s worth investigating the ways you can enjoy Britain’s wild side. There’s no need to migrate to Majorca every time you want to escape from it all, just jump in your caravan, fire up the motorhome or pitch up that tent and enjoy all the UK has to offer without sacrificing the comfort of home.
I have always been a bit of a city mouse and the fact that cities never sleep really appealed to me, as neither did I. All that not sleeping and staying up with the city has made me tired. I am tired of the hustle and bustle, the noise and the light pollution. It would be nice to wonder around at night and be able to see the stars. So I have made the bold decision to leave the city and try my hand at being a country mouse. Not only will I be able to see the stars again for the first time, in a long time, apparently I will actually end up living longer then all those city dwellers. According to an article in The Guardian ‘men in rural areas on average can expect to celebrate their 78th birthday – two years longer than those in the city – while women will pass 82, almost a year and a half more than their urban peers’. This is a definite positive, now I just have to decide which bit of the country I want to go to.
After much deliberation, which was mostly checking how long it took to get to London by train, I decided upon The New Forest. I want to be a country mouse, but that doesn’t mean I have to give up the bright city lights forever. The New Forest is only an hour and a half from London and is apparently a place of great historical significance. The New Forest website states that William the Conqueror chose the area as his ‘new hunting forest’ in 1079 and because of this the forest has remained almost completely unchanged for almost 1000 years. As a ‘commoner’ living in the New Forest I am entitled to keep and let pigs, geese, chickens, ponies and various horned beasts, but no goats for some reason. So I living in the country could take me part of the way to becoming self sufficient, though to be safe I might start with some chickens and see how I do.
I have chosen an area of the New Forest called Lymington which not only has beautiful countryside but also is right by the sea, which will smell much sweeter than the Thames on a hot summers day. Luckily for me there are plenty of houses for sale in Lymington so I am sure I will find something that suits me and my not exactly limitless budget.
I love my job don’t get me wrong, but some days after sitting at my desk for 7 hours, as I’m driving home down the county roads I become extremely envious of the ‘outdoor’ life style!
When I was a little boy I used to dream of being a farmer. I loved animals, loved being outside and getting muddy and messy! Everyone has a dream job when they are a child, this article in The Guardian is a great read, ‘When I grow up, I want to be…’.
My prospects changed as I grew up and I became indoctrinated to the idea that in order to succeed in life I should pursue University and higher education, so I did and I am a successful accountant with a lovely life and family, but the 9-5 of everyday does begin to grind you down. Would I be happier if I was living and working the outdoor lifestyle?
I spoke to one of my friends Dads, who is a sheep farmer in Wales about this. He told me how hard work farming is, early mornings and longs days in the outdoors would make a grim prospect for most, but the rewards, especially financial if you are successful at farming are great! Take a look at this article in Time Magazine, ‘Want to Make More than a Banker? Become a Farmer!’. It really expressed the lucrative potential of farming fot those who are craving the outdoor lifestyle and job option.
How you I become a farmer:
The farming industry is not an easy one to break into, firstly, you will need to choose the kind of farming which you are most interested. Research the different types and see which most appeals to you and you skills and talents.
From speaking to farmers about how they would suggest breaking into the farming industry they have all said they experience is key, and would urge anyone who is looking to do into farming to get experience of a variety of farms so they can pick up different techniques and practices.
After that you would need to find yourself some farming land which would work well for your chosen farming area, and you will need to invest in your farm building and equipment. When I was speaking to my friends father who was the sheep farmer he suggested Re Buildings as a great company for your agricultural buildings, equestrian buildings, farm building or livestock buildings. From his experience their sheep housing has always been really great quality.
So if you are bored of your day to day office job, why not move to the country, live the outdoor lifestyle and work as a farmer.
Countryside holidays make a good alternative to beach holidays. Many people may think it’s the cheaper option but luxury countryside retreats don’t always come as cheap as you think. this is because of their very high standards and range of foods and activities. You’ll be surprised at just how much truly is on offer when you venture out of the big bad city, forget planes and the Costa del Not Britain and opt for a holiday closer to home.
You may think that countryside retreats are only for those who enjoy bad weather, walking long distance or have a dog, but this is simply untrue. Whether it’s winding down at a country spa, isolating yourself on a romantic retreat or going for the stunning scenery, there’s more than meets the eye to the country.
According to an article in the Guardian, a third of Britons stayed at home for the main holidays last year. Here’s a few reasons why you should consider it too.
If you’re going to holiday in England, you’re not short of options in the country. The Lake district offer a range of holidays and the many lakes and attractions will keep you busy all day. Whilst there why not visit Beatrix Potter’s Museum; a great day out for adults and kids alike.
Wales is full of myths and legends and this historically rich land offers a good holiday too. Why not visit Stackpole near Pembroke for something truly romantic. The sandy beaches and wooded areas present the perfect setting for a romantic getaway whilst offering outstanding hotels and accommodation. What can be more romantic than a walk along the beach at sunset-? And without the price of flying to Hawaii!
I’ve been to Edinburgh which is rich with history and culture, but what better way to escape the buzz of a city than the Shetland islands. The Shetland Islands are where the North Sea meet the Atlantic and is rich with wildlife making it a spectacular place to visit There’s plenty to do there, including riding their Shetland ponies, birdwatching, scuba diving… the list goes on! Shetland hotels such as the Herrislea Hotel are dripping with luxury and sophistication. It makes me wonder why I ever want to escape from the UK at all! The hotel has a restaurant offering locally sourced delights.
Overall, The UK has plenty to offer, so escape to the country instead of from it!
I’m finding it hard to believe that it’s nearly the middle of March as I write this blog. It’s snowing hard and fast outside my office window. Today is a complete contrast to yesterday, which was lovely and sunny and whilst it was still chilly outside, it made my thoughts turn to the summer and forthcoming opportunities for walking in Devon, my favourite part of the UK.
