My House: Gardener and cook Sophie Lane on how she built her own farm overlooking the Black Mountains

 
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Sophie Lane, founder of A Little Bit, in her kitchen

"When we moved out of London three years ago, we were looking for three things: space, peace and a good view. We knew the search would be difficult, not only because we’re a growing family but because of our ever increasing collection of animals. We have quite a large menagerie that need a decent sized patch of land to roam around on.

We spent a lot of time looking but couldn’t find a house that was in the right area and met our demands. So, since both my husband and I have some building experience, we bought a plot of land on the border of Shropshire and Worcestershire and built the house ourselves. It was ideal. We got the space we wanted with the light we wanted and, as a bonus, views looking out across the Black Mountains over into Wales. It’s a great way to work – when you’re doing everything yourselves you get to pick and choose exactly the elements you want.

Since we now have so much space, I’ve started breeding kunekune pigs. They’re a New Zealand breed, and smaller than your average domestic British pig, but have been in this country for quite a long time. They’re extremely gentle in nature which makes them great pets. They also make good sausages too, which ties into my business. I make dressings, sauces and dips, making the most of herbs and vegetables from our garden.

Not all the hard-work happens outside. We have a great kitchen with a huge dining table that lets the entire family get involved without making the room feel overly cramped or busy. I like to have a lot of open space in a house. When building it we made sure there were lots of windows to create a bright and airy space. It keeps the house warm as well, almost too warm at times. I didn’t factor this into the build, but I don’t mind. The warmth provides good growing conditions for my plants.

I’m lucky to have a kitchen this large, but it’s not essential to what I do. The size of the room doesn’t matter as long as you have equipment that you use and love. Herbs and plants can grow on the smallest windowsill, they just need a little bit of attention, a small amount of water every morning and some light. You can keep them easily in your kitchen, and as long as you give them some love it doesn’t matter how big the space is.

Sophie Lane is the founder of A Little Bit. You can find her range of dressings and sauces at alittlebit.co.uk

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