Church Farm Ardeley

A Free Range Experience

Growing Well

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Rural Care

Rural Care doesn’t only grow well on our allotments!

There is a growing body of evidence which highlights the benefits of community growing for mental and physical wellbeing, education and social cohesion, for the last two years, Rural Care has been part of the ‘Growing Well’ research project.

The Growing Well project—funded by the Ellerman Foundation—will help document and disseminate good practice both to community growing groups who are expanding their work, and to decision makers who can help influence related policy and funding at a national level (eg promoting the use of ecotherapy within the health service).

Rural Care was chosen for the project by the Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens(FCFCG) as one of 30 farms across the UK, sharing good practice between those running established projects in this field and those that are setting up new projects. Good practice will be captured through case studies and desk research, and shared with others through promotional literature and online resources.

Rural Care shared their 20 years’ knowledge of working in care farming and social and therapeutic horticulture with people with learning disabilities in a seminar with other members of FCFCG.

The seminar consisted of an extensive tour of the farm led by co- farmer Terry. He showed the delegates around and shared his knowledge in great detail.

Our delegates were very impressed with our raised beds and picket fencing made out of pallets. They also met several co-farmers at work feeding and mucking out the animals on home field, and a group of co- farmers looking after our pregnant ewes in the lambing bays. We explained how at Church Farm we have to adapt certain practices so they suit the needs of co- farmers and how every year we manage to expand the range of activities so everybody can get involved. Lots of photographs were taken for people to use some of our ideas on their own farms.

In the afternoon we shared how Rural Care works together with Health and Community Services, Community Learning Disability Team, colleges and schools, and the stringent way we are monitored by all these different organisations . A lot of the monitoring is now in line with the Care Quality Commission (CQC) who inspects residential care homes. We also compared the East of England monitoring tool adopted by Hertfordshire County Council and the Care Farming UK Code of Practice.

The delegates also shared the way they do support plans, risk assessments and contracts on their farms with their different client groups.

The feedback from the delegates was excellent:

“Thank you for the work you put into preparing and delivering the seminar, which was greatly appreciated by everybody who attended; we could have spent another day there learning and being inspired!”

Ian Egginton,Metters Assistan CEO FCFCG

And for Rural Care? What did we get out of it? Apart from a new excellent tour guide called Terry?

A great recognition that as a care farm we are far ahead of many care farms in the way we support our co- farmers and in the way organise our activities and administration by creating our own easy read guides with lots of pictures.

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