Image above: Sara Ward at Hen Corner
Sara Ward publishes her first book, sharing the story of how she and her family at ‘Hen Corner’ have learned to become self-sufficient
Sara Ward, who runs her terraced house and garden in Brentford as a micro bakery and small holding, has published a book about how, by creating ‘Hen Corner’, she and her husband have managed to become more or less self-sufficient over a number of years.
They grow fruit and vegetables in their garden and on their allotment; they keep bees and chickens and Sara teaches courses on how to make fresh food – everything from fresh pasta and bread to cheeses, jams and chutneys.
The book, Living the Good Life in the City describes the cycle of growing, making, preserving and celebrating, familiar to people down the ages, but here with all mod cons in a post-industrial city.
“I really think that there are so many benefits and privileges of living in the city. It is wonderful to appreciate all that we have while also weaving in many country ways to enrich our lives, giving us the best of both worlds” says Sara.
Images above: Living the Good Life in the City; Sara’s award-winning Brentford honey
£3,000 worth of food from the back garden
The book shares some of the ways in which she and her family have brought city and country together, how you can make changes to how you live and the food you eat, improving your quality of life, saving money and reducing your impact on the environment in the process. Last year Sara harvested more than £3,000 worth of food from her back garden in Brentford.
“When we pressed go on the printing press at the beginning of January, we didn’t realise that the first copy of the book would be in my hands for Easter. Such a lovely surprise, we are so excited!”
Hen Corner celebrated ten years in 2020. Sara used to be a City banker. The business started when their children were small and Sara wanted to be sure of the ingredients in the food she was giving them. She started growing vegetables and keeping chickens and a friend suggested she should blog about the experiences they had as they were learning about food production the hard way.
Images above: Easter activities for children involve holding new chicks and hugging a hen
Courses and columns
She writes a column for the free, bi-monthly magazine Out & About, which is distributed in Brentford, Chiswick, Isleworth and Osterley and she also writes now for Country Living magazine.
Currently they have 22 hens and three colonies of bees. Typically Sara runs a couple of courses each week, either in person from the kitchen overlooking the garden, or online, and she bakes up to 100 loaves of bread each Friday, which she sells from her kitchen along with hundreds of sticky buns, cakes and savoury treats.
There have been many milestones along their journey. The very first honey Sara produced won ‘Best honey in London’. She travels the country taking part in the competitions important to her growing business and participating in Country Living live events.
She has had a stall at Chiswick Cheese market, selling her fresh bread and every summer she is to be seen rescuing bees when they take it into their heads to swarm somewhere they are not welcome.
Images above: Children on a bee-keeping course
Pre-order for July
She is also very involved in her local church, sharing skills and providing opportunities for children to learn about and experience things they otherwise might not, such as the joy of collecting fresh eggs.
Among the developments she is planning is a week’s retreat in the south of France, passing on her skills but also allowing for some down time around a pool in the sunshine.
Sara says she enjoys sharing their story with others, encouraging people to grow and make their own food. You can follow her on social media @HenCorner and her book, Living the Good Life in the City, will be available to buy in July, price £22.
Hen Corner is a member of The Chiswick Calendar’s Club Card scheme, offering Club Card holders 10% off all Hen Corner courses. I took part in a bread making course, which was excellent, and wrote about it here: Best thing since sliced bread.
Find out more about Hen Corner from Sara’s website, including how to pre-order the book.
Image above: Sara preserving the strawberry crop
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