After giving presentations and guided tours to staff who work at Ormskirk and Skelmersdale Job Centres, we have had referrals of long-term unemployed people for volunteer sessions at the farm. One person attended the farm for many months and told us that we had changed his life for the better.
We have started working with ‘Active West Lancs,’ to set up our ‘Fresh Air, Fresh Start’ program for GP Health and Wellbeing referrals. In this program, we will set up a series of mini-courses that will string together to form a 12-week outdoor experience course. This course will give clients the opportunity to recover from conditions such as anxiety, depression, heart disease, cancer and eating disorders.
We have five families that regularly attend volunteer days with their children. The parents use the time on the farm to demonstrate practical applications of many subjects. It also gives the children an opportunity to interact with others and form additional social relationships that they don’t have the chance to make by not attending regular school.
Neil and Jane completed the ‘Food Champions’ training program. This program run by Kay Johnson of The Larder in Preston, is an ambitious project to give basic cookery training and set up food hubs. It is part of a study incorporating five Universities and has been set up to help supply local areas that have limited opportunities of buying fresh, local produce and connect them to small growers who can satisfy their needs.
We have had various groups of asylum seekers on the field over the last few years. Groups from Skelmersdale and Burscough have taken part in volunteer sessions. Some of these young men have worked in agriculture within their own countries, so find getting out and working on the land very rewarding.
We have started to build relationships with Edge Hill University, especially their performing arts and sociology departments. Edge Hill is planning a cross-discipline study on the effects of arts and community farming. This project will run by Dr Barnaby King and Dr Victoria Foster, both senior lecturers at Edge Hill University.
In April 2017 we ran a collaborative performance event on the farm. It involved the farm’s community of volunteers, Edge Hill performing arts students and the ‘Walk The Plank’ theatre company.
This performance benefited the community by bringing new people to the farm, allowing them to participate in creative workshops and expressive performance. The University students benefited from experience gained in writing, creating and performing with a community.
Continued planting of trees with 400 going into the ground during the winter of 2016. Our total tree planting on site will then be well over 2000 trees. Tree planting provides habitat for a wide range of wildlife and supports our efforts to keep nature in balance within our farming environment. As well as producing wildlife habitat, it improves the visual amenity of the area for walkers, cyclists and canal boat users.
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