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about A Little Piece of England

A Little Piece of England

A Tale of Self-Sufficiency

A Little Piece of England is an amusing account of how John Jackson, with his wife and three children, built up a smallholding in a sliver of countryside in rural Kent, and by trial and much error, came to make themselves self-sufficient in meat, milk, eggs, vegetables and some fruit, while learning various country crafts ‘in their spare time.’

John was born in Devon in 1929 and grew up in Lyme Regis in Dorset. The family were ‘flat broke’ and lived on what they could grow or forage and ‘if the tide was right, what we could get out of the sea. By the time I was four,’ he said ‘I knew about the land. I knew how to use it. We had had an early lesson in how to look after ourselves.’

Later John wanted some of the experience of his own early years to be passed on to his children. In 1965, at the height of his corporate career in the City, the family moved from London to Underriver, south east of Sevenoaks, where they started out innocently enough with a few chickens. Before long they had assembled a cast of memorable characters - bullocks, cows, horses, sheep, goats, and geese - as well as a few four-legged freeloaders, largely kept on land borrowed from neighbours on a ‘barter’ basis.

This entertaining tale is brought to life by John’s vivid voice and by Val Biro’s charming pen and ink illustrations of the farm and animals done in the great tradition of English wood engravers like Bewick and Bickham. A Little Piece of England was originally published as A Bucket of Nuts and a Herring Net: The Birth of a Spare Time Farm by the Collins-Harvill Press in 1979.

A Little Piece of England is available hardback, iBook and Kindle versions.


"Not just very readable, but compelling" - The Bookbag

"In amiable anecdotal mode, Jackson is as warmly devoted to his family as he is to the livestock and the land that sustains it" - The Times

"Wise, grounded and unusually happy" - Daily Mail

"An easy, entertaining, and strangely compulsive read" - Farming Monthly