Our Green Story:
Living the ‘Good Life’ at The Lint Mill

06 June 2024

We are Deborah and Colin, owners at The Lint Mill, an award-winning B&B in the heart of Scotland’s Southern Uplands. We settled in this secluded, rural place in 2009 after 15 years of busy city lives and we had ambitious aims – to lead a simpler life, to be self-sufficient, organic and sustainable. But believe us, we’re no Tom and Barbara and those who know Deborah, will know she’s often fighting off her inner Margo!

Nonetheless, the idea of a sustainable way of life was always a compelling one for us and this is our ‘green story’, how we came to run a highly successful B&B and offer a series of very popular smallholding courses to inspire and educate others.


Deborah with two adorable new arrivals


The beginnings
We came to Scotland in 1995 staying in Glasgow’s fashionable West End. ‘Green’ living has always made sense to us; it’s hard to remember precisely when it became second nature. As city dwellers, we cared passionately about how the way we lived impacted our environment, from the things we bought to the things we ate. Over time, our lifestyle moved further away from the usual pleasures of urban living. We took holidays in remote parts of Scotland and we spent our weekends growing organic vegetables at our long-anticipated allotment (we had only been on the waiting list for seven years!). In 2009, we sensed that our days in the wonderful city of Glasgow, which we had so enjoyed, were coming to an end.

When we moved to our ‘dream home’ with land, we knew we had the amazing opportunity to rear our own rare breed livestock and grow our own heritage variety vegetables, so we would know exactly what was going into our food as well as contributing to maintaining the rich diversity of species in British farming. We wanted to share this special place and its produce with others and so our B&B was created first.


Colin shares his expertise


Sharing our way of life
We have a great combination of skills between us. Colin is the baker, chef, grower of fruit, vegetables and flowers, and leads on animal husbandry. Deborah brings her artistic flair to the whole enterprise, taking photographs, organising social media and marketing and writing about our life on the smallholding. Together we think we make a great team, and we focus on giving our guests a memorable visit.

At The Lint Mill we understand that we don’t own this land, we are just the custodians of it for a short time. While it is in our gift to care for it, we try to live with the land not just off the land. We know that The Lint Mill is a place that encourages you to notice things…the changing of the seasons, the cycles of nature. We are aware of the beauty and fragility of the rest of nature, and we strive to inspire our guests by the way we live.

Running an organic smallholding and green tourism go hand in hand. We worked with the Soil Association to become a certified organic smallholding and then we worked with Green Tourism towards an award. Accreditation with these organisations signal our environmental credentials to our guests. We were delighted to receive a gold award which we have maintained for the past seven years. We are genuinely proud of these achievements and proud to say that we have created a climate-positive business.


Down on the farm with British Saddleback pigs


The good life
The phrase Living the Good Life has been synonymous with self-sufficiency since the publication of Living the Good Life: How to Live Sanely and Simply in a Troubled World in 1954 by Helen and Scott Nearing and becoming a household phrase thanks to the title of a very British sitcom. The subtitle of this book could hardly feel more relevant today. Here we are, in 2024, troubled times indeed, continuing to try to find ways to live more sanely and simply and it seems we’re not alone.

More people than ever are choosing to live in ways that tread lightly on the planet and there has been a steadily growing interest in organic smallholding, particularly since the pandemic. It seems that the pandemic has been the catalyst for many people to re-evaluate their lives and to try to find ways to live that are more aligned to their values. With the current cost of living crisis, soaring energy bills and talk of food shortages, no wonder people are finding the idea of self-sufficiency more compelling than ever.

It was clear that we loved sharing our experiences with our guests especially as people told us over and over that their visit to The Lint Mill had inspired them to start growing vegetables in their garden, buy organic food and even in some cases, start a move towards their dream of living with the land. The next obvious step was to share our experience directly through training courses.

In designing the courses Deborah drew on 40 years of teaching experience and Colin ensured the courses were practical, ‘hands-on’ with the animals and that the hospitality provided was of the same high standard as the B&B. We wanted people to see what we did here and why, but we also wanted them to have an enjoyable day out, to meet our lovely animals and enjoy a delicious organic lunch made with ingredients grown here.

Our ‘A Beginner’s Guide to Organic Smallholding’ course began in 2018. Since that time more than a hundred people have participated in one of our courses. We receive wonderful reviews which you can read here and we find delivering them a richly rewarding part of our lives.


Blanket on the ground: a tranquil summer scene at Lint Mill


So what’s next for The Lint Mill?
Over the last six years, we have added more courses to our portfolio, usually in response to requests from course participants who want to look more deeply into a particular area. So now you can come and ‘live the good life’ with us for a time. Through our courses, we hope to encourage others in very practical ways and enable them to move towards their own green dream. Through our B&B we want to share the joys of sustainable living in our very special place.

Professor Deborah Richardson-Webb

Find out lots more about The Lint Mill – RBST Scotland Food and Farming Awards – Sustainable Small Farm of the Year 2024 – and read their lovely blog – at: www.thelintmill.co.uk

(They’re also on Twitter and Facebook)

Be sure to check out Colin and Deborah’s smallholding courses at: https://thelintmill.co.uk/smallholding-courses/