Bringing home the bacon: smallholding for beginners
‘The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings.’
- Masanobu Fukoka, Japanese farmer and philosopher
Have you ever wanted to keep livestock and be self-sufficient? Then you are thinking about starting up a smallholding - a mini-farm. In Australia they call them ‘Hobby farms’, in New Zealand they’re ‘Lifestyle blocks’. The main value in developed countries is the rural lifestyle they afford, and the self-improvement referred to in the above quote, but in the third world smallholdings are still a principal means of support for many families. The International Fund for Agricultural Development estimates that there are around 500 million smallholder farms in the world, feeding almost 2 billion people.
Next time you go to the supermarket and pick up a shrink-wrapped tray of pork chops, think of the satisfaction you’d get if you had reared them yourself. The question is, would you want to go to the effort? If the answer is yes or maybe, there’s a course on smallholding for beginners, so read on.
A smallholding can consist of anything from a few chickens and a pig to a full-blown sheep, goat, pig, poultry, dairy, crop and beekeeping operation. In addition to self-sufficiency or near-self sufficiency in food, a smallholding can provide income through selling excess produce.
For many people this is an idle dream, but if you’re serious about it, there’s a one-day Smallholding For Beginners course at Humble by Nature in Monmouth, Wales. They run courses on specific aspects of smallholding, such as Lambing, Sheep Shearing, Beekeeping, Rearing Pigs for Meat and Raising Chickens for Meat. They also offer training in what to do with the meat, in courses like Pork Butchery, Curing & Sausage Making. But Smallholding For Beginners is a one-day overview of the whole operation, designed as a taster for the curious and a foundation for the committed but inexperienced.
Attendees get classroom sessions on the basics of running a smallholding before getting hands-on with the animals. There’s no e-learning here, it’s about getting covered in mud and other substances in the name of ecology and self-sufficiency.
Humble by Nature was founded by TV presenter Kate Humble, TV producer Ludo Graham and a team of smallholding management experts.