Author Archives: helen Gray

Volunteer Stories

Lee has been volunteering with us since May of this year.  He first came to the farm to take part in the Introduction to Volunteering Course, that we run a couple of times a year. Lee was referred by Headway, an organisation based in Frenchay that supports people with brain injuries.

Lee also started coming along to our Walking Group on Wednesdays, he then started volunteering three days a week.  Lee is always here bright and early no matter what the weather is like, as he really enjoys getting the animals out in the morning. Lee loves to keep busy and meeting people so volunteering on the farm is very beneficial for him.  Working outdoors, with the animals and nature, and being part of a team has greatly improved his wellbeing.  Lee says that he ‘loves helping people enjoy their free time.’  Volunteering at the farm has given his life some structure and focus, and the opportunity to meet lots of different people,  including those with different needs than him. 

Lee’s plans for the future include getting a part time job. 

What’s been happening this summer on the Farm

There has been a great deal of focus in the media recently, on the widespread problem of isolation and loneliness and how this can also effect our health. It has also been widely reported that being outside in nature can dramatically improve our mood and wellbeing.  The Farm always aims to address both these pressing issues within our community.  Simply coming down and having a walk around, or volunteering for a morning a week,can really help with these issues.

Over the last few months we have been running several exciting activities at the farm – Talking Tables, a Walking Group and Woodland Skills. These are all focused on the tremendous health and wellbeing benefits of doing things together with other people, and being outside in nature.

Talking Tables is funded by Bristol Aging Better and organised by LinkAge Network. It is a city wide project taking place with 3 of the city farms, St Werburghs, Windmill Hill and us. It takes place in the café and is an opportunity for people over 50 to get together and share cooking ideas, techniques and recipies.  This project is aimed at people who perhaps would like to boost their confidence around cooking, or who enjoy the sociability of cooking and eating together.  Cooking and eating with people is one of the fundamental pleasures of life, and there is always a great deal of laughter and fun at a Talking Tables session. 

The Walking Group has been running on Wednesday afternoons since the beginning of the summer.  Anyone can come along and enjoy a social walk around the farm and surrounding land.  This area is a surprisingly rich wildlife habitat with lots of interesting plants and birds.  It has been really brilliant to watch the changing of the seasons as they have unfolded, every walk has new delights.

Woodland Skills is a successful course that has been run several times in the tranquil Watervole Woodland. Funded by Learning Communities Team, this course provides a safe space for people to learn hands on skills in a supportive and relaxed environment. Working together in a group outdoors greatly improves people’s wellbeing and mood.  Tactile skills such as weaving and using tools are a great counterbalance to the screen based lives many of us have today. It has been shown that creating something with our hands is very good for our mental health and reduces stress and anxiety.

    

 

Celebration Event and BBQ

On August 22nd we held our Celebration Event and BBQ.  We were celebrating the grand opening of our new, rebuilt Community Building. We were very honoured to have the Lord Lieutenant of the City and County of Bristol, Mrs Peaches Golding OBE come and officially open the building for us. She has written a piece about it on her website here.

It was a fabulous day, with perhaps the biggest turn out we have ever had!  It was so wonderful to see so many people, both familiar faces and new visitors.  There were lots of great activities from APE Project, Playbus and Juicy Blitz, not to mention plenty of our famous, delicious sausages. Everyone seemed to really enjoy themselves and have a great time.

We are really looking forward to moving into our new building over the next few weeks, and having the Community Room available to hire again for birthday parties and other gatherings. If you are intersted in hiring it, please contact Helen  here .

All pictures by Bob Pitchford

 

August update from the Farm

As the year turns, we’re now well and truly in the time of high summer and harvest.  This year’s heat and lack of rain means the gardens are very dry so the volunteers have been doing a great deal of watering. Squashes are just starting to ripen and will be on sale from next week. We have potted herbs for sale, sown and grown by the Herbs for Health group. The fruit trees and bushes are fruiting early this year so don’t miss out!  Ask staff if you’d like to pick your own.

The two new piglets are now going outside 4 days a week day into the cool forest pig pen; they are enjoying seeing all the visitors.

The new chicken run is a great success there is lots of interest and food for the chickens and squashes and meadow plants growing naturally.

We have a set aside the pig pen near the ducks this year, and it has attracted frogs and toads.  This is due to the wild plants such as Mugwort and Goosefoot growing there, creating damp conditions underneath and this has helped them get through this dry time.

Bumble  and Honey bees are loving the artichokes and sunflowers.

Honey will be on sale from September.

We have goat meat, sausages and bacon for sale

Looking forward to seeing you all on the 22nd August for the celebration.

Volunteer Stories

Last week we had four Yr10 students here to do their work experience. 

The students are from different schools, but had all chosen to come to the farm.  Kian likes animals and had worked with horses before, Henial likes animals and is local to the farm. Emma had worked with chickens before and wanted more hands on experience as did Meg.

They all loved everything about working on the farm, being outdoors and working with the animals, and said that they would definitely love to come back. They all felt that volunteering on the farm had improved their confidence and given them practical skills for other areas of their lives. 

Their favourite part was the goats.  Kian and Henial’s worst part was digging hole, Meg and Emma’s worst part was carrying brambles.

Farm Hands Stories

This week Sunday Farm Hands got really experimental with the herbs growing on the farm.  Here on of them tells us all about it in their own words……

First we went to the garden to try some herbs. We smelt them and tasted them. I really liked the sage, it was hard and chewy with a flavour I really liked. The herbs we tried were (clockwise from the top) parsley, rosemary, fennel, sage, marjoram and chives. After that we washed them and put them in cups  with some beaten egg and popped them in the microwave for about 30 seconds to make mini omelettes . We then put them in two bowls and ate them all up! Sage was still a favourite, but I also really liked the marjoram.  Then we took some cuttings from the herbs and took them to the polytunnel  and put them in plant pots, to make new plants. We also took some plants home for cooking . After that I filled up some watering cans and watered some plants near the polytunnel. At the end we went to put the guinea pigs and chickens away. I carried a chicken and a guinea pig into the barn.

Volunteer Stories

Katie has been volunteering with us for over 3 years.  She first came for work experience whilst studying for her Level 3 in Animal Management.  She is now in her final year of a Foundation Degree in Animal Management at Weston College.  She also works as an Animal Care Assistant at Animal Farm in Brean.

Katie says that volunteering at the farm helped her get on her Foundation Degree course and helped her get her job, for two reasons.  Firstly the farm was able to provide her with a reference, and secondly the experience and confidence she’d gained through coming here really impressed the college and her employers.

She loves volunteering at the farm and especially likes new experiences and making friends, and says there are no worst parts for her.  She really loves every day!  A few weeks ago, Katie was lucky enough to see Snowy give birth to her kids. She says that was the best birthday present ever!