Church Farm Ardeley

A Free Range Experience

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Why Our Work is Important to Us

There is nothing that Rural Care isn’t involved in at Church Farm, we keep ourselves busy with anything from picking flowers for the shop to hanging a new door in the pub. Our days are diverse and filled with purpose, which is how we like them! Some of the roles we embark on at the farm offer us more than you may think and benefit us as much as the farm.

We offer opportunities for a diverse range of individuals, all of whom have their own interests, strengths, skills and abilities. We are able to tailor a day where everyone is involved in their own way.

This newsletter this was published in has been contributed to by Co-Farmer Holly, then folded by some of the students in our group from Greenside school, some of them have been hand delivered by Co-Farmers who like a walk and are learning about being safe in the community.

newsletter snip


Here are how some of our bigger responsibilities on the farm benefit us and the farm as a whole.

Laying hens
The laying hens offer us routine, which is important to some people.  The job is relatively predictable, there are many tasks involved in completing the job, and everyone finds their role. Harley loves to scatter the food. Luke enjoys collecting the eggs.  Daniel likes to get stuck in mucking out and Sean health checks the hens. Each with our own role, we work as a team and there is a sense of satisfaction and achievement at the end of the session. That then leads onto processing the eggs.  Some people like sorting over a chat about what happened on Eastenders. Florence likes to grade the eggs. Matthew is a keen egg boxer.  Many of the eggs you have purchased from the farm might have been boxed by Matthew. There is a wonderful cycle to chickens and eggs.  We all play our part and the result is our lovely fresh, free range eggs for sale in the shop. All of our Co-Farmers in some way have been involved in the journey those eggs have made to get there. Those eggs for sale in the shop offer us independence skills, confidence, social skills, numeracy and writing skills and a sense that we are part of something that people appreciate.


Sheep are wonderful creatures for us to work with, they are relatively safe, very sensory and are a great platform for us to learn about behaviour, body language, spatial awareness, teamwork and communication. Again, as with the hens, there is a cycle to working with sheep. Their cycle is over a year and starts with the rams being put with the ewes (tupping). Throughout the year there are then numerous tasks such as foot trimming, shearing, lambing and worming. These become part of our own cycle. We know it is spring when the lambs come and we know it is summer when we shear. To work with sheep you have to be aware of their signs and signals, what they are telling us. This can teach us a lot about behaviour, observation and team building.


Rural Care has their own allotment garden.  The idea behind the garden was to grow food for the Co-Farmers to cook with. Each spring the Co-Farmers choose what they would like to grow based on what they like to eat. Throughout the spring and summer the Co-Farmers tend to the fruit and veg they have sown. This again offers many different tasks which altogether result in the fabulous produce they harvest at the end of the summer and early autumn.  Then comes my favourite part, the cooking, as we learn how to turn that variety of veg into something yummy. Again there is an annual cycle that is predictable, the tasks change with the seasons and there is a great reward and sense of achievement at harvest time.


Our work is so important to us. It’s not just about getting a job done it’s about finding out people’s interests, strengths and abilities and matching them to a wide range of tasks that together make up the farming that we do.






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A Free Range Internship Experience at Church Farm

Coming to Church Farm as an intern was probably one of the best decisions I made in the last year. Right at my first days at the farm I fell in love with the beautiful surroundings, the lovely animals and my most favourite spot at Church Farm, the Orchard. Coming here is not just a working experience, but an experience going though school of life. I had the great opportunity to work in many different departments at the farm such as the Café, the Shop and Events, Horticulture and Rural Care, what brought my week not just a good mix but constant confusion for my five different bosses. It gave me the chance to work with so many different and interesting people and do so many things I’ve never done before in my life.

Judith with apple

I learned hundreds of worlds and expressions (“jiggery-pokery” is one of my favourites), how to carry three plates at a time, and I got an introduction into English cooking and baking, learned how to best pick up a chicken to pet it, that parsnips love the spot where they grew and are not happy to leave it (muscle power is required) and that the most important thing about packing 300 orders of Christmas meat is concentration and therefore no music or singing – a bit of whistling is ok though. 😉 I’ve been driving on the wrong side of the road, changed gears with my left hand and learned the game sh**head which turned out to be one of my favourite card games, as long as I’m not the “Scheißkopf.” This list would go beyond the size of this page, but every day was different.

Judith pruning

All these experiences and many more are combined with special moments I shared with people at the farm. People I did not just work, but also live with, for six months, what is not always easy going, but part of the Church Farm Experience. I want to thank Tim for giving me this opportunity and all the people working, volunteering and visiting the farm—you make it the place it is. I will never forget these very special six months I spent here, all the good, the bad, the happy moments and memories, and all the people I had the pleasure to meet.

A unique experience at a unique place!

Judith, 26, Tyrol, Austria