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Join us down on the farm for a day of swotting up and mucking in, to learn how to start your own smallholding, River Cottage-style.

Fancy living the good life? Designed with rookie smallholders in mind, our one-day course is a brilliant introduction to the skills, equipment and knowledge required to raise classic livestock. Having been farming since 1982 with years of experience in organic farming methods under his belt, River Cottage farm manager Dan Powell makes the perfect guide.

Learn the basics in animal husbandry, put the theories into practice and get hands-on with the pigs and sheep and poultry here at Park Farm. As well as the chance to explore our idyllic surroundings in the heart of the Devon countryside, you’ll be served a local, seasonal lunch and plenty of that famous River Cottage hospitality. Bring your enthusiasm and get stuck in.

  • Smallholder

    Dan was very knowledgeable and you could tell he had a real passion for good animal husbandry. The smallholder course was pitched perfectly to the groups’ knowledge.

    Meagan Attended 29 July 2018

    5.0 out of 5

Your day

09:30 - 17:00

  • Arrive at River Cottage

    You’ll be met at the top of the hill and transported to River Cottage HQ by tractor and trailer.

  • Make yourself at home

    You will meet your host, Dan Powell, and enjoy a morning tea or coffee and tasty River Cottage treats.

  • Session one

    To kick things off, Dan will cover the essentials of smallholding. He’ll teach you how to choose your site, decide which animals are suited to it and navigate the practicalities and legislation involved.

  • Session two

    Next up, a thorough introduction to the livestock at River Cottage, followed by a spot of mythbusting. Ever wondered what ‘organic’ and ‘free-range’ really mean?

  • Session three

    You’ll turn to focus on poultry, the smallholder's first choice. Dan will share his wisdom on rearing poultry for eggs and meat, including breeds, feeding, housing requirements and keeping foxes at bay.

  • Lunch

    Food is always the focus at River Cottage, and you’ll tuck into a delicious lunch, prepared by our chefs using produce from the farm.

  • Session three

    The next lesson will be on pigs, the smallholder's best friend. You’ll learn about breeding and growing pigs, different breeds, health issues, housing, feeding, handling and transportation.

  • Session four

    You’ll finish the day with sheep, the gentle companion to the pig. You’ll learn all about breeds and breeding, lambing, housing and feeding, keeping sheep healthy and how to choose when lambs are ready for slaughter.

  • Departure

    There will be time to chat to your fellow scholars and the River Cottage team, before being whisked back up the hill by our tractor and trailer – hopefully bursting with ideas for your own smallholding adventure.

Please note: This is a guide to the activities that will make up your course at River Cottage. This is by no means set in stone and will depend on seasonal availability.

On occasion cookery schools will use equipment that includes induction hobs. It is recommended that people with pace makers should not work on these units. If you are concerned or would like to check whether or not induction hobs will be used on the course you are interested in, please call us on 01297 630302.

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Further information...

This course is run from River Cottage HQ on the Dorset/Devon borders. Full address details of HQ will be provided once you have booked.

We are a licensed venue. We have a wide selection of the finest organic wines available to purchase.

If you need local accommodation we have a full list available.

We would advise that this course is only really suitable for 12 years of age and upwards. Under 16s must be accompanied by an adult. We put these guidelines in place for the safety, comfort and enjoyment of all our guests.

  • Sustainable Restaurant Association
  • Food and Travel Magazine 2017
  • Great British Food Awards 2017
  • Visit Devon Tourism Awards 2015 Gold