Naomi Stannard runs courses at her smallholding in Milverton, Somerset. She and other enterprising smallholders were featured in our December issue by Simon Dawson, who runs courses on Exmoor
Running courses is a recurring theme in making money from your smallholding. Teaching others what you know, sharing information and enthusiasm for the skills you have learned, and leading those around some of the pitfalls and pratfalls that lurk in waiting for those wanting to start out along the same path, is a perfect way to make money. Naomi Stannard, fibre artist and all round creative busy person teaches woolcraft and needle felting on her 10 acre smallholding in Milverton, Somersett, where she lives with her fiancé, Scott Harding, and their 3 children, Phoebe, Chloe and Summer-Rose. “We didn’t really intend to be smallholders,” Naomi explains. “We had a couple of acres with some alpacas and a handful of chickens, but then Scott, who is a builder by trade, was offered a couple of days work in exchange for 5 sheep, and it just took off from there.” Five sheep soon increased, as did the number of alpacas and today they have more than 50 chickens. “I love being creative, and I’m often so desperate to get going that when the sheep and alpacas are sheered I’ll start using the raw fibre straight off their backs!” So do they earn all their income from her art and the smallholding now? “Oh yes… well, most of it anyway. I used to work as an interior designer, so I guess I’ve always had the urge to make beautiful things and I’m really lucky that other people seem to like what I do.” It must be incredibly satisfying. “It is. My life hasn’t always been easy, and in a way that makes me realise even more how lucky I am now, especially since Scott proposed to me earlier this year.” Wall hangings, cushions, flat and three dimensional images of pets and wildlife, many of which are commissioned, are cherished in homes worldwide, to the point that Naomi has become something of a celebrity, appearing with her daughter on TV alongside Kirsty Allsop. “That was such fun,” she says, “and Kirsty is lovely.” Did appearing on TV help to promote her art? “Without a doubt!” So is that important, to get television exposure? Because half the battle with your ambition to make money from your smallholding must be to let others know about what you do? Yet the sad truth is that very few of us are good at coming across well on TV – the brilliant Adam Henson has set that bar way to high on BBC’s Countryfile.