Meet the Author: The Sustainable Smallholders’ Handbook: A Practical Guide to Living off the Land by Lorraine Turnbull

Today we’re traveling to South West France to chat with Lorraine Turnbull. She and I discuss how being a police officer, gardening, the Milky Way, hay, and being single minded come together as part of her past and current life. Pull on your wellingtons, let’s get going …

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m originally from Glasgow in Scotland, but now live in sunny South West France after living in rural North Cornwall for many years running my very small smallholding and making cider.

In which genre do you write?

Well, I’m currently writing my second non-fiction book, but would love to write in another genre; although my head is so stuffed with ideas I don’t know I could narrow it down to just one other genre!  Perhaps there is a rural bonkbuster in me?  Fifty Shades of Hay?

(Lorraine in a beekeeping suit)

List 3 interesting facts about yourself.

Some time ago I was a Police Officer in Strathclyde Police.
I enjoy watching boxing on TV.
I have a morbid fear of wasps.

What do you do when not writing or marketing your books?

I have a beautiful home with two gite rentals here in Dordogne, so I’m often getting them ready for guests.  I love gardening and filling my garden with unusual plants, and I love taking photographs of local landmarks at night with the Milky Way in the sky.

Which of your personality traits has been most useful and why?

I’m quite single minded, and find it impossible to accept being told I can’t do something.  What utter nonsense; of course I can do it!  So I just quietly get on with it, perhaps not in the way I first planned, but I get there.  I think self belief is one of the most positive traits anyone can have and I can often be found wandering round the house muttering ‘I can do it’ under my breath.

What is the most amusing, crazy or inspiring thing that has ever happened to you?

How would I narrow it down to just one thing?  Being told on the police radio to catch the runaway racehorse that’s galloping towards me on a residential street? Pulling on my wellingtons in the morning to find my foot squelching down on the remains of a mouse the cat had deposited into it?  Being hailed loudly in a supermarket by someone who has read my first book – “Are you the chicken woman?”

It was wonderful to meet you Lorraine! I am also quite single minded, so appreciate that you mentioned it. Thanks for being a part of MTA! – Camilla

‘The Sustainable Smallholders’ Handbook’   A Practical Guide to Living off the Land.

Where to Buy:

UK Amazon :<

Connect with Lorraine:


The Sustainable Smallholders Handbook

A practical guide to making and saving money on your smallholding

  • Smallholding and living sustainably continue to be one of the most
    sought after and elusive ways to live and work in the UK.
  • This book is aimed at all those who aspire to live the ‘Good Life’ on a
    smallholding; those who are already living on a struggling
    smallholding; and those budding off-griders and self builders who are
    aiming to live a low impact life in the countryside.
  • A very practical guide with 10 ‘warts and all’ case studies from existing
    smallholders and rural businesses.


1) Size Isn’t Everything

Planning to live the dream; arranging finance and spreading the risk; aiming
for high value; time management.

2) Properties

Buying smallholdings, land with hope value and off-grid living. Agricultural
Occupancy Conditions – what they are, how to live with them and how to lift
them. Soil, location and aspect of properties.

3) Skills and How to Acquire Them

Skills to learn, private, community and college courses, HelpX or Woofer
experience, internet learning.

4) Livestock

Regulations and record keeping, poultry, bees, pigs, sheep, goats, cattle,

5) Food and Drink Production

Eggs; cheese, jams and honey, juice &amp; alcoholic drinks, meat, nuts,
seaweed and other exotics.

6) Orchards

Apples, cider, under-grazing, planting an orchard, mistletoe, tree stock.

7) Teaching

Adult learning, community teaching, private tuition, insurance, lesson
planning and risk assessment.

8) Markets and Marketing

The marketplace, branding, signage, the internet and social media.

9) Diversification and Adding Value

Exploiting land and buildings, holiday letting, crafts, weddings, services, field

10) Self Sufficiency

Adapting existing smallholdings &amp; rural businesses, energy efficiency, water recycling, heating, electricity, off-grid living.

11) The Last Word

Preventing project failure.


About Lorraine:

Lorraine Turnbull has written occasional magazine articles on land based subjects since 2008. This is her first reference book. She ran a smallholding in Cornwall for many years, whilst working as a tutor for the Rural Business School, and latterly ran a craft cider business. In 2014 she was awarded Best Individual in the Cornwall Sustainability Awards.


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