By Andy Hargreaves

Hillside farm

A Bryher family has been sharing their daily experiences of working on a small farm with thousands of Twitter followers interested in farming after being chosen as guest editors for the ‘Smallholders UK’ updates on the social media site.

Ruth and Graham Eggins took on the tenancy of Hillside Farm six months ago.

And from the 14th March, the Eggins have posted pictures of their everyday tasks including trench digging and seed planting, along with images of Bryher’s beaches and the views over to Tresco.

Ruth says they’ve had “an amazing response” and she feels that, “people are genuinely interested in farming on a small island.”

In June, islanders and visitors will have a chance to look around the farm as Hillside is participating in Open Farm Sunday on Sunday 5th June.

The Eggins moved from Devon where they had a smallholding and Ruth says they were members of the county’s smallholders group.

They enjoyed visiting other farms, learning about the different farming methods employed and the personal journeys that the smallholders had embarked on.

“Open farm days are informative, interesting and fun,” says Ruth.

Hillside Farm will be open during the afternoon for the national event this summer.

The family will offer a guided walk, tour of the crops and machinery and there’ll be a chance to meet the animals.

Tea and cake will be sold too, for a donation to the Bryher Community Centre. And there’ll be activities for children.

Ruth believes the event presents a great opportunity to promote Scilly, Bryher and the farm as well as showcasing the role played by small-scale farmers.

“If we were visitors it would definitely be on our to-do list,” she adds.

Reflecting on the family’s first winter on the island, Ruth says they have “happily survived” and they’ve loved “the quiet, hibernating feel” of the island, which has given them time to catch up with friends and neighbours at community events.

But they’ve not been standing still.

During the winter months, the Eggins have brought over three saddleback pigs.

Their first litter of piglets was born on 28th December with the second, bred at Hillside, expected next month.

Chickens and North Devon cattle are also being delivered to Bryher this week.

During the last week, the Eggins have been sharing their future plans with their Twitter followers.

The family will be planting a small apple and plum orchard to accompany their existing fruit and veg crops, including asparagus, rhubarb, gooseberries and blackcurrants.

And they’re hoping to get goats.

Ruth says they will be milked in order to make cheese, a product that is not currently available from island producers on Bryher.