The John Seymour School for Self Sufficiency


Somehow the winter seems to have rushed past - so fast in fact that I have not had time to update this site!     Apologies.

We still have places on the spring courses.     The first course is the Spring course in April - preparing the ground and sowing the seeds ("setting" the garden as they say around here in Northumberland). Please go to the Course Booking page for more information about our courses - the summer course is already fully booked

The garden is pretty well cleared and rotavated over the winter.     The compost has been spread and we are waiting for dry weather to work it into the soil a few weeks before the spring planting begins.     Soon the broccoli sprouts will begin to appear and we look forward to enjoying this early spring bonanza, quickly cooked and eaten as an appetizer with lemon juice, olive oil and soy dressing.    Lovely.  

Beans TrenchReady Compost

Here you can see the trench we dug for the runner bean bed over Christmas - nice job after too much eating!
And on the right is the 12 month old compost heap, ready for spreading after the top and front have been cut away onto next years compost!
And below you see the winter garden (on a beautiful evening) after the compost has been spread.
Winter Garden

Northumbrian A Frame Scythes - for Sale     My campaign to re-introduce the traditional scythe for controlling grassland and weeds has resulted in sale of 5 new scythes this year.    I make these scythes myself, importing blades from Austria.   Slowly more people are realising the advantages (and pleasures) of scything.  I now have 4 lovely new scythes ready for the 2017 season. The two handled scottish or northumbrian scythe is much the best tool for controlling tough weeds like thistle, nettle and (particularly) brambles/tree seedlings.    My new scythes sell for 100 - they are a joy to use and last a lifetime!     Drop me an email if you are interested.

Northumbrian "A" frame scythes for sale
New Scythe 
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.    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 old farmhouse has been lovingly restored 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 more than 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.  

STLCourse LunchStLegerBaskets

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!'