Who’s behind Small Farm Future?

I’m Juliet Fay and my husband and partner in The Welsh Poultry Centre is Steve Merritt.

We started our life together in Papua New Guinea back in the early nineties. There we got married and worked in community development (Steve with VSO, Voluntary Service Overseas).

Fast forward through two organic farm businesses, and now we’re here on a 20 acre farm in West Wales with 3 children and sundry livestock. We run a mixed holding and share our farming and marketing skills with other rural businesses in the UK and overseas.

I’m the marketing head. I’m also a wild swimmer.

But now we have  a new project……..

Creating a Smallholding Training Centre

Steve’s spent more than 35 years working in and advising on small scale agricultural production from the Pacific to the Himalayas and since 2002, in Wales. I’ve spent 20 years promoting sustainable food and teaching others to market rural goods.

This new project has many parts.

  • converting a redundant building,
  • creating courses,
  • building an online presence,
  • publishing resources
  • building a tribe

Why set up this blog?
Three reasons.

  1. To give the project momentum. Nothing like going public with your goals and aspirations to keep you on track.
  2. To record that journey for ourselves and others who aspire to similar projects.
  3. To build a following. By sharing what we’re doing and why, we hope to attract people who share our vision of the future and want to gain practical skills and knowledge to create abundant holdings whether that’s a half acre garden or 40 acre small farm.

Why now?

The idea for the Smallholding Training Centre was born in 2010, but it is only this year we’ve secured planning permission to convert a barn into the training centre with bunkhouse style accommodation.

The world is changing….. the demand for small scale farming skills will increase.

So now it’s time to shine a light on the project.

So what’s the timeframe on this?
As Winston Churchill said, “Plans are of little importance, but planning is essential“, so though dates may change here is the plan so far:

  1. Publish updated Poultry Guide (a practical guide to commercial outdoor poultry production) by end of October 2012 (Update 2: The Free-Range and Organic Poultry Handbook is out now. Go see!)
  2. Write 2nd publication for Small Farm Futures and publish by Christmas 2012 (and this is definitely over ambitious so lets say Easter 2013).
  3. Training Centre building project complete by December 2013

There are plenty more goals to add, but I like working in 3s, so let’s start with those.

What will you find on this blog?

There are five topics that I’m going to be talking about here on Small Farm Future

  • My thoughts on the future of small farms  Essentially I’m an optimist. So rather than ruin your day by harping on about the problems, I’m keen to focus on solutions. I’ll be sharing inspiring ideas and examples of people and communities producing, sharing, processing and selling food and non food farm products in ways that can sustain us all in the future.
  • E-publishing I’m just starting out with this, so will be sharing my findings and challenges.
  • Writing and drawing I can’t think why I haven’t started a blog before. I’ve been writing all my life and in 2011 took a cartooning course to see if I was wrong when I decided at age 11 that I couldn’t draw. I’ll let you judge that one!
  • The building project oh yes, the monster project. I will be showing you step by step how we tackle bringing an old stone Welsh barn back from the brink.
  • The smallholding training courses and resources The vision is for an offline resource with live courses but also an online resource for small scale farmers across the globe. On this blog I will share the steps we take to turn that vision into reality.

As resources are published, I’ll be promoting them here too.

Why might this blog interest you?

This blog is for four types of people:

  • Me  – I’ve always been a journal writer (but usually for myself). I can’t stop myself from snapping away with cameras to record the changes around us. So now I can put this all in one place. It’s also about being accountable and keeping the momentum going.
  • People who dream of having a small parcel of land where they can grow food, keep some animals and get back in touch with something meaningful.
  • People who already have a smallholding or small farm and people who want to develop a whole range of skills from pasture management to haymaking, keeping pigs and poultry to processing and selling farm produce and promoting it using digital tools.
  • Smallholders in and around West Wales who want a physical hub where they can learn skills, share ideas, skills and pool resources

If you fall into any of those groups, I hope you’ll share the journey.

See you on the blog


P.S. Go and check out our articles on poultry and small scale farming and articles on marketing and writing.


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