Powys farm to show the Good Life and teach people how to keep animals and produce food

Many people dream of moving to a smallholding, keeping a few animals, or producing their own food and a series of new courses on a local farm could help make that dream a reality.

Jonathan and the turkeys
Jonathan and the turkeys

At Argae Cottage, Llandrinio, near Oswestry, smallholders Catriona and Jonathan Benson are ready to welcome visitors to their hands-on courses.

Each course involves spending a day on the smallholding, learning the essentials, including the legal requirements for getting started, what’s involved in looking after various kinds of livestock, and how to sell produce from the smallholding.

Argae Cottage smallholding sells grass-fed beef, lamb, free range pork and Christmas turkeys to a loyal customer base.

Catriona with some of the sheep

Catriona and Jonathan started out 10 years ago, with just four acres, and have created a successful small business. The smallholding now covers 30 acres, and has flocks of Black Welsh Mountain and Lleyn sheep, Shetland Cattle, and Oxford Sandy and Black pigs. The couple are vets, and animal welfare on the smallholding is a high priority.

The idea for the courses came about after running an Open Farm Sunday event last year.

Catriona said “The turn out for Open Farm Sunday was superb – there was so much interest. People were very keen to come and see what running a small farm really involves. We loved having visitors and showing them what we do.

"Several visitors mentioned how much they would like to start their own smallholding, but it’s so difficult to know how to get started.

Some of the pigs

"We realised that there is a demand for in-depth, practical education for beginners, and would-be smallholders. As vets, we have the background in animal health and welfare, as well as the practical experience of having started from scratch ourselves 10 years ago.

"We’re really keen to pass on our knowledge and enthusiasm to others who want to follow their dreams.”

Courses will run on several days during May and June, and will include a home cooked lunch featuring produce from the smallholding.

Full details can be found on the website argaecottage.co.uk.

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