IT IS The Good Life dream that turned sour. Just months after landing a job as the “food champion” of the London mayor Boris Johnson, Rosie Boycott has had to wind up her organic farm after it failed to make a profit.
The demise of the smallholding, set over eight acres in Somerset, left Boycott, a former editor of the Daily Express, and her husband £200,000 out of pocket and has resulted in the couple falling out with their former farm manager.
How in buggery do you lose £200,000 on renting only 8 acres for 4 years?
To smooth their way, the couple recruited David Bellew to manage the farm.
Ah, well, that\’s a start then. Hire someone to live that Good Life for you. You know, don\’t actually do any of the digging, mucking out or slaughtering yourself. Hire someone else to do it as you play Lady Muck.
I\’m sure others will have tried to explain this at times but here it is again. It\’s bloody difficult to make a living off 8 acres. It\’s appallingly difficult, if not impossible (unless you\’re going to be growing pot or something, maybe luck out and the pony breeds another Red Rum) to make a modern British living off 8 acres. You\’re just not going to be able to produce £20,000 to £25,000 of added value to equal the median income in the country. Not off 8 acres of farmland (again, there are provisos: 8 acres of Mayfair with planning permission would do nicely).
And you\’re certainly not going to get anywhere if you hire a full time manager who needs to be paid that sum or more himself before you see any of the profits.
In the end it\’s really very simple: you cannot make a solid living running a smallholding in this country. You can have a hobby, you can grow some of your own food, but you simply cannot sustain a modern lifestyle from that sort of land area.
Yes, I know, medieval peasants did and yes, farming has become more productive since then. But off 8 acres you\’ll only be able to live like a slightly more productive medieval peasant, that\’s it.