Nick and Bella Ivins were married in 2002 and spent ten years enthusiastically restoring a rundown farmhouse and its surrounding five acres of neglected land into a beautiful and productive model farm. Together, they have experimented and adapted what they have learnt from books and courses to create a simple system of raising ‘just enough’ livestock and fruit and vegetables to happily feed a family of four without having to work the land full time.
Nick and Bella both come from visual arts backgrounds; Bella has a BA in Art History from the University of Warwick and Nick studied art at Canterbury Art College and then went on to study Rural Land Management at the Royal Agricultural College. Perhaps for this reason, the interior and exterior of Walnuts Farm have been given equal importance according to their ethos of ‘feeding the eye as well as the stomach’.
Nick describes the pull of the land on BBC Radio 4’s Four Thought.
In 2014 Nick and Bella’s modern rural approach was featured in Country Living magazine in the series ‘Savour Life at Walnuts Farm’, which followed the food the family grow and eat throughout the year.
Throughout 2015 a second series ‘A Taste of the Good Life’ presented a beginner’s guide to starting a kitchen garden from scratch as well as how to rear sheep, pigs, poultry and bees for those who are enthusiastic but have little practical experience.
In their first book The New Homesteader, Nick and Bella pick up the reins again, and show a simple manageable way of living off the land, with plenty of shortcuts, and a good dose of humour. The good life, along with all the inevitable disasters and mistakes that go with it, doesn’t necessarily have to be the hard life!”
In addition to being the family home, Walnuts Farm was a successful film and photographic location where they regularly hosted fashion, interiors and advertising shoots for clients including L’Oreal, John Lewis, White Stuff, Kew, Rowan, Joules, Great Little Trading Company, Neal’s Yard, Net A Porter, Next, Lombok, Sony, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Gardens Illustrated, Homes and Gardens, and Port magazine.