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Making money from smallholding

PUBLISHED: 08:11 28 March 2014 | UPDATED: 08:44 28 March 2014

Charcoal makers Anna and Pete Grugeon from Devon

Charcoal makers Anna and Pete Grugeon from Devon

OCT 17, 2012: In our December 2012 issue we will feature the final part of our series on making money from smallholding. We feature four case studies, which have a common theme: energy and commitment!

Author Simon Dawson, who has a smallholding on Exmoor, says: "We're going to put aside good ideas, best intentions and cunning plans, in favour of putting your back into it."

This is the point where theory becomes practice. The bit where sleeves are rolled up, welly boots pulled on and creative juices redirected from brains to fingertips. This is where we get down and dirty, and in the case of Anna and Pete Grugeon, down and dirty is exactly where it’s at.

Six years ago Anna and Pete had near given up their dream of finding a few acres of their own. The price of small pockets of land had been increasing faster than they could save. Estate agents were gloomy, which is never a good sign.

On a cold Sunday morning they drove out towards Rackenford in Devon. “We were probably chatting about our jobs, Pete was in personnel and I was in retail management, and although we enjoyed what we were doing I think we always knew there was something more out there for us,” Anna says.

“We’d been pretty down because we’d been looking for somewhere for so long, and just couldn’t find anything. Seriously, we were beginning to wonder if it would ever happen for us. Then we drove in through those gates,” she points, “and all that changed.”

They fell instantly in love with the 12 acre woodland. “It was incredible,” Pete adds. “A really exciting time.”

But with the land now secure, the problem had to be broached how they could turn the woods they would call home into a way of life that could generate an income.

“We both came up with the idea together,” Anna says,
“We wanted something that was environmentally friendly, something that would just allow us to tick over financially,” Pete says. “We didn’t want to decimate the beautiful land that we’d just put our life savings into, so it had to be something that would work in sympathy with the woods. The first thing that came to mind was ... charcoal.”

Today their entire income is derived from making charcoal. Read how they did it in our December issue - and how three other smallholders also came up with money-making ideas.
The Dec CS is on sale on Oct 26.

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