Clicking on any of the pictures will open them at full size in the browser window, which means you will have to use the 'back' button to return to the main pages, whereas clicking to the left or right of any picture will open them in a new window, if you fancy a closer look at any of the piccies we've posted! We've included a Google Earth satelite picture of our plots and this years planting plan at the bottom of the page, next to each other. If you choose the Earth view on the satelite image you can rotate the image until it is lined up with the planting plan, then use the arrows in the plan to scroll from Plot 2 to Plot 1.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

I have always had a Dream..........

As a child of the seventies (and thus being exposed to brilliant drama such as the original series of 'Survivors', 'The Day of the Triffids' and of course the classic 'The Good Life') and as a member of a family where it was seen as the norm to build or rennovate your home to a large extent (grandparents self built over a 10 year period a 5 bedroom farmhouse after buying a 2 up 2 down farm in the moors with no water or electric (living in a small touring caravan whilst they did it), my parents bought and completely rennovated a 1920's bungalow, doubling its size, and my aunty rebuilt a 17th century cottage from a derelict condition), I have always dreamt about living a self sufficient lifestyle, not just growing our own food (which we are currently doing to a large degree), but keeping our own livestock, providing our own low impact home and the means to heat and power it.

The more that I find our modern society with its consumer based lifestyle leaving me cold, the more I yearn for my dreams of living in a sustainable low impact way with the land (rather than off it) to become a reality!

Life in the modern world has now become totally detached from the world around us, greed and the pursuit of more 'things' has become the driving force for most, yet without the next 'fix' of what is new, it is an addicts lifestlye that leaves us all finally unfulfilled and jaded with society. As a society we've lost our spiritual connection with the land, in many cases we've lost those skills that would allow us to survive were we deprived of all our modern tools and gadgets, yet anyone that harks back to a simpler and more fulfilling way of life is at best seen as odd, and at worst criminalised by the state!

Given the chance I would love to take on 4 or 5 acres of varied land, containing a piece of woodland (that could be coppiced for building materials and for wood to provide both heat and a crop that could be bartered or sold to help provide those items we are unable to produce for ourselves!), a field or two that could be used for rearing animals and growing feed for their winter eating (chickens for both eggs and eating, a couple of pigs for bacon and pork, a few goats for milk, a housecow for both milk and beef, possibly some sheep for both wool and meat), an area where we could have a large veg patch (not only to feed ourselves, but also to provide income via a possible veg box scheme), an area for a small orchard that could house our bee hives and perhaps the chickens and pigs (another few possible sources of income) and a place where we could build our own low impact earth sheltered home.

Kind of like a River Cottage kind of life, but with the added attraction of a self built eco home, heated by wood from our own woods (with hot water from a back boiler and solar water heaters to augment one another depending on the season), cooking done on camp fire in the summer and in a solid fuel aga in the winter, solar panels, wind turbine and possibly a small waterwheel to provide electricity (for the few mod cons like computer, low voltage lighting, freezers to store produce, etc). Perhaps we'd even consider having a few Yurts that we could rent out for holidays to those who seek an escape into the wilderness, or even run a few courses for those interested in a similar type of life, or even a few pagan camps where likeminded folks can get together.

Sounds idyllic doesnt it? Yet I know that both Lee and I are no fools, we know just how hard work such a life would be, how unlikely it would be to gather enough income to support ourselves in a 'traditional way', but if we were able to succesfully harvest enough to live on, then the need for actual cash would be minimal (some clothes, a few things we cant produce for ourselves (sugar, salt, medicines, etc), a few luxuries, council tax etc) and could possibly be found from selling crops via a veg box scheme, renting out yurts, holding courses and possibly even a part time job or two!

If we were to sell up, get rid of all our possessions and our home, then we could probably net about £25K, enough to buy about 5 acres of agricultural land, kit it out with the livestock and tools we would require and allow us to build a house along the lines of the one in the picture at the top of this post (, allowing us to acchieve our dream and assume the lifestyle we want, living in a sustainable way with minimal impact to the environment! Sure it wouldnt always be a comfortable life, and certainly not an undertaking to be contemplated lightly, but certainly its something that we would both love to do!

"Great, problem solved, lets go and do it!", you may say, however, there's just one tiny problem!

In the UK even if you own the land, you cannot live on it unless you have planning permission, and although there is talk of sustainability at all levels within society at the moment, this does not fully apply to planning laws!

The problem is that the UK planning laws were put into place with laudable intentions of preventing the land being overly developed, in many places it is almost impossible to get residential planning permission, even if you have a case that shows that you need to live on the land to farm it efficiently. You can easily buy land without planning permission, but you cant live on it, which then means you have to either then also buy a place to live or rent somewhere, with the costs that are associated, meaning the plans for a low impact small holding become financially unsustainable!

'Ok, then why not buy somewhere with planning permission then?' I hear you ask? Great, we'd love to, but as the price for land with planning permission is extreme when compared to the price for agricultural land, then this becomes impossible with the current level of funds we could realise!

So, we find ourselves stuck in a catch 22 situation, we know what we would like to do about it, but cant currently proceed due to UK planning law, hence the reason I set up the petition on Number 10's website to create a new class of Low Impact Development Land to allow those of us who wish to live in a different manner to do so!

Please sign the petition at

To add some more food for thought, take a look at the links to the right under the Low Impact Living heading, definite food for thought, especially as peak oil, global warming and global population rise start to have an impact and global resources start to rise in price!


Nick The Grief said...

I agree totally Mrs D. I wish I could sell up and move to the country with a few acres but I don't think Mrs G would. Still it's good to have a dream.

All the best to you both


Dobbys plot said...

Hi Nick, long time no talk!

If we ever get the chance to set up a GYO commune then you'd be welcome to join us! Lol!