The John Seymour School for Self Sufficiency

Our June courses are now finished - and a good time was had by all!

New Autumn Course arranged for 4 October - see below
Blessed with wonderful sunny weather, the students had a busy time in the kitchen and in the garden.      Once again we found time to take walks to visit Dunstanburgh Castle, Alnwick Castle and Bamburgh (with freshly baked pies on the beach).     Here are pictures of the students at work on the compost heap and starting to build a stone wall.
Students CompostStudents Wall
Additional Course on 4 October
    There is now an autumn course scheduled for October.    One place is still available - as at 20 August.      For more information click here.

Summer Garden
After a late start the garden is now in full swing - masses of peas, beans, beetroot, carrot, salad, parsnips, tomatoes.    We are harvesting every other day and piling our produce into the deep freeze.
Christon Bank August
Northumbrian A frame scythes for sale
All the scythes I made last month have now been sold - hurrah, the new quiet age of grass and weed management has arrived.  I have  orders for more so please get in touch if you are interested!   The short blade and strong snaith make these scythes ideal for tougher materials like brambles and seedling trees.)
New Scythe 

The greenhouse is now in action
We now have dozens of young sprouting broccoli seedlings, 3 big boxes of newly pricked out basil and 9 rampant cherry tomatoe plants.      The 2 new rods on the vine have now reached the roof and the little bunch of grapes is ripening!  
August Greenhouse
The Renovation Story

  In 2014 our courses moved to the beautiful coast of north Northumberland where we have begun the renovation of a fine old Victorian kitchen garden at Christon Bank.    The renovation work provides an unusual opportunity for our students to be involved in the development of the garden infrastructure and planning.     It's many years since the garden was in full use but the site is lucky enough to have a massively high brick wall along its east and north sides.    The wall was built from the dutch bricks which were used as ballast by coal ships from Newcastle in the nineteenth century.  

The Christon Bank farmhouse has been lovingly restored by the Gilbert family and now includes a pond and wildflower meadow.

The wildflower meadow

The kitchen garden lies on the north side (to the left of the picture).     The soil is a heavy well drained loam with few nasty weeds - no creeping buttercup or couch, just a few nettles.    The biggest challenge was digging out a few very old tree stumps whose roots have gone under the walls.   You can see the massive (recently re-pointed) south facing wall which will give the garden such a beneficial micro-climate.  

The School

Will Sutherland has run self-sufficiency courses for almost 20 years, teaching the methods and philosophy developed by John Seymour.     Will worked for over 10 years with John Seymour in Ireland and, with John, created the New Complete Book of Self Sufficiency published by Dorling Kindersley.   In 2010 we took our courses to the wine growing region near Bordeaux where the warm weather, swimming pool and excellent local wine made a nice change from the cooler climes of Ireland.    Now we are moving back to cooler climes to take up the challenge of re-creating a classic old kitchen garden.  

What our students said:

“Thank you so much: we really enjoyed the course and found it VERY interesting and helpful. And what a beautiful place in which to do it”

“Thank you for a wonderful holiday. The food has been amazing and we have really enjoyed the Class. You have a beautiful place here.”

Such great people. Such strong spirits. Great to know you guys!'

“The training and experience at St Leger was the best birthday present I could have had. Your book and your work have opened up for us a better way to enjoy life in harmony with the land and nature.”

Lots of Good Food - The students who came last year were mightily impressed with the St Leger meals they enjoyed and suggested we put the week's menu up on the website.      Good food and good conversation are important features for all those looking for a more self-sufficient and satisfying style of life!

Vegetarian options are provided.    Meals are served with home made beer including ginger beer!