'A Handful of Earth'  

This film grew out of my experiences as a smallholder who wanted to farm organically. I used to be registered with the Soil Association. It had been my dream for many years when I lived in cities. So when I got the chance I became an organic grower. I still am but without the certification so technically I can't call myself that.

Anyway I am smallholder. We have sheep to manage a nature reserve. We keep Kunikuni pigs as pets. They do graze and now manage a difficult piece of land for us, although it has taken three years for them to grow up and stop digging.  We also have a few hens. A much smaller enterprise than we began with but it is hard to cope with the depradations of the fox. Meanwhile I grow tomatoes, salad vegetables and flowers for sale. We have 10 acres of poor sandy land on the coast. This has taught me a lot about not trying to get too much from the land - about accepting its limitations and working with them and about accepting the rabbits and the red deer.  As a result I have a much deeper understanding of how we have to fit in the ecosystem. As regards  the soil I tend to study it wherever I go.

But this is miles from the film well sort of. 

This film grew out of trying to explain why people have smallholdings. Why spend every spare moment on the land. I have heard people describe smallholding as a hobby.  My definition of a hobby is  going skiing.  Smallholding is a passion where art and science come together. So this led me into thinking about how smallholdings came about. It made me think about enclosures. It took me on a long intriguing journey.

I am member of the Suffolk Smallholders Society which is how I made contact with two of the participants in this film so a word of thanks goes to them. You can find out more about SSS at  http://www.suffolksmallholders.co.uk