Our Lifestyle

‘The Good Life’

We live a self sufficient lifestyle in a beautiful corner of Herefordshire. We grow our own food (organically and biodynamically) & make our own bread, jam and preserves. We run a carbon neutral home, burning logs from local woods & generate solar electricity. And live on less than £6,000 a year.

We offer a unique opportunity for visitors to have a taste of our lifestyle for either £15 per person or £25 per person for a half-day educational session, and learn what it takes to live a self-sufficient lifestyle.   

Depending on the season and your interest, we’ll introduce you to:

Gardening with Permaculture and Biodynamics

We practice permaculture and are currently studying the subject, not through a course but from the land itself. We also practice and study biodynamic growing in the same way, using not just the moon calendar but also the various formulae available, including a homeopathic remedy for our compost heaps and septic tank!

Growing Unusual Foods

We grow a complete meal with proteins from plants, starches throughout the year and of course vegetables of all kinds. You could call us a vegan small holding. We grow between 35 and 40 different types of vegetable. We experiment with a wide range of unusual plants including growing quinoa, amaranth, chickpeas, lentils, oca, tree spinach and goji berries as well as a whole variety of ‘normal’ vegetables and fruits.

Improving our soil with “No Dig”

We don’t dig our soil. We are trying to allow the soil to evolve into a natural plant habitat by not digging. This allows the mychorizal threads in the soil to flourish and they in turn help the plants access the nutrients in the soil. We put compost on the surface and let the worms and bacteria take this into the soil. We don’t even dig out old plant roots!

Making Compost (under 3 months and no turning!)

We make our own compost in 4 to 6 weeks. We use a method developed during the war to construct a thriving hot decomposition process that produces rich compost in a very short time.  Turning compost is so outdated.

Using Hot Beds

We use hot beds to raise our seedlings and tender plants. Horse manure heaps are topped off with soil and the seeds and plants placed in this layer. They get warmth and shelter to grow quickly and strongly.

Making Hay

We make our own hay by hand in our meadow in the summer, turning the grasses in the dry sunny periods and making a hay rick. This helps the wild flowers to thrive and increases the bio-diversity of the meadow. We use the hay to make compost, line the strawberry beds and protect young tender plants from birds and frosts.

Laying Hedges

We lay the hedge around our 1.5 acre field using traditional methods.  Hedge laying creates robust habitats for small birds and mammals.  In the early spring, we gather young  saplings from a local wood and build small wattle fences around the gardens. This creates a natural barrier to avoid rabbits enjoying the fruits of our labour!

Creating a Wild Flower Meadow

We have developed a wild flower meadow and have recorded over 60 different wild flowers in our acre and a half.  We grow a variety of wildflower plants.  In the late summer, we gather the grasses and seeds to lay on waste land or make seed bombs to spread around our field.

Being Carbon Neutral

We are a carbon neutral household using solar panels for electricity, foraged wood as our only heating source, rain water collection and solar drying. We re-use and recycle most of what we use.

Foraging Fruits, Seeds and Nuts

We forage throughout the year. Wild garlic and nettles in early spring, elder flowers and berries in summer, mushrooms and nuts in autumn. We make our foods from basic ingredients and love nothing more than creating and using recipes for whatever we come across. We bake our own bread using organic flours, make our own jams, ciders and and wines and sell our surpluses through our local Food Hub, so there is no waste.

Being Conservationists

We connect with the land to find a harmony between our needs and its needs, whether this be on our field or in the woodlands all around. We are passionate conservationists – both having worked in woodland management with Trees for Life. Andrew is a volunteer speaker for The Woodland Trust.  Yolande established the Hedgehog Festival in Ross-on-Wye to celebrate the town’s ancient links to this humble animal and with her team teaches children how to create hedgehog friendly habitats in their schools and home gardens. She is also the Chair of the local ‘Unnecessary Plastic’ campaign group.

Spending Less

You’ll also get a chance to learn how to live on less than £6,000 a year.  In addition to the above, we also make our own cleaning products (including shampoo) from items found in our kitchen cupboard.  Our life is rich and abundant so why not come and learn how to live in alternate eco-nomy.

Working in Community

For us, self sufficiency isn’t about isolating ourselves from others.  We are part of a community.  We have neighbours and a wider network where we share skills, resources and expertise to achieve everyday tasks or larger scale projects .  Working in community enables us to be resilient and keeps us open-minded.  We are active members in local community groups.  In our past life, we would have given money.  Now we give our time.

If you want to learn more and come on a two hour or a half day educational session, contact us today:

A Taste of Self Sufficiency

Caenwood, Howle Hill



Phoning us: +44 1989 563790
E-mailing us: caenwood@yahoo.co.uk

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