Mrs Smith: a Low Waste Inspiration

Guest blog by Sally Bird

Lincolnshire resident, Mrs Smith (1892-94) can teach us a huge amount about sustainable living, local food and minimising waste.

Mrs Smith lived in the village of Navenby for most of her 102 year life.

She owned a small cottage in the village, this cottage changed very little since the 1930s and she held onto her old fashioned way of life right up until she passed away.

Mrs Smith’s Cottage

While she had electricity in the cottage she never had a fridge, freezer, or washing machine, all of her hot water and heating came from the range in the kitchen.

The cottage is now a museum, run by North Kesteven District Council, which tells the story of Mrs Smith’s remarkable life.

With the support of the National Lottery Heritage Fund the cottage has been restored and is reopening on the 21st of May 2021. 

Mrs Smith lived a very low waste lifestyle, even without the modern technology we rely on she was able prevent food waste and she made sure to use any items she owned until they had completely worn out. 

Mrs Smith’s pantry

At the cottage today we are looking to bring Mrs Smith’s traditional knowledge back to life, with talks and group tours exploring how the pantry would have been managed and how she would have grown and processed produce.

Learning from Mrs Smith in this way we can work towards living our everyday lives much more sustainably. 

Mrs Smith’s Cottage is closed at the moment however we are taking bookings on our website: Meanwhile, you can learn more about Mrs Smith’s Kitchen via our online exhibition, video tours, and see what events are coming up here.

If you’re interested in volunteering at Mrs Smith’s Cottage garden, or sowing seeds ready for planting, or to raise money at the annual plant sale, find out more here.

Mrs Smith by her range

Make it: Mrs Smith’s Apple Chutney

With an apple tree in her garden Mrs Smith spent many hours in the autumn making chutney and  other preserves, make sure not to waste any of the apples she collected. This recipe was collected from Mrs Smith and is firm favourite amongst our volunteer team.


  • 1kg apples peeled and chopped 
  • 500g onions finely chopped
  • 500g sultanas 
  • 400g dates chopped  
  • 500g soft brown sugar
  • 500ml white wine vinegar
  • 2tsp mustard 
  • 1tsp mixed spice 
  • 1tsp powdered cloves 
  • 1tsp salt 
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper to taste


1. Place all ingredients in a large heavy  bottomed pan and cook gently until sugar has dissolved. 

2. Bring to the boil and then simmer until fruit has softened. 

3. Stir occasionally and continue to simmer  until the mixture is the consistency of Jam.

4. When ready pour mixture into warm sterilised jars and seal. 

Makes approximately 6-8 jars. Enjoy!

We welcome Mrs Smith’s Cottage as our newest Food Partner – we have a huge amount to learn from Mrs Smith about sustainable living, and the lost arts of food growing, preserving and cooking.

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