Gardening Fun!

Michelle and Scott have been working hard redesigning and reorganising our vegetable gardens.  They began by taking apart a few of the old raised beds, saving the soil and giving all the weeds to the chickens.  Afterwards they laid membrane down to help supress weeds and stop them growing up into the beds.  This works as most weed seeds need light to germinate, this is why they grow on disturbed soil.

They then rebuilt the sides of the raised beds, using new wood and refilled them with the soil, plus some extra well rotted manure. This provides nutrients for the growing plants.  Soon – as the soil warms up and spring gets underway, they will sow some vegetables.

Well done Michelle and Scott  – we will look forward to lots of delicious vegetables.

 

Volunteering Stories

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Liam has been volunteering with us since January.  He was on the Animal Management and Conservation course at SGS College in Filton and came to us for his work experience.  He chose the farm because it was local to him and we had different animals from the usual house pets.

Liam loves volunteering here and working with the different animals – he says he is never bored!  He has lots of fun and especially loves it when the piglets are born. He has enjoyed seeing the changes over the last 11 months including the building of the cafe.  Liam also helps out with Farm Tots, our regular hands on session for under 5s and their carers.  He brings out a hen every week so that the children can see one up close and stroke it.

The only aspect of volunteering here that Liam doesn’t like is working in the rain!

Recent Liam got a job at Macdonald’s.  He feels that volunteering at the farm really helped with this, as his confidence with people and the public in general has really improved.  His other employability skils have also improved such as being able to turn up regularly and reliably on time.

Liam took a picture his favourite animals – the naughty goats.

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Volunteer Stories

Amy has been volunteering at the farm for a year now.  She came here to do her  work experience with us as she is studying Animal Care at SGS Filton College. She is now doing a Level II Diploma in Animal Care.

Amy chose the farm as she thought it looked good, and was local to her.  She loves coming to the farm every week and being with the goats and the piglets.  She had never worked with animals before, so she has learnt everything from scratch.  However, she can now do the whole morning and afternoon routine on her own!

Amy feels that volunteering at the farm has really increased her self confidence and self esteem.  This has been due to the friendly nature of the farm and everyone who works here, and also being supported while taking on responsibilities.

Amy loves the guinea pigs, and has taken a great photo of them.

 

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Farm Hands Summer 2015

The Farm Hands are coming to the end of a busy summer! We’ve been looking after the animals, tending to the veg patch and greenhouse and have even managed to squeeze in the odd bit of tree climbing.

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Farm Hands

Farm Hands

Volunteering Stories

We recently had two volunteers from the European Voluntary Programme come to the Farm.  They shared their experience with us.

Our experience in Lawrence Weston Community Farm

It has been a wonderful month. From the first till the last day, it was a great experience that we will never forget. Those four weeks we had the opportunity to connect with nature and work in a beautiful outdoor environment with a pretty relaxing atmosphere. We got to meet and work with great and friendly people that were always there for us, helping us to improve our English skills and we are grateful for that. We came closer to animals and feel comfortable with them. We got the chance to learn loads of new things about animal care as well as gardening and plants which made us more environmentally aware. We most certainly recommend this experience to everyone.
Galatea and Elena from Italy and Greece.

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Volunteering Stories

Michelle’s Story

Michelle has been coming to the farm for over a year.  She does amazing work with Scott.  She loves to do a variety of jobs during her morning with us, but says she also looks forward to her tea break!  Michelle does a great deal of gardening including weeding, sowing seeds, potting on and watering the plants.  She is very good at knowing which plants need watering and which plants are weeds. Her favourite jobs are collecting the eggs and feeding weeds to the chickens and pigs.

 

Volunteering Stories

Ben has been volunteering with us since last autumn.  He started coming to Green Woodworking on a Monday, and subsequently became interested in volunteering for the Farm.  Ben works in the woodland, and also with the animals. He has worked in the orchard strimming the grass.

He is also doing the John Muir Award. The John Muir Award is an environmental award scheme focused on wild places. It encourages awareness and responsibility for the natural environment, in a spirit of fun, adventure and exploration. As part of the award Ben is identifying flowering plants in Water Vole Woodland.  He feels that it is important to learn to identify plants as we can then ‘understand the world we live in better.’  He also thinks that ‘in this commercial world it is good to know where things come from’ for example wood and the plants that medicines are derived from. Ben is going going to share his growing knowledge with other people  through posts on Facebook, a chart in the volunteer cabin and maybe some leafeltes or an information board.

Ben likes working on the Farm and feels more confident than he used to as he can help with things. He thinks that it is good to deal with food production and animals as these things are ‘the basics of life.’

Ben also feels like he is helping with his local community and has met lots of new people in a friendly atmosphere.  He really enjoys volunteering.

 

 

Volunteering Stories

Will has been volunteering with us since he was at school.  He started at the weekends because he wanted to look after animals.  Since then he enrolled on a Level 3 Subsidary Diploma in Animal Management and Conservation.  He now does one day a week work experience with us. He thinks that his previous voluntary work at the farm gave him a head start on his course.

