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Alan Beat, Self-Sufficient Smallholder in the UK

Name: Alan BeatAlan Beat

Occupation: Smallholder (homesteader)

Place of Residence: Devon, United Kingdom

Background and Personal History: Alan trained as a mechanical engineer and worked in that profession for 20 years. Then in 1987, after 4 years of planning, he made a deliberate change of lifestyle, moving to a 16-acre smallholding (homestead) with his wife Rosie and two young children. The aim was to produce their own organic food, to become more self-sufficient in other ways, and to tread more lightly on the earth. They began a steep learning curve that continues to the present day.

Alan has written a regular monthly feature in Country Smallholding magazine for the last 25 years and has contributed to a number of other UK publications on a freelance basis. He has restored an historic water mill to working order, and now grinds locally grown organic wheat for demonstration and to feed his family. Rosie is an experienced hand spinner, felt maker and natural dyer, and they have both led numerous training courses in many aspects of self-sufficiency.

The smallholding, gardens and water mill are open to the public several times each year and educational visits have developed into a central part of their activities, with 74 schools visiting in the academic year 2013-2014.

In 2008, Aland and Rosie were highly commended finalists in the UK Future of Farming awards "for exemplary management of wildlife, landscape and access.”

Alan’s first book, A Start in Smallholding, was published in 2004; and his second, Smallholding: A Practical Guide to Self-sufficient Living, in 2015 (U.S. link, U.K. link).

Current Projects: Alan is working with Devon Wildlife Trust to harrow existing pasture and spread wildflower seed harvested locally to increase the range of species present. He is managing ancient hedges by traditional laying and planting woodland by coppicing. He is also rebuilding a derelict stone barn with slate roof and a single-room extension to the home

More Places to Find Alan on the Web:

The Bridge Mill Website

Video of water mill grinding

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