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.

Get our newsletter straight to your inbox

Success! You're on the list. But check your junk mail folder.

More Lincolnshire Food news from our blog

Three High Street Bakers

Most of us in Lincolnshire, most of the time, consume uniform baked products, produced on an industrial scale by workers we will never meet. But it’s not the only choice available to us. We went to meet three highly skilled and passionate bakers, who are baking fresh each day on Lincoln High Street. It’s a […]

Market gardeners

Fringe Farming

For fruit and vegetable crops – I’m talking the 7-a-day stuff that most of us need way more of in our diets – it’s a completely different story. 

Just a few acres, with polytunnels or glasshouses require constant tending, and can employ numerous people doing skilled, interesting, rewarding, socially useful jobs. 

Fruit and vegetables don’t necessarily need much processing before they reach our plates. We want to eat them fresh – the fresher the better! 

It would make sense, then, that the most labour intensive, perishable, unprocessed foods are grown in close proximity to urban areas.

We Won Bronze!

Greater Lincolnshire has become the latest place to win a prestigious Sustainable Food Places award. The award recognises Greater Lincolnshire Food Partnership’s work to promote healthy, sustainable and local food and to tackle some of today’s greatest social challenges, from food poverty and diet-related ill-health to the disappearance of family farms and the loss of […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: