Last year, we bought a beautiful but derelict, unloved vineyard and small holding on the rural foothills of Dartmoor in Devon with the aim of restoring it to its former glory and productivity. The vineyard itself is only 2 acres but we would eventually like to double this. We have another 5 acres on top of this which we are in the process of taming to start a small lettuce and herb growing business. It has taken a whole year and a huge amount of effort and money for us to do all the basic things like renovating the park home, building polytunnels and reclaiming the vineyard from trees, nettles, brambles and deer to get to where we are now.
Luckily, we have received a huge amount of help from young adults who have ventured from all corners of the world wanting to learn English and discover an alternatve way of life and thanks to their dedicated hard work- we are now ready to start on some of the more fun projects.
The first of which is to purchase some baby geese to help mow the grass between the vines as it has already started to come back with a vengeance! As geese don't like broad leaf plants, they are ideally suited for life in a vineyard. They will live the very good life- free range and organic, also providing us with delicious goose eggs to kick start our small market garden business.
We have already converted a stable within our barn to make it a fox proof home for the goslings which we will buy at 4 weeks old so that they are ready to go straight out onto the grass. In an ideal world, we would hatch our own eggs but due to a lack of safe electricity in the barn, this is not an option this year! To start our flock we would like 6-10 female goslings but depending on how much money we can raise, we will hopefully be able to increase this- there is enough grass for a small army of them!
UPDATE: Due to the amazing response (thank you) we have had, there is enough money to buy all of the geese that we wanted. Next on the list is a huge chicken enclosure so that we can raise our own chooks for their eggs and eventually meat. We have a 1 acre woodland which needs fencing with 6 foot high chicken wire to keep Mr Fox out. Then we will invest into another 3 chickens to add to our already 3 strong egg laying army, and at least 10 chickens and a cockeril to breed from and raise our own food.
So although you cannot select the reward on the right- if you donate £20 then we will assume that you want to name a chicken (WE ARE ONLY NAMING OUR 3 FEMALE EGG LAYERS AS WE WILL EAT THE MEAT CHOOKS). There are only 3 rewards available for the chook naming. If you donate £5 or £10 without selecting the geese reward- we will assume that you want all of the same benefits but catered to the chickens and not the geese.
If you donate £50 but do not select the geese reward- we will assume that you want to name the cockeril and receive all of the same benefits of the geese reward.
This is a big ask for everyone, especially when like us, most people are struggling to make ends meet but we would really appreciate your help and we are very excited about becoming geese owners! Please see the rewards section for our way of saying thank you to all sponsors. We look forward to meeting you and your families- bring your wellies and your imagination (as we are still in the early stages of transformation) and don't forget your camera to capture those beautiful views. If you like bird watching you must bring your binoculars too and enjoy the wildlife which has made its home in our garden.
About the project owner
Jamie and I met in Mexico 6 years ago and it was love at first sight- Mexico that is! We spent a very happy 4 months living and volunteering on a Caribbean beach with no water or electricity along with a handful of other similarly crazy people to help raise awareness of the impact of tourism in Cancun on the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef. After the project ended, we embarked on the adventure of a lifetime which took us across almost every continent in the world on and off for 4 years. We travelled, worked,studied and had a fantastic time. Eventually we decided it was time to return home and catch up with old friends. We married in 2011 and rather than buy into the rat race, decided to live an alternative lifestyle where we could be more self sufficient and have more time to spend with each other. Admittedly we were not looking for a vineyard but stumbled across ours and along with my Mum Elaine fell in love with it and its magical setting and decided to make a go of starting a business here and living a more basic but honest life.
That was April 2012 and we have since spent a crazy 12 months renovating a caravan, digging ditches, holes and beds for veggies, building polytunnels and completely gutting the vineyard of its' 300 trees, millions of nettles and brambles and enough grass to feed the small herd of deer that we found living in it! The "to do" list is ever growing but now that the foundations have been set, it is going to be an exciting year of new animals, plants and hopefully a reward of a bumper crop of grapes at the end of the year.