Book review: 21st Century Smallholder

21st Century Smallholder

From window boxes to allotments: how to go back to the land without leaving home

by Paul Waddington

This is a great little book which starts off by acknowledging that the dream of ‘four acres and freedom’ will now be impossible for many people.’Today, only the rich can afford to be peasants.’

The book includes sections on growing your own food; raising your own food – bees, chickens, pigs, ducks, fish and other livestock; getting the most from your home harvest; building biodiversity; making your home

more self reliant and ‘going all the way’. There’s also a year planner, setting out sowing, planting and harvesting tips for each month.Paul Waddington considers the pros and cons of each option within these sections and then sets the various possibilities out in table form for easy comparison. Compare installing photovoltaic panels with putting a wind turbine on your roof in terms of cost/hassle, payback time and ‘green’ value. Or compare meat curing with air-drying or cold-smoking, in terms of time, space, skill and kit required. Everything is boiled down for easy ‘at a glance’ decision making.

He also includes information on how to make your own compost, provide habitats for various types of wildlife within your outside space, pond building, as well as energy saving techniques from a bit of simple draught stripping, to installing ground-source heat pumps.

The book tackles some advanced concepts in an accessible format. It is beautifully illustrated with prints by Gillian Blease, published by Eden Project Books and is of course made from wood grown in sustainable forests.