Will loves looking after the animals especially feeding, handling the animals and locking up at the end of the day.  He is quick to point out however, that all the jobs are important.

Will feels that volunteering has been really helpful with his course as he has been learning why jobs and tasks are carried out in a certain way and about the importance of animal welfare.  He has enjoyed having some responsibility and likes animals even more.  He has even changed some of his eating habits.

This spring he has been learning some gardening as well – this is a new aspect to his volunteering and he finds it quite satisfying.

Will likes being on the farm as he prefers to be outdoors – except when the weather is horrible!

 

Here are a few pictures that Will has taken of his favourite bits of the farm.

Chewing things over – by Mei – An

So I rocked up to Lawrence Weston Farm on the 21st May 2014. It wasn’t by chance, I had intended to make this trip, despite rarely visiting Farms since childhood and only fulfilling the interest a couple of random times post my teen years. I liked ogling at animals online, watching their hilarious videos on the social viewing phenomena that is YouTube and thinking one day it might be good fun to frequent somewhere one day that I could ogle and view such things in person. Cyber land is good to find and see things you have little chance of seeing, meeting and smelling (yes, I meant to say that) in real life, but there really isn’t anything better than the real deal if you can reach out and touch it properly. That in one is why when searching for a new volunteer job on the Volunteer Do.it.com website and seeing a Farm option listed to apply to, I thought it was an opportunity too rare and random not to ignore. There have been a few Volunteer jobs over the past years that I’ve had a jolly, so why couldn’t this one potentially be any different, I thought when sending my details through. No doubt a Farm placement would have the same benefits of any other volunteer job in equipping you with new skills, allowing you to meet new people and the bonus of working in an environment that appealed to. In this case, this particular environment you don’t get to pick very often when it comes to a local Farm. Instead of canvassing for charities, or standing front of house (or be it behind a pop up table) at some type of festival event, why not feed, cleanout and talk nonsense to pigs, sheep and various types poultry for a change, amongst doing other things. The prospect sounded good to me, and if I found the opportunity (if able to seal it) not ultimately to my liking after a few sessions, I could at least say I tried, and thank all responsible for being able to at least have a go.

I can say 9 months on from stepping on this small Farm in what feels like the middle of nowhere sometimes, despite not actually being the case at all, it was, and still is, worth it. Here are just some pictures and captions of my time so far on my Farm volunteer venture.

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What sealed the deal for me to come and volunteer here at Lawrence Weston Farm was the prospect of being able to see these three porkers on a regular basis. But not just see and pet them, but feed them, clean them out, watch them pork up and hopefully bond enough with them so I could hug them one day. Jasmine is the mahoosive one laid up. She probably fell over due to the mini stampede for her milk.  The small porkers sucking on Jasmine are her piggy-kiddies, Blossom, obviously a girly, and her unnamed son.

This small army of waddlers are the resident Muscovy Ducks, consisting of one male and his harem of female followers. They have this weird neck movement that they do regularly, and think they rule the duck-roost over their other closely inhabiting Indian Runner and KC ducks. They are Mexican though, so maybe the neck move is just a part of their native jig and we should all join in.

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These little lambs were some of the friendliest animals I had come across. Just like dogs, they just love some attention and a good cha with a few pats. Their coats feel amazing, very snugglesome. They were small when I first clasped eyes on them, and with young public members.

Oct 14

The first week in June was my first official day, after having visited for casual viewing purposes before that. After a bizarre bus incident in the busy morning rush, I finally got in around 10.a.m. With my feet firmly on Farm soil (and small stones that get wedged in between your soles), it was Ian Fielder that I had the pleasure of being greeted by and being shown the first proper steps of how to.., when to… and why, regarding the animals and their care. Finally getting to walk around these animals with their bobbing animals heads (still firmly attached to bodies) in their array of sizes, facial features and ways of animal talk that make little sense to me but probably plenty to them, I decided I liked it so much that I made the easy decision to return, again, and again and again.

The experience on the Farm is a relaxed and chatty one. There isn’t the same feeling of pressure and anxiety that you can sometimes feel doing other work, Volunteer or otherwise. That is the immediate difference I found with this place when I arrived here, it’s a much more free and easy environment, and the Farm staff are friendly, helpful and informative. In my case, I have mainly worked alongside an allocated member of staff and other volunteers in a combination of Animal and Gardening activities. You have a schedule to work to on the Farm (especially in the case with daily animal feeding) and you are not left in a situation that you wouldn’t be able to handle or that staff felt you were not responsible enough to apply yourself in. This Farm has numerous volunteers, and all are helped in relation to how they can ‘muck in’ in whatever areas best suit them, whether for a part of the day or for all of it. The case may be that you will gain new interests having spent some time some that you didn’t think you would. Initially my main interest on arrival here was the animals. However, getting the opportunity to do some planting and seeing vegetables pop out of the ground after having spent time bedding them into the soil, was a rather nice thing to see. No matter how small, you can find a sense of achievement in something that you otherwise had little knowledge or contact with before.

In the early stages of becoming acquainted with