As passionate smallholders and makers, we have learned so much about from-scratch living over the last five years. Through a lot of trial and even more error, we have learned how to forage, care for animals, live close to the land and make the most out of the abundance around us.
This Autumn, we are thrilled to offer our first food-based retreat. Gather with us around our big farmhouse kitchen table and spend time foraging, making, gathering, learning and enjoying each other’s company as you become smallholders for the weekend.
The weekend will start on Friday evening. After settling into your accommodation, we will gather at the farm for an evening of “pick your own pizza” making. With sourdough pizza bases, we will let you loose on the kitchen garden to select your own toppings and make pizza to order, fired on our wood-fired oven.
The rest of the weekend will be spent with a mix of foraging (Kat will show you her super secret chanterelle spots), cooking and eating. Focussing on the things we grow and forage here at Gartur Stitch Farm, we will cover:
AM - Whole Systems Smallholding
We will start the taught portion of the weekend with an in-depth and very hands on discussion of how Gartur Stitch Farm works. From milking the goats and cow, working the sheep, feeding the chickens and nosing around the polytunnel and gardens we will cover not only the HOW of our farm, but also the WHY and the many, many mistakes we’ve made along the way. Permaculture and regenerative farming principles are the foundations of our work, so they will be natural teaching points as we go along. We will also cover the business aspects of running a profitable smallholding and discuss some of the plans for the future.
PM - Hands on Sourdough Bread Workshop:
If we had to pinpoint one skill within our homestead that has transformed our lives the most - sourdough baking. We will cover the basics of sourdough, both making bread as well as using sourdough in a range of cooking. We will start a range of baked goods for meals throughout the weekend, including a favourite of ours - sourdough pasta.
Evening - Smoking
After dinner, we will set up the smokers for an introduction to hot and cold smoking meat, fish and veg. Lead by Callum McNeil-Ritchie, a ranger and smoker extraordinaire, we will cover how to build a smoker out of a whisky barrel, the basics of hot and cold smoking and set up foods to smoke overnight for our meals the next day.
AM - Fermentation
Continuing our microbial adventures, we will use many of the principles we discussed on Saturday to apply to fermenting other foodstuffs. We will talk about brining and dry preserving, salt vs sugar fermentation and using fermentation as a method of preservation. You will have the opportunity to set up a number of jars of veg to ferment as well as taste test some of Kat’s tried and true fermented goods from the farm kitchen.
PM - Canning and Preservation
Continuing on the food preservation front, we will spend the afternoon putting up a range of jams and other shelf stable produce. We will cover safe preservation techniques, including pressure canning, as well as dehydration.
We will spend the last evening on the farm mostly eating the goods we’ve made throughout the weekend. Celebrating the harvest is the best bit of homesteading and this will be one of our harvest meals.
Evening - Mini Intro to Beekeeping
You will also have the opportunity to head to the apiary to perform a bee check and talk about how we use bees on the farm. You can get hands on if you wish - we have lots of bee suits and will have extra help on hand to ensure you can get up close and personal with our bees.
After one last farm breakfast, we will pack up the spoils from the weekend and then head our separate ways. You will be able to take anything you’ve made over the course of the weekend with you to stock your own cupboards.
If you live in the UK and didn’t come via your own transport, we will pack up your goods and ship them out to you via courier.
There will be options for beautiful walks, wild swimming and visits with local food producers.
Whether you dream of having your own smallholding or just want to get out into rural life for a weekend, the skills you learn over our two days together will be invaluable no matter where your kitchen may be.
Included: Accommodation and all meals. Each participant will take away food we have preserved over the weekend.
Transport to the venue not included (but transfers Stirling train station can be arranged).
We are offering a range of housing options for your stay:
- Shared Bunk Room - £400
- Shared Twin Room - £450
- Single Room - £700
If you would like to share a room with someone specific, please let us know at checkout.
We are offering a series of payment plans to make the retreat accessible to everyone who wants to attend. We are asking for an initial deposit of £100 and then you will be invoiced according to the plan you have chosen.