The Good Life

The following story is so delightful that I won’t waste much time jabbering about how much I’d love to relocate to the village in the article. An entire village, mind you, just shy of a few residents who don’t “get it”, combining their efforts in order to raise their own healthy food. Enough is enough, of plastic, genetically modified, chemical-laden industrialized food. Knowing the French and British have no love lost between them, I’m sure they’d let me move over there and join right in if I were to mutter, “Darn the French for having invented the industrialized canning process! Let’s show them what real food is about! Hand me a hoe!”

The real Good Life: An entire village turns against supermarkets and grows its own food

Source: This Is London

April 15, 2008

It was a sitcom that inspired many a household to live off the land.

And although it might not attract the likes of Margo and Jerry to move to the area, an entire village is trying its hand at the Good Life.

In a bid to become less dependent on supermarkets, the residents of Martin are working together to become as self-sufficient as possible.

Villagers of Martin, Hants, who have shunned supermarkets to grow their own meat and veg
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The Hampshire village is now home to hundreds of real life versions of the characters played by Felicity Kendall and Richard Briers, who lived off the land in the 1970s BBC comedy.

They work on a rota system and raise their own chickens and pigs and grow potatoes, garlic, onions, chillis and green vegetables on eight acres of rented land.

Of the 164 families who live in Martin, 101 have signed up as members of Future Farms for an annual £2 fee, although the produce can be sold to anyone who wants to buy it.

The “community allotment” sells 45 types of vegetables and 100 chickens a week, and is run by a committee which includes a radiologist, a computer programmer and a former probation officer.

In The Good Life, Tom and Barbara (played by Richard Briers and Felicity Kendal) try to live a self-sufficient lifestyle by converting their garden into allotments

Nick Snelgar, 58, who came up with idea in 2003, said the project was gradually “weaning” villagers off of supermarkets.

He said: “I like to think of it as a large allotment in which there are lots of Barbaras and Toms working away.

“There are also Margos as well, but everyone can get involved.

“The nearest supermarket is six miles away. Of course people still have to go there for things like loo roll and deodorant and fruit you can’t grow in Britain.

“So we aren’t boycotting supermarkets entirely but we are gradually weaning people off them and as a result are reducing our carbon footprint by not using carrier bags and packaging.”

Every Saturday the produce is sold at the village hall
Martin village

The good life: The village of Martin nestles in the Hampshire countryside

Mr Snelgar, a horticulturalist, said the VAT-registered co-operative had grown so much that last year it had a turnover of £27,000 – most of which was ploughed back into the scheme.

He said: “We began with vegetables and we found that all the skills we needed were here in the village.

“After the vegetables we introduced chickens and then pigs and we learned inch by inch.

“We have other producers whose goods we sell and they include a sheep farmer and someone who has honey.

The farm sells 20 pigs a year as well as chickens and lambs and is now starting to sell beef

“It has been a fantastically interesting experience and we now have four plots of land covering eight acres.

“There are 164 families in the village and they include about 300 adults and 100 children, so there are about 400 creatures to feed.’

Every Saturday the community comes together with their produce which is sold at the village hall.

Mr Snelgar added: “The most popular thing we sell is carrots.

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The majority of families have signed up to the scheme, but anyone can buy the produce

“People love the smell of fresh carrots, and we pull them out of the ground the day before we sell them.

“We don’t yet do dairy, but we hope to include that in the future and we also intend to grow raspberries and strawberries.

“We set the prices by working out how much the food costs to produce. We then add 20 per cent.

“Our pork sausages, for example, are sometimes cheaper than sausages you buy in the supermarkets. We break even and all money gets ploughed back in.

“When we started some people thought it would fail and we’d never last, but as the years have gone by more and more people have become involved.

“It is also a talking point in the village and it’s great to see people walking to the village hall on a Saturday morning talking to each other. It has created a sense of belonging.”

One villager said they are not boycotting supermarkets but are weaning people off them

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