Hello and welcome to our website! My name is Simon McEwan and I am delighted to be appointed editor of Country Smallholding.

My name is Simon McEwan and I am delighted to be appointed editor of Country Smallholding.

I previously worked closely with Di Cowgill as news editor. She has decided to move on. I really enjoyed working with Di and learned a lot from her. She did much for this magazine in her five years as editor, and we will all miss her. I would like to tell you a bit about myself, my interests in smallholding and environmental issues, and share some thoughts about the magazine. MY BACKGROUND I trained as a journalist and have worked on newspapers for many years, including a stint as features editor at the Reading Evening Post. I joined the magazine department at Archant, publishers of Country Smallholding, in Exeter in 2006. EXPERIENCE IN SMALLHOLDING AND A COMMUNITY CO-OPERATIVE For the past 16 years I have lived at Beech Hill Community, near Crediton in Devon. Beech Hill is run as a community co-operative, and eleven adults, one teenager and two children share a big old manor house with six acres of land. We all have private accommodation at Beech Hill, either leasehold or rented, and share communal space and the grounds. We grow our own veg organically in our walled garden and each ‘adopt a crop’ for the year. We all have full or part-time work outside Beech Hill. We have a directors meeting every week and decide issues by consensus. We share responsibility for managing the site – there is no leader! Our main focus is one of sustainability. Last October we completed a renewable energy project at a cost of £85,000, with £42,000 grant funding. We installed a 12 metre wind turbine, solar panels and a 60kw log boiler. We also have a community compost area, a reed bed sewage system, compost toilets and a waste recycling system, as well as a polytunnel, a paddock and chickens – a lovely flock of Black Rocks. We have strong links with the climate action group in Crediton. It is a very active group, and we hope to make Crediton a Transition Town this year. I feel strongly that local communities must take positive action to become self-sufficient in the face of climate change and dwindling oil supplies. The Transition movement is growing fast, and it is great to be part of such an exciting initiative.

 Our website is www.beechhillcommunity.org.ukSOME THOUGHTS ABOUT THE MAGAZINE Smallholders are in the vanguard of this movement to ‘grow local’ and I hope we can explore these issues at greater depth in the magazine and on the website. There are lots of gaps in my knowledge of smallholding, and I hope we can learn together. We are fortunate to have some very experienced columnists to whom we can turn. A number of readers have said how much they value the practical advice we give in Country Smallholding. Is this your view? I do hope you will send us your comments – it is your magazine, and we want to hear from you. There are also opportunities for you to be part of the magazine by writing for it! I promise to read every article submitted and, of course, we pay for those we use. I hope to get out and about once I have settled in and will be at the Smallholder and Garden Festival in Wales in May. I may see you there! You can contact us at editorial.csh@archant.co.uk Best wishes, Simon

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