Origin of the term
Originally in the Middle Ages, cottages housed agricultural workers and their friends and families. The term cottage denoted the dwelling of a cotter. Thus, cottages were smaller peasant units (larger peasant units being called messuages). In that early period, a documentary reference to a cottage would most often mean, not a small stand-alone dwelling as today, but a complete farmhouse and yard (albeit a small one). Thus, in the Middle Ages, the word cottage (MLat cotagium) denoted not just a dwelling, but included at least a dwelling (domus) and a barn (grangia), as well as, usually, a fenced yard or piece of land enclosed by a gate (portum). The word is probably a blend of Old English cot, cote "hut" and Old French cot "hut, cottage", from Old Norse kot "hut". Examples of this may be found in 15th century manor court rolls. The house of the cottage bore the Latin name: "domum dicti cotagii", while the barn of the cottage was termed "grangia dicti cotagii". Later on, "cottage" might also have denoted a smallholding comprising houses, outbuildings, and supporting farmland or woods. A cottage, in this sense, would typically include just a few acres of tilled land. Regional examples of this type included the Welsh Ty unnos or House in a night, built by squatters on a plot of land defined by the throw of an axe from each corner of the property. Much later (from around the 18th century onwards), the development of industry led to the development of weavers' cottages and miners' cottages. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the term cottage is used in North America to represent 'a summer residence (often on a large and sumptuous scale) at a watering-place or a health or pleasure resort' with its first recognised use dating to 1882, in reference to Bar Harbor in Maine. In British English usage, a smallh lding is a piece of land and its adjacent living quarters for the smallholder and stabling for farm animals, on a smaller scale than that of a farm but larger than an allotment, usually under 50 acres (0.20 km2). It is often established for the breeding of farm animals on an organic basis on free-range pastures. Alternatively, the smallholder may concentrate on the growing of vegetables by various traditional methods or in a more modern way using plastic covers, Polytunneling or cloches for quick growth. Generally, a smallholding offers its owner a means of achieving self-sufficiency as to his and his family's own needs which he may be able to supplement by selling surplus produce at a farmers market and/or temporary booths or more permanent shop facilities are often part of a smallholding. In a separate development, so-called pick-your-own-fruit soft fruit (or vegetable) farms (farm being a convenient term rather than a reflection on its size) have appeared over the years in the vicinity of towns, which in type of management do belong to the category of smallholdings rather than farms. Pick your own Strawberries were pioneered in the UK by Ted Moult in 1961. They usually consist of a large field which has been subdivided into strips of areas for fruit trees, shrubs or various types of vegetables, all the kinds of produce which come to ripen in their different seasons. In this type of establishment, once the initial layout and investment (in plants, trees, shrubs, etc.) has been completed, only the replanting of annual vegetables, the maintenance of perennials, the minimum weeding of the area needs to be undertaken, while the consumers themselves do their own harvesting. Additionally, of course, facilities have to be set up so that the customer may pay for the amount of produce they have been able to 'pick'
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