What's a Smallholding?
A smallholding is literally a small land holding. It's a term that originated in Europe and is widely used throughout the UK to describe a lifestyle of rural self-reliance, frugality and simplicity. Many smallholders make a living by combining part time paid employment with sales of produce and other smallholding produced goods/services, but every situation is different. The American equivalent for smallholding is "homesteading", and other variants include crofting (Scotland), hobby farming (Australia), and torpare (Sweden). Most of the world's farmers are smallholders, and most of these are women.
Do you farm commercially?
Yes, and no. We grow a small commercial quantity of avocados, which we offer for sale at various local outlets, but on the whole, we grow mostly for our immediate household. Any surplus is first shared with family/friends, and any remaining surplus is bartered or sold among the local community. We have farmed commercially in the past - in 2013/14 on shared land at the farm of some friends, and in more recent years we ran a little market garden here at Half Moon Farm. The world needs good commercial farmers, but the true solution to the looming food crisis is a population that switches from the mindset of a consumer to a producer. We want to see more home growers and smallholders!
Ask us a question about our smallholding life and if it's relevant and interesting, we'll post it here.
Our first garden was inspired by reading Linda Woodrow's book The Permaculture Home Garden in the late 1990's and permaculture is a design system we've mucked around with ever since, without really embracing it as an overarching philosophy. However, it was after Justin read another book, Retrosuburbia (by permaculture cofounder David Holmgren), that a passion for permaculture has been ignited and it's principles more fully used to design Half Moon Farm.
What is permaculture?
I (Justin), see permaculture as a system of ethics and design principles that are useful for creating not just gardens and farms, but happy, productive lives. To me, permaculture goes far beyond the popular conception of swales, herb spirals and forest gardens. It's many layered, yet I don't view it in dogmatic, religious ways. Every site and individual is unique, and like a beautifully tailored shirt, permaculture principles should be custom made to fit each situation.
How do you make a living?
Kylie works off the farm as a part time primary school teacher and I work from home as a freelance gardening journalist (something I've been doing since 2001). We also sell small amounts of produce, primarily avocados, to the local community. Between these activities and living as frugally as we can, we've been able to get by on the equivalent of a single, smallish full time wage for the last twenty years.