Surviving And Thriving On The Land – How to use your time and energy to run a successful smallholding is written by Rebecca Laughton and published by Green Books on recycled paper, using vegetable inks. And the subject matter is as green as the book itself.
The author spent four years on an ‘ecological community’ called Tinker’s Bubble in Somerset, UK and before writing the book she visited other land-based projects in the UK and France. And it really shows. Just by flicking through the book you get a sense of the huge wealth of information and advice on the subject.
And while this encyclopaedic-type approach is the book’s greatest strength, it’s also its weakness. This book isn’t really suitable for the casual reader, while fascinating in parts, it’s more of a ‘how-to’ book and something you would refer to if you were planning on setting up a smallholding and starting to live off the land yourself. So if you approach it like that then I don’t think you’ll find anything with more information on the subject.
You might find a bit of a lighter and easier read as this is written a little like a university essay or thesis, starting with some historical background, theory and explanation of motivation, using human energy to produce goods and so on. As I said, it’s interesting stuff and doesn’t shy away from the fact it’ll be hard work to make a success out of your enterprise.
As Rebecca Laughton has experienced the process herself and visited many other places, the examples she writes about are real – both the successes and failures. This is invaluable to anyone wanting to set up their own enterprise. And it really does go into detail – from planning the farm, building a stove, selling goods, planning, employing people and generally making a success of your smallholding. At more than 300 pages I really don’t think it leaves any subject uncovered.
While text heavy and a bit of a daunting read, there are small pencil drawings and diagrams littered throughout, as well as eight pages of colour photographs in the centre which are quite inspiring. In fact the book very inspiring and if you have the time and the inclination then it’s well worth a read.
Surviving And Thriving On The Land – How to use your time and energy to run a successful smallholding is available from Green Books for £12.95.