The former vets who quit the daily grind to raise a family off-grid

No more long hours, no more mortgage or the business of city life.

Matthew and Charis Watkinson's main source of income is from the sale of eggs from the chickens they keep on their land at Beeview Farm near Newport, Pembrokeshire.

“I was getting quite stressed at work, doing emergency call outs, busy days, we didn't have enough time for each other. We wanted to find a bit of space, replace concrete and tarmac with grass and trees” 34-year-old Charis said.

The parents of five-year-old Elsa, and one-year-old Billy, constructed their home out of a horse box, a couple of flatbed trailers and caravans, with an abandoned 4x4 as a spare room.

The farm cost £25,000 to set up and build

“We made it all from scratch, some wood, some insulation, re-using stuff that other people consider rubbish and then we cobbled it together. We've got everything we need for £25,000 and we are pretty comfortable", Matthew said.

They have an on-site bio-digester which creates gas from food waste

They produce all of their own electricity using large solar panels and they get water from the stream that runs through the land. Their small stove and oven is powered by a bio-digester which creates their own supply of gas from food waste.

“It’s an artificial cow’s stomach. We've taken one of these tanks and put some cow poo in there. The bugs from the cow poo turn our food waste into methane” Matthew explained.

Sean Fletcher visited the farm to see how the family live completely off-grid

Their home is equipped with an indoor and outdoor shower, including a six foot deep hot tub with an impressive view. To reserve energy for things like the television and phone charging, they use an old olive barrel as a makeshift washing machine.

The couple produce their own electricity using solar panels

“We use a bit of hot water with soap nuts- the skin of the nut is full of soap- lather it up and then we just rotate the barrel for about ten minutes" Matthew said.

The family of four have never looked back.

For them, striving to be more self-sufficient and sustainable has become a way of life and they say decreasing their carbon footprint is their priority.

The couple used a Welsh Government scheme which allowed them to set up the farm

Matthew and Charis were able to escape to rural Pembrokeshire after they applied for a scheme run by the Welsh Government. The One Planet Development scheme allows people to build their own eco homes as long as they grow 30% of their own food and can sustain a basic income from the land.

The family said they wouldn't change anything about their decision to live a more sustainable lifestyle

“Yes, there are some really difficult times, like for example going up after a storm to check the solar panels and realising that the roof wasn’t even there any more - it had blown off.” said Matthew.

“I don't regret anything, I wouldn't change anything at all. Whatever we’ve been through, is worth it. We’ve been working on this place for 7 years now and it’s beginning to feel like I imagined. We are happy with what we’ve got. We are so rich in other things that we don’t need material riches anymore.”

See more on this with Sean Fletcher on ‘Wonders of the Coast Path’ at 8.30pm, on Monday. The programme will also be available online at