13 November 1998

Farm venture that didnt work out

SIMPLE and healthy living, close to nature on a smallholding, seems idyllic looking in from the outside.

Unfortunately, those who get involved can soon have their eyes opened and pockets lightened by unforeseen setbacks including plant and animal diseases, intractable and infertile stock, predators and adverse weather conditions.

Computer scientist Graham Irwin and his partner Rosemarie, a farmers daughter, tried hard to succeed on a Bedfordshire smallholding. Fortunately, Graham did not give up his day job. After 10 years of toil and learning the hard way they gave up the struggle.

An experience which ended up with both partners "failing to communicate" and going their separate ways, is described in detail.

Skilled farming folk now struggling to balance the budget on a much larger scale could have predicted the outcome.

A touching tale nevertheless and one that deserves wider circulation than this book will probably achieve.

It explodes the urban misconception of an easy, subsidised rural lifestyle more effectively and to a much wider audience, than long-established farmers trying to convince unbelieving townsfolk of their present plight. HPH

*A Farm of Our Own, by Graham Irwin, Cityscape Books, PO Box 16554, London SE1 5ZS (£9.95).