The Good Life: smallholding in Kent

PUBLISHED: 14:49 09 June 2013 | UPDATED: 14:38 11 June 2013

Sam Deeson at The Bunker, near Canterbury

Sam Deeson at The Bunker, near Canterbury

Manu Palomeque

Some people aren’t content with growing the odd bit of fruit or veg, they want to produce food on a much grander scale. Meet the smallholders

The Bunker

Sam Deeson

There’s local food, then there’s really local food. Sam Deeson, owner of Deesons restaurant in Canterbury, has hit upon the novel idea of using a smallholding to provide much of the produce for his restaurant.

“I’ve always been a big supporter of local food and so for me this was the obvious next step. You can’t get more local than sourcing your menu from a local smallholding,” he says.

When he first took it over, the site had been fallow for around 20 years. But Sam had a vision and the determination to make that vision a reality.

“It took plenty of hard work but eventually we got there. What we have today is a smallholding that produces a wide variety of veg, and which also contains some pigs and poultry for the restaurant too.

We’ve even got our own bees,” he says. “It’s been a challenging but ultimately rewarding experience.”

But the hard-work hasn’t ended with Sam’s transformation of his smallholding. Maintenance of his vision is a daily job.

“I’m typically up at the site before the sun comes up, feeding my collection of very noisy pigs and picking what vegetables I’m going to take up to the restaurant that day.

“I pretty much then divide my time between the smallholding and the restaurant, very rarely getting much of a break. Very recently I had to go down there when I was ill because that’s the nature of the work. The demands of a smallholding are blind to whether you’re ill or not.”

Despite the hard work, Sam feels that this way of running his business has been the right path to take.

“From the restaurant’s perspective we offer diners something unique; truly locally produced food.

“We also strictly adhere to the seasons, which is not something many restaurants can boast.

“I have a highly talented group of chefs who are creative enough to constantly produce great food from what’s in season, which is something we are all very proud of.

“And then, from a personal perspective, I love the fact that I get away from everything and lose myself in the countryside.

“I grew up on a farm and so it’s wonderful that I am getting to immerse myself in the rural environment once again.”

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