Learning to care at farm

Feature on Clowne Community Care Farm.  Pictured is Aaron Thompson  (w121114-8a)
Feature on Clowne Community Care Farm. Pictured is Aaron Thompson (w121114-8a)

Catching runaway pigs, feeding baby bulls and fattening up the turkeys for Christmas - it’s all in a day’s work down on Clowne Community Care Farm.

The three-acre smallholding gives adults with learning or physical disabilities the chance to try life on a real working farm.

And it’s proving so successful that in less than a year of being open, the organisation running it, Excell Complete Care, has been awarded Provider of the Year by Derbyshire Learning and Skills Council.

The farm is owned by Ian Boyd, 48, who runs it with the help of his sons Steven, 26, and Jake, 16.

Ian funds the farm himself and is passionate about the way it helps to promote wellbeing and inclusion.

He has close links with the Community Payback scheme, which involves people doing community service under the guidance of the pobation service, and with the Jobcentre in helping people back to work.

He said: “We’ve had people come to work here as part of Community Payback and they’ve enjoyed it so much they have stayed on as volunteers.”

“We’ve also done four to eight week work experience programmes with Jobcentre Plus, and out of everyone who came 57 per cent went on to find work.”

Ian said they also get people who refer themselves and find a new purpose in life from the farm experience.

A prime example of this is 16-year-old Aaron Thompson, of Staveley, who was doing a functional skills course at college but didn’t enjoy it.

He said: “I’ve always liked animals and I really enjoy working here. I feel like I’m learning more being here than I was at college.”

“I would like to stay here, or do some other work with animals.”

“I feed them, clean them out and catch the baby pigs when they get out, although they don’t go far.”

Ian said that, because it’s a working farm, animals are reared for food and he plans to open a shop on site.

They also have a market garden and will be selling vegetables and flowers as well to help support the farm.

Along with animal care, the farm teaches a range of skills including growing fruit and veg, preparing firewood for sale, fencing and hedging, catering in the community cafe, flower arranging and wood work.

“We built the animal pens and the poly tunnels ourselves,” said Ian, of Tapton.

He also owns land at other locations where sheep are kept.

Zoe, a therapy coordinator at a private rehabilitation hospital in Shirebrook, said they bring groups to the farm regularly.

She said: “They really enjoy it and it’s good for team building.”

“The men do whatever needs doing at the farm, like feeding and cleaning, and one works in the office doing admin.”

“It motivates them to get out and do more things and it’s good because it’s vocational based and helps them with their rehab.”

“I would recommend it to other groups, it’s definitely worth a try.”

Her colleague Tammy added that they muck in as well. “I enjoy it, it’s quite rewarding and I love animals,” she said.

For more information about placements and volunteering at the farm visit www.clownecommunityfarm.co.uk or call 01246 452211.