I feel really blessed to be able to get away pretty much any weekend I choose to my Mum and Dad’s static caravan in Stoke Fleming, near Dartmouth. If I could choose anywhere in Britain to live it would be Dartmouth. I need to live in the Midlands for my work, but it’s my long term aim to move to Dartmouth when I retire.
If you’ve not been to Dartmouth, I highly recommend you make it a place you visit. It’s such a beautiful place. It hasn’t been spoiled with tacky gift shops and amusement arcades like some of the UK’s coastal towns. I could happily sit on one of the many benches alongside the River Dart and just watch the world go by. There’s always something moving on the water – from little river taxi’s shuttling people to and from their sailing yachts, to the big training vessels from Britannia Royal Naval College. The banks of the river Dart were the backdrop for the popular BBC Drama, The Onedin Line, starting Peter Gilmore and Jessica Benton. Word has it that many of the attempts at filming were spoiled by the Steam trains from the Kingswear Railway passing by sounding their whistles during filming.
The main thing that draws me to Dartmouth so often is the wonderful opportunity to get out walking. There’s such a good variety of walking terrain to explore. Within easy reach of Dartmouth there are coastal pathways, long pebble beaches and the vast Dartmoor. It is a walkers’ paradise.
I’m hoping to make my first trip down the M5 to Devon in late April. I don’t make any plans for my first weekend there each season. It might sound strange but I feel such a connection to Dartmouth that I feel like I need to devote my first weekend there to re acquainting myself with the town. It also gives me the chance to find out what will be going on during the coming year and make plans for future visits. One of the best ways I’ve found to do this is by using the Days out South West guides that you can pick up from the tourist information centres. They really are a great way to make the most of your day out in Devon.
Writing this is making me think of just abandoning it all for a day or two and heading South West in the car. I will have to be strong and save myself for April and the better weather. If you are looking for a destination for a day out, weekend break or better still, main holiday I highly recommend you head to this beautiful little town.
Walking is a great way to keep yourself fit and healthy, and if you enjoying walking outdoors, it is one way of seeing some of the picturesque landscapes of the British countryside. It is important to be prepared when going on long walks, especially if you feel like turning your jaunty walk into a hike, as accidents can happen. If you are far away from civilisation you will need to be able to look after yourself or a friend before help can reach you.
- So to start off make sure you have more food and water then you will need, you don’t want to be caught short without anything to keep you going.
- Have a well stocked first aid kit, preferably in a waterproof bag so that if you need anything it is going to be usable. It would also be wise to have a basic knowledge of first aid so that you know how to help someone if they become injured.
- Always have a good water-proof and wind-proof coat that is well insulated, as you do not want to get hypothermia while you are waiting for assistance.
- Make sure your phone is fully charged and in a case that ensures that it will not be damaged if you have a fall, or become water logged if it falls in the water. Everyone who is walking with you should have a phone so that you will not be without a phone if you need to contact someone for help.
- Know who to contact. If you are not too far into the countryside, and you know you could be reached by vehicle call the emergency services, if you are further out or halfway up a mountain call Mountain Rescue, to do this dial 999 or 112 and ask for Police, then ask for Mountain Rescue and make sure you can tell them exactly where you are, what happened and what injuries have been sustained.
Most walks or hikes that you go on will be risk free, but being prepared can give you peace of mind knowing that you and your friends will be sorted out for any eventuality.
Are you looking for somewhere to stay when taking a short break in the countryside to have a long weekend walking in the hills or looking for accommodation for a long two-week summer holiday? If so, why not consider renting a holiday cottage for a week or two in the beautiful British countryside.
You’ll be surprised how homely many of the holiday cottages available for rental feel and most can take up to two families through 3 or 4 bedrooms. Whether you are looking to rent a holiday cottage in Wales, in Scotland or in the heart of the Lake District or Yorkshire Dales, you can be certain there is going to be a wide selection to choose from in your desired area.
If you have previously stayed in one of the UK’s many holiday cottages in previous years and enjoyed it that much, why not consider purchasing yourself a holiday cottage which you will be free to spend the summer weeks in, as well as rent out to other holiday goers in the periods when you do not want to be there yourself.
Whether you are considering renting or buying holiday cottages, take a look around your desired areas and there is sure to be something which catches your eye. From the heart of the Lake District to the Yorkshire Dales, holiday cottages are available for rental and sale in almost all areas in a variety of sizes and there is no doubt that they ensure a peaceful and relaxing week or two away in the summer months
Walking is something considered a hobby or enjoyment activity by millions around the world and is something which can be undertaken for a large majority of reasons. Some enjoy walking in the countryside as a way to spend quality time with friends and family and some prefer to take a walk down the local canal as a way to keep fit. Whatever the reason for taking an enjoyable long walk, it is definitely something enjoyed by a large percentage of the population.
Take yourself off to the Lake District, Peak District or Yorkshire Dales for a short break for a number of walks through the hills and forests or simply take a regular walk down the local canal or along a local river. It is a perfect way to relax after a long and stressful week at work and also to spend time with loved ones in an evening or at a weekend.
You don’t need any specialist equipment to go walking however packing up your lunch and a flask of coffee is sure to keep you going for the full day and will save the hassle of trying to find a cafe or snack bar in the middle of nowhere.
If you’ve never been for a walk in the countryside, for whatever reason that may be, try it and it is almost certainly guaranteed you’ll be left wondering why you’ve always stuck to the local walks in the past. If it’s for health benefits that you enjoy taking a walk, try walking to work as opposed to taking the car and you’ll be surprised how good you feel after doing so for a week or more.