Maryline, from Rural and Rustic veg, lives on a smallholding in a beautiful and breezy spot in the hills between Abermule and Berriew, with her husband Peter, who works as an engineer in Newtown. Prior to moving to Wales, Maryline ran her own counselling practice at the centre of which was people’s mental and emotional health and well-being; she now hosts guests for both holidays and well-being retreats in the shepherd’s hut on their smallholding. A simpler, closer to nature lifestyle had been on Maryline and Peter’s minds for some years and when their children began to fly the nest, they took the opportunity to make it a reality for themselves whilst they still felt fit and healthy enough to give it a go. Their smallholding, with a wind turbine, solar panels, vegetable beds, polytunnel, greenhouse, a soft fruit garden and an orchard makes it the ideal place to practice their more self-reliant, low-impact lifestyle.
Growing food is a huge aspect of Maryline’s life and she grows a large amount of all the fruit and vegetables they eat. Last year, she added a large polytunnel to enable her to extend the growing season up in the Welsh hills and to gain extra space to grow commercially. She produces a wide range of fruit and vegetables, all grown naturally without artificial chemicals and practices the ‘No Dig’ method of gardening that nourishes the soil with peat-free or homemade compost mulches without disturbing vitally important soil life and structure.
The local food economy is equally important to Maryline, who values the contribution made by small, independent, local businesses and she strives to support them and get involved.; in 2019 she and three other local growers were involved in setting up a veg box scheme in Newtown. The Covid19 pandemic and lockdown prompted Maryline to increase her growing in order to be able to have surplus that she could make available to others. She supplied plants and produce through Shed38 and its delivery round during lockdown and now, as a Taste Montgomery member, she sells her produce at Montgomery markets through the Taste Montgomery initiative. She sells tailor-made veg boxes too; and doing so on a very small scale enables her to accommodate customers' needs and preferences, which helps reduce waste. She also has an honesty stall on her smallholding where customers can order fresh produce and pick it up from there safely, with zero-contact. Her seasonal bags of mixed salad leaves, with herbs and edible flowers, are her most popular items and sell out at market.
Rural and Rustic shepherd's hut is situated in its own field with beautiful views across the rolling hills of Mid-Wales and Shropshire. It is popular with guests who want to leave behind their busy and complicated modern life and return to basics, close to nature and all it has to offer for a restorative and memorable countryside break. Maryline and Peter have created an off-grid and simple yet quirky and cosy hideaway with plenty of rustic charm and a touch of luxury. The site has gained a Gold Award from Green Tourism as an acknowledgment of their green credentials.
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