we are Sue and John.
We are always busy on our 5 acre eco-smallholding in the Lincolnshire Fens. When we are not here we both work as primary school teachers. John only works part time so is on the smallholding most days.
We grow most of our own vegetables and fruit and raise our own animals and poultry in harmony with nature.
What it’s like here:
The landscape is FLAT which offers its own sense of beauty. The skies are huge and the horizon endless. Space is everywhere. Here under the big skies and in the open landscape we have created a special place, a haven set in the Fenland farmland. You will find a patchwork of unique spaces where we spend our time quietly working alongside nature.
We have an extensive food plot where we grow a wide range of vegetables, fruit and nuts for our self-sufficient lifestyle. We have a mixed orchard which includes hedgerow crops and leads into our young woodland. Most of our woodland work is performed in the winter, but this is a lovely place to relax with nature and contemplate. We also have a large willow holt where we grow our own willow for basketry and living willow projects.
The place is full of birds and animals. Most importantly we have Boris and Arthur, our two very friendly dogs. You will also meet Gerry and Angel, our farm cats. There is plenty of livestock, including our flock of Shetland sheep which we breed for meat and wool, bee hives, chickens, ducks and turkeys. There may be pigs here too when you come.
We use no chemicals on our land, preferring to work hand in hand with nature. We use minimal powered machinery and have recently transferred to a no dig way of growing.
We didn’t set out with permaculture in mind, but what we have naturally come to ourselves is a very close match.
Cooking / shopping
Help with Eco project
Other opportunities while you are here:
In the evenings we spend our time on our varied interests, most of which are based on using the products of the smallholding. We don’t claim to be experts in any one thing, but we can show you the basics of wool crafts (spinning, peg-looming, felting), willow weaving from our home-grown willows, baking, making preserves and much more.
Add this to everything we can teach you about growing your own food and keeping livestock and you should eventually leave here buzzing with ideas and new knowledge.
For any keen birdwatchers, I am something of an expert and can teach you all about our bird life. I would be happy to take you out further afield to nature reserves.
Out and about:
We are about 6 miles from the small town of Holbeach which has a range of shops.
The larger Fenland towns of Wisbech, King’s Lynn, Boston and Spalding are all about 20 miles away, as is the city of Peterborough.
Peterborough train station is under an hour from London.
We are 10 miles inland of The Wash and within easy reach by car of the Norfolk coast with its wonderful beaches and network of nature reserves.
We are open for helpers from 1st April until October and would want people to stay for at least a week and preferably longer.
We are looking for one or two people to stay with us, help out with our smallholding tasks and share and learn alongside us.
You need to be enthusiastic and fairly fit. You need to like working outdoors too, although if the weather turns really bad we can usually find work under cover. You need to like getting dirty!
Your work would be varied, mostly helping out in our food plot. You would also have the opportunity to help out with the livestock. This includes a range of daily tasks such as feeding and watering and cleaning out. It also involves spending plenty of time just enjoying watching the animals!
We are always developing our land and there is bound to be some project or other that you can help out with. Often we will be learning together.
Jobs are very varied so you will never have to do too much of any one thing, unless you want to!
Typical tasks include: Feeding the poultry and animals; collecting eggs; changing poultry bedding; weeding; turning compost; sowing and planting; hoeing; mowing; mulching; harvesting; cooking; bread-making; making preserves.
There will be projects to get involved in too if you wish, such as building and construction, fencing, creating wildlife areas and paths.
Accommodation and meals:
You would be staying in our caravan which is near the house alongside one of our ponds. It has two double beds, cooking facilities and a basic toilet and shower. It may be possible to sleep in our tipi too if it is not being used for any courses. If you have your own camper van, we have plenty of space where you could park off road.
There is also a communal room in the house for your use and easy access to a conventional toilet and bath/shower. We have wireless internet access in the house.
Breakfast and lunch will be provided every day. Breakfast will be self-service. Lunch will be prepared and shared together. We will prepare evening dinner which you will share with us on the days you are helping out on the smallholding. You are welcome to occasionally cook for us too. On your two days off we may ask you to cater for yourself in the evening but we would provide the food and you are always welcome to help yourself to all the fresh produce from our garden.
PLEASE NOTE this is a rural area and there are no buses within walking distance and it can be difficult to get a taxi. There is a small shop four miles away and the nearest small town is 6 miles. We can occasionally drop you off and pick up from a local town but we would strongly advise that you have your own transport if you want to explore the local area and further afield.
We are happy to pick you up from Peterborough or Spalding stations on arrival and departure but basically if you do not have your own transport, once you are here with us the smallholding will be your whole world.
The work is 5 hours a day, 5 days a week.
Much of the work is outdoors, so please bring WARM old clothes - working coat/jacket and work boots or wellingtons ARE essential, even in summer as we cannot guarantee the weather!
You will need your own towels and wash stuff, a torch, and other personal stuff you need.
You need to like dogs as we have two very friendly ones!
We are very happy to help you improve your English but you MUST already have a moderate to good fluency in spoken English.
Other information: Vegetarians and Vegans
We raise our own livestock and some of this is to provide us with meat. We are not vegetarian so the kitchen is not meat free. However you are still most welcome if you are vegetarian or vegan and we are happy to cook suitable meals most nights of the week. John used to be vegan so knows how to accommodate your needs. However, we do eat meat, eggs, honey etc produced on the smallholding so would not always be eating vegetarian/vegan ourselves. We would ask that you occasionally cook for yourself but we will supply store cupboard basics as well as all the fresh produce you can pick.
We are non smokers so we ask for no smoking inside our accommodation, but smoking externally would not be a problem.
We have beehives so you will meet the bees! They are usually quite peaceful, but if you have an allergy to bee stings it might not be worth the risk staying here.
This is our first year of having volunteers and we are excited to welcome you into our smallholding.
If you want varied days and tranquil evenings, the opportunity to learn some traditional crafts, and the chance to stay under the huge skies in the Fens, this is the place for you!
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
Maximum 4-5 hours a day, 5 days a week