11:49 15 June 2012
Waking up in beautiful countryside, pulling on wellies to collect still-warm eggs from the chickens by the back door, tasting the honey made at the bottom of the garden: welcome to The Good Life.
Its the dream for many people but would the reality be more of a nightmare? After all, a closer look at the workings of smallholdings will reveal the dirt, the smells, the incessant labour and the difficulties and heartbreak nature will invariably produce.
But this does not seem to put off the vast numbers of people seeking to escape the rat race and live out their countryside dream. And, if they cant have it all, they might opt for a few chickens, a rented allotment or turn their rooftop city living in to a small corner of growth. Everywhere you look, people are growing their own.
It is all part of the goal to be self-sufficient and the yearning for the simplicity of life. There was a time not long ago when people wanted to have it all done for them, so why did this back-to-nature approach start to become so fashionable?
Louisa Davies has become more self sufficient over the years and her aim now is to have a smallholding. We have a few chickens, ducks and 40,000 bees but I am far from finished, she said.
I would love to rear my own animals and be completely self-sufficient. I think it all comes down, for me, to knowing where everything has come from. Im not there yet but I do have eggs and honey and I would likea dairy cow.
Louisa says that seeing life from its beginning to its end is an exciting and fruitful experience. There is something so amazing about seeing life at the source. When I dip in to the honeypot, I know how much graft has gone in to its content.
Mike Rogers has rented an allotment for the past two years and says it brings a breath of fresh air to his life.
He started out with pots of herbs on the kitchen windowsill and potatoes in a tub in the back garden. He now grows pumpkins, courgettes, more potatoes, carrots and onions.
There is something spiritual about tending to your own produce and caring for it through its life, he said. You are literally nurturing your food from its seed to when you pick it or dig it up.
My own attempts have so far been confined to the pots I can stuff in the greenhouse but I think that it might be time to branch out in to the next stage, as soon as I have a bigger garden.
The Smallholder of the Year competition, run byCountry Smallholding magazine, attracted entriesfrom across the UK.
In the junior section of the 2010 competition,Sarah Whitely, from Nidderdale, made it to thefinal and finished in second place for the way shecares for livestock on her parents farm.
The compere, James Strawbridge, paid tributeto the 14-year-old, saying her entry wasinspirational to all children out there who wantto aspire to this way of life.