Watching programmes like My Dream Farm or River Cottage can be both inspiring and wonderfully frustrating when what you really want to do is get out of your armchair, get your hands truly dirty and decide once and for all if smallholding and increasing self-sufficiency is genuinely the life for you. Smallholding requires you to master many trades and make numerous decisions, and people have huge numbers of questions about it all (and the learning never stops). We deliver training days that will give you a real flavour of the life, and an understanding of what's involved day to day, and we even have a course that will show you how to build your very own website.
Currently we deliver the following courses of interest to budding and existing smallholders and those that run small farms. We have a dedicated website for our training courses or click on the links below for details:
- Introduction to Smallholding: two day course
- Smallholding Weekend: two days of practical fun on the farm
- An introduction to sheep, pigs and cattle: two day course
- Cattle for Beginners: one day course
- Advanced Smallholding - looking beyond the basics: two day course
- Apple & Cider day: making the most of your orchard with juice, cider, vinegars, chutneys & jams: one day course including apple pressing & lots more
- Build your own cob oven: one day course
- Building & maintaining your own website - for farmers, smallholders and breed societies: one day course
Bespoke training: If you want something particular that you can't find elsewhere, if we have the skill and the knowledge we can create a bespoke course specially; we are always happy to tailormake a course for you, so do contact us to discuss, and if we can help, we will.
Our style of training:Our courses are designed to be lively, interactive sessions, with lots of time spent outside experiencing it for real on the farm (rain or no rain), so that we combine theory with practice and send you away with a real sense of what you can do next. And because this is a working farm, there won't be courses during April - we're too busy lambing.
Your trainers: It's important that you know that we run the farm ourselves, with only the occasional bit of contract help (for winter hedgelaying, bumping in lines of fence posts and summer shearing), so we do everything else, every day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Debbie is also a professional trainer specialising in the arts sector and Andrew has delivered plenty of software training in his time. We’ve been doing this smallholding/farming-on-a-small-scale lark now for nearly two decades and before that worked in our spare time on a farm for a number of years, so have managed to gather quite a bit of knowledge along the way.
The venue: All our farm/smallholding related training takes place here on our 108 acre farm in the culm grasslands of Devon on the fringes of Dartmoor.
Dates: Course dates are published as early as possible. If you are unable to make the listed course dates we are happy to discuss alternatives.
Costs: The fee for our courses can be found on the relevant course pages - click on the links above.
Course materials: We provide simple, helpful handouts, a booklist and a wide range of pamphlets for you to take away so that you can concentrate on what’s being said and discussed rather than taking copious notes. But do bring a notebook for those off the cuff gems! We also list a range of books that we have found particularly useful, available through Amazon.
The food: We provide tea/coffee, a hot homemade lunch and a Devon cream tea, all made from our own produce wherever possible, seasons allowing. Typical lunch menus would be veg patch soup, or Scotch Broth using our own mutton, with homemade rolls, local cheeses, and a variety of our own chutneys, or perhaps shepherds pie with savoy cabbage stirfry, or venison casserole with mushrooms and shallots and a mega baked spud, washed down with apple juice or cider from our orchard. For tea there'll be homemade scones and jams with local clotted cream or Noemi's hot apple cake with thick cream. In the summer there might be salads from the garden, duck egg mayonnaise, slices of roast Berkshire gammon or whatever looks good that day.
Access: Unfortunately the farm is not suitable for people in wheelchairs. Please note that the terrain is quite hilly, uneven in places, and very wet in others (just your typical culm grassland farm).
Dogs: We have big, friendly dogs who will undoubtedly make their presence felt at some point. We do ask you NOT to bring your own dogs to the farm as they find our training confusing and somewhat difficult with paws.
Accommodation: For those of you travelling some distance, we don’t provide overnight accommodation but there are some lovely options very close by. You can find our suggestions here.
Booking: Booking is simple. Just send us your name, address, phone number and email address indicating which course you want to book with your preferred date, and we’ll send you an invoice (payment is required in advance), directions to the farm and any other information you might need. And don’t forget to tell us if you have any dietary restrictions.
Gifts: More and more of you are buying a place on one of our courses as a gift, so if you are treating a special someone let us know and we can send them a card by email or snail mail as you prefer to let them know about the treat ahead.
Other training opportunities: Our neighbours across the road at South Yeo Farm East who have a great collection of rare breed poultry as well as other livestock, offer a range of complementary training from poultry keeping to wildlife pond creation.
For all details of our smallholder training courses please go to our dedicated smallholder training courses website.