If you would like to visit, look around or have a chat about anything from building to veg growing to low impact living


Lots of events happening all the time – find out more


We rely on volunteers from all over the world to make things happen here on the farm.Would you like to come along?

Lackan Cottage Farm is a permaculture smallholding near the beautiful Mourne Mountains in Co. Down. We live as lightly as possible on the land and offer the opportunity for visitors from all over the world to volunteer and learn with us.

We want to demonstrate how a low impact lifestyle can be a practical reality, meeting our own needs for food, energy, waste and water from the land around us. Sharing our experiences with others is important to us, and as well as offering practical courses, we welcome volunteers from all over the world to help with everything from horticulture to green buildings.

As part of a wish to live more simply, reduce our environmental impact, and as a reaction to the threat of a changing climate, and over reliance on fossil fuels, we are establishing an off grid smallholding using permaculture and organic principles. Our aim is to be able to provide working, practical solutions that people can learn about, and take away to use in their own lives.

Ecological footprinting

Ecological footprint analysis compares human demands on nature with the biosphere’s ability to regenerate resources and provide services. We are continuously working to lower ours to a truly sustainable level.

  • Average UK ecological footprint – 5.45 global hectares
  • Our ecological footprint – 2.8 global hectares
  • Target Ecological footprint – 1.5 global hectares

Latest News from the farm

Wind turbine first proper test

The windy weather we normally get in October didn’t put in an appearance, but finally it is here, and today’s weather perfectly illustrates the need for a mixture of generation to keep the lights on all winter. At 10m on an overcast day the PV is producing next to nothing – fortunately the turbine is making up for it… which is producing enough power to bring the batteries back up, and feed surplus to the heating dumps and allow a couple of loads of washing to get done. Though the turbine is rated at 3000w, it is comfortably producing its peak of 3400w, and then furling to take it out of the wind....

Autumn abundance

When we started growing food here, we weren’t sure what would thrive, and so I continue to be amazed and grateful when I walk down into the gardens and find an abundance of food growing, now, in November. Strawberries – not only the traditional ones but alpines too – and sweet peppers, Lyra’s favourite forage. The tunnel may look a little bare at first glance, but kale is already poking through the soil, salads are thriving, and all manner of herbs are still doing well. Outside, sprouts, broccoli and cauliflower are all thriving. and we are about to get stuck into the turnip crop. Autumn raspberries have also arrived, and are a welcome treat on dull days – Its not just the veg that continues to surprise us – a last brood of chicks, now four days old are running around the place with their fierce mother. and our older hens are enjoying the compost heap as much as...

Preparing for winter

In our world turned upside down by changing climate, we began the year with a cold, wet ‘summer’, and have ended it with a warm sunny autumn. Strolling around in a t-shirt in November is definitely not normal here in Northern Ireland, but we (and our tomatoes – they are still growing) aren’t complaining. After all the excitement of the summer, we’ve taken the time to prepare for winter, should it eventually arrive, by drying, bottling, pickling and freezing all the produce we possibly can. This as I’ve mentioned before is definitely the hard part of smallholding – not only persuading food to continue to grow into the cold months, but to preserve some to see us through the winter and early spring. One of our themes for this year was ‘winterising’ the cottage – replacing the old, draughty single glazing with new double glazed units.  A big investment for us, but now all the external windows are properly fitting, double glazed units, and our doors have seals around them.  Don’t underestimate how cold draughts can make a building feel. It can be as well insulated as you like, but if you have wind blowing through it somewhere, the heat isn’t going to hang around long. We’re now utilising spare energy from the new wind turbine to heat the place (and reduce our wood fuel consumption);and other improvements include tweaking the solar hot water, and changing our old radiators. We fixed up a covered drying area with a clear roof too, so that washing can be hung out in any weather.  The focus has been  very much on looking...

An epic climate journey

Today we were inspired to meet Morgan and Garrett, who are undertaking an epic journey from New England to Paris, via Canada, Iceland, Scandanavia, and the UK by bicycle. Their destination? The COP21 Climate Change Conference in Paris in December. Along the way they have been talking to all manner of people who are working towards mitigating or dealing with the effects of climate change.   They are writing about, photographing and filming their experiences, and on arrival at COP21 will be youth delegates at the conference. Read more about their travels at or follow them on facebook at

Energy independence

For those who can’t already claim some form of payment for generating their own energy, or who will face vastly reduced incentives from 2016, there would seem to be few reasons to invest in renewable energy such as solar PV.  Recent coverage of the Tesla home energy storage system has interested many, but a lot of people don’t seem to realise that this is something that you can do now. If you already have solar pv, and sell your surplus to the grid, and like many people have a day job, you are selling power to the utility company at a low price all day, and then returning home, and buying it back at a higher price.  This is madness. Even a relatively modest battery set will allow you to store energy generated during the day, and then use it when it is needed, selling only genuine surplus back to the grid. Even then there are ways to use that surplus to heat water or space, and save on fuel bills. You may not be self sufficient in energy (although with careful use, you might), but you’ll certainly buy less power from the grid. Yes there is a capital cost in the batteries, but as the price of electricity rises inexorably (it has nearly doubled in 8 years), that investment is going to look increasingly attractive. If you already claim ROCs or FITs the alterations need not affect your certification, and if grid connections aren’t available for your renewable installation you can still run a system that allows you to store and use power, with the grid as a...

Are you a Good Worker?

Well, here we are again. I’d love to regail you with tales of how our veg are coming on (fine, by the way), but I’ve spent the last couple of weeks being fascinated and horrified by our political masters. This isn’t supposed to be a political blog, but when those currently at the helm are proposing to steer a course so completely at odds with everything we believe in, what choice do I have? The election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour party seems to have given the Tories a nudge towards the far right. This week I’ve listened as people claiming tax credits are accused of having no dignity; how benefits should be withdrawn from the elderly “because they probably won’t be around to vote next time”; how young people aren’t productive enough; how immigrants are stealing jobs from ‘honest British’  workers. How removing benefits will teach workers how to be ‘as productive as the Chinese’. Despite having spent tens of billions of pounds to prop up the banking sector, we are all told daily – “you must work harder, longer, be more productive”, to justify the right to what? To live? To have a decent standard of life? Failure to comply will result in the removal of that right. The poor, the elderly, the sick, and the unlucky are being weeded out, in a macabre survival of the financial fittest. Neo conservatism at its ugly best. So? You may be wondering.  The point here is that we are being urged to work from cradle to grave, longer, harder and more productively in order to make...
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Trees Planted

kwh electricity generated

Rescue animals rehomed

Volunteers welcomed

Visitors – We are always happy to welcome visitors as long as you contact us in advance. Much as we love dogs, we ask that you leave them at home as we have free ranging animals and children around the farm. Smoking is not permitted anywhere here.

Contact us at – Lackan Cottage Farm, 79 Lackan Road, Ballyroney, Co.Down. BT32 5HR. Northern Ireland

You can email us – lackancottage [at] or use the contact form

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