Pilsdon at Malling covers six acres (including buildings) and we attempt to live as self-sufficiently as possible. We have a large vegetable garden with two vast greenhouses left by our monastic predecessors who used to grow tomatoes hydroponically and sold them locally as 'Monastery Tomatoes'. We are blessed to be beside St. Mary's Abbey which enriches our life and the Community here.
We are now producing dessert grapes in the larger greenhouse both for our own use and for sale. The vines create a beautiful canopy underneath which we are growing tomatoes, peppers, chillies and aubergines. The smaller of the two greenhouses is used in conjunction with the vegetable garden. The vegetable has been very successful this year and we are hoping that we will continue next year with a wider variety of vegetables. We use a very Benedictine system - 5 foot beds which enable you to reach across the beds from both sides without walking on them. The types of vegetables are then grouped together and we use a three-bed rotation system over each year. We are looking to grow even more in quantity next year.
Courtesy of George, our volunteer we have a new grounds plan which can be viewed by clicking here.
Buildings and Chapel
With one main building and cloister area and another known as ‘The Cottages’ we are also blessed with having a Chapel which is believed to have begun life as a gatehouse before becoming a barn and then finally to a chapel. In this beautiful 15th Century building we hold four services a day to which all are welcome – we hold the Eucharist twice a week; midday on Wednesday and 6pm on Sundays.
As with our vegetables we are trying to be self-sufficient in our meat and eggs. We regularly have pigs and lambs who keep our freezers well stocked. We have two Jacob ewes and a South down ewe. We are hoping to increase out flock this year or early next year. Our chickens are rescued battery hens and now enjoy an extensive enclosure.
We have also succesfully reared our own chicks both from under the hen and also using our incubator. We use an incubator because the breed of chicken used by battery farmers have had the genes bred for laying and not for sitting so they do not remain long enough for the chicks to hatch.
The stream is home to several geese and beyond the stream, the meadow, which is home to the sheep.
Our main supplier of pigs is East Sutton Park farm, and we generally get 3 or 4 at a time. Often in the winter they are hardly seen as they stay in their sty keeping warm!
Guests may not have pets but there is one dog (George) and two cats (Cherry and Freddy) who live with us.
The animals enjoy the best care and lives possible and are beneficial to all in the Community.
We are grateful as a Community for all the people who help us with our animals.