Countryside Life: Smallholdings
PUBLISHED: 01:16 28 April 2011 | UPDATED: 19:16 20 February 2013
Small is beautiful for Kate Fox and Andy Gill - their 'microholding' on the edge of Midhurst is 12ft wide and 100ft long - but their principles are huge
"We try to do everything as sustainably as possible and live with a low environmental impact along permaculture principles, says Kate Fox. We spend very little money, re-using or recycling wherever possible. For example, all the materials for our raised beds, greenhouse, shed, deck, paths and chicken run are reclaimed, the pig ark was from eBay, their water tank from the local freecycle network and the electric fence from a skip!
We make anything else we need from local materials such as coppiced sweet chestnut for the log sheds, summerhouse, quail aviary and plant supports. We try to run a low input system and not rely on unsustainable, bought-in products or fossil fuels. We collect rainwater from all our roofs, compost absolutely anything that will rot, make our own liquid plant feed, and collect seeds from our veg plants for future crops.
The electric fence round our pigs is powered by a solar panel bought from a car boot sale and we only use hand tools in the garden. Practically the only thing brought in is rotted horse manure from a friend's horses that are kept on certified organic land.
I have strong animal welfare principles and believe that chickens and pigs have the toughest time in conventional agriculture, so all our animals are kept in enriched environments, mimicking their natural habitat as much as possible, says Kate.
This enables Kate and partner Andy Gill to express their instinctive behaviour whilst producing high quality eggs and meat. Due to the lack of space, we decided to get ex- battery hens knowing that, despite the fact they are kept in a run of 6 sq metres, this is a vast improvement on the small bare cage they spent the first year of their lives in. Their run is totally fox-proof, so they can come and go from the house at will as there is no need to shut them in at night. They are fed greens from the garden each day, and as many slugs as we can find. We now have four hens and get a constant supply