Monday 18th October 2010
Well, i've decided that the best way to tell everyone about my project is to start a blog! I know that most of my friends (especially family!) will find that hard to imagine, as i'm positively allergic to 'facebook' and most other forms of communication, other than email!
The Care Farm Project started taking shape last year, after a family friend persuaded me that while our daughter Ella, is away at college, i should put my ideas for creating the Care Farm into practise. Hopefully, we will have the project up and running fairly smoothly by the time Ella finishes her farming college, and then she will be able to help us. Having 'bagged' a completely overgrown site off my parents, we set to work in July to start clearing it. (See photos attached) I naively thought that a group of volunteers and i could clear it by hand, but it quickly became apparent that we would need a serious 'digger'. With the help of John and Mark, two local builder/clearers, and another friend of the family, who runs a business hiring diggers out, we got the site cleared - i think we ended up hiring one for about 4 weeks! However, it did mean that we could get it done fairly quickly - we'd never have got going otherwise. Helen & Chris from Coln House, brought some students over, and with my trusty group of helpers we spent a lovely afternoon, stripping Ash seedlings, stone picking, clearing endless tyres (from the silage clamp that inhabited the site previously) plaiting baler twine, and generally mucking about! We filled a huge skip with metal detritus from all over the farm, and got the princely sum of £750, from the local metal buyers.
I found the polytunnel on a wonderful website called 'Pre-loved' up near Bromsgrove; where it was being used to house peacocks! The portacabins came from Avonmouth - there seems to be a maze of them down there.....Again my trusty helper John, had to accompany me, as there was no way Ella and i would have found them on our own!
We had our first 'open morning' two weeks ago, where several Care Homes came for a look round with their residents. It was a miserable looking day, but even so they were all SO enthusiastic, that it was quite overwhelming, and once again convinced us that we are doing the right thing, offering this facility. So many adults with learning difficulties, don't have enough to do during the week - no matter what age, we can and will be able to offer them the chance to become actively involved in the Farm, improving their self esteem, and providing them with skills to give them a better chance of gaining employment.
I haven't begun to mention all the paper work that goes with trying to set up a facility like this - suffice to say it's not for the faint hearted! We are in the throws of applying for government / charitable trust funding, but of course these things are never simple, and a lot of the funds are only available for Charitable Companies. We are looking into setting up a charity, but it takes time, and money to do it, and the pilot project needs to take priority, in order to 'feed into' the funding applications.
Now, we have the final week to frantically get enough stuff to keep the students busy over the next 10 weeks for our pilot project! I am after bulbs to plant up for a Christmas Fair at the end of November, and tools to help build the runs for the chickens & ducks. My bantams that one of my Carer's mum gave me have laid their first two eggs - so exciting! I'm hoping that if i leave them she may go broody, and then we can have a little flock of 'oklahoma' bantams! We will probably wait till the spring to install the pigs, sheep etc., on the site, and the students will in the meantime, help with the farm animals when needed - as long as Health & Safety permits!
I may not post another blog till we have started next Monday - as time is a bit short, but will keep you posted.
We are located 4 miles north of Cirencester, between the villages of North Cerney, and Woodmancote. From A435 you take the turning towards Bagendon, go up past the Church to the T junction. Turn right towards Woodmancote and Scrubditch Farm is approximately 100 yards on the right. The Care Farm is situated down the drive, up the track on the left.
From A417, turn off at Perrotts Brook/Daglingworth, and proceed towards Perrotts Brook. Just before the A435, turn left towards Woodmancote. Go for approximately 1 1/2 miles and Scrubditch Farm is on the right, just past the Bagendon/North Cerney Cross Roads.