Lisa Evans’ story
When Lisa and Philip Evans bought Blackwater Farm in 2013, achieving their long-held ambition of moving to the country, little did they know the life-changing journey they were about to embark on.
Getting started on breathing new life into the tired, unloved farm and making it their home, Lisa and Philip quickly realised it had the potential to become much more, so combining their love for animals with their creative passions, they decided to turn Blackwater Farm into a business too.
“We’ve always loved animals, so I think we were just destined to become farmers,” says Lisa. “Moving to Blackwater seemed like the perfect opportunity to utilise my teaching and zoo animal management experience and Philip’s engineering background to create something that celebrates our love of animals and the countryside.
“I always said we’d make the farm somewhere we could share with others, so what better way than as a wedding venue!”
Philip and Lisa certainly couldn’t have picked a better location.
Nestled in the beautiful Moorswater Valley near Dobwalls and Liskeard, set in nine acres of idyllic Cornish countryside, Blackwater is now a fully working farm, home to a range of hand-reared animals and Bridle & Groom, a unique rustic wedding venue that’s perfect for couples who love the great outdoors.
“It feels like it’s all just fallen into place,” says Lisa. “One of our friends wanted to hire our field to put up a marquee for their wedding, and we knew the local Young Farmers were looking for a venue, so we cleared some land, found a fabulous canvas marquee, and that was it!”
A chance discovery of some abandoned wooden buildings from the former Dobwalls Adventure Park not only gave Philip and Lisa more creative projects to get their teeth into, but also more spaces to restore and develop for the wedding venue.
“We both visited Dobwalls as children, so we were delighted to be able to incorporate things that bring back such fond memories for us. In fact, we’ve spent two years finding the exact items we knew would work here, reusing and repurposing as much of the original farm equipment as we can to make it authentic,” says Lisa.
It was while she was painting in what’s now The Garden Wedding Room during the first lockdown that Lisa heard a radio advert for Outset Cornwall. Realising they needed some help and support to make their business dream a reality, Lisa got in touch.
“We had so many plans and ideas, I was worried we’d overlook some legal detail as we set up the business,” explains Lisa. “I knew that a comprehensive business course like Outset’s would close the gaps in my knowledge, so I signed up, and I’m very glad I did.”
Even though Lisa planned to retire from her Head of School post at the end of the academic year, she was still working full time, so attending sessions online and in the evenings meant she could fit them around work.
“I found the sessions invaluable. Getting advice and encouragement from experts who’ve been there, making connections with other small businesses and generally having great support to fall back on massively boosts your confidence and helps keep you on track. I definitely wouldn’t have got this far without Outset.”
With The Garden Wedding Room finished and their wedding ceremonies licence obtained, Bridle & Groom is now ready for bookings and Philip and Lisa are turning their attention to converting an old horse box into The Eq-Wine Bar and building a treehouse.
“We aim to offer couples a complete package; they can have their ceremony in The Garden Wedding Room, enjoy a hog roast prepared in our Porka-Cabin using our own meat and produce and dine in our beautifully decorated marquee, complete with chandeliers,” Lisa tells us.
“Guests can camp on site, and we’re looking at incorporating our animals into ceremonies, if our brides and grooms would like a donkey or lamb as their ring bearer!”
Setting up the business hasn’t been without its challenges, the biggest being COVID-19 and the disruption and uncertainty it’s caused for so many.
“We’ve tried to be as adaptable as we can, offering a two-date deal to ease some of the pressure for couples,” explains Lisa.
“The joy for us is in making their day special; we just love the creative process and can’t wait to get started on bringing their dream wedding to life!”
To find out more about Blackwater Farm and Bridle & Groom, visit www.blackwaterfarmcornwall.co.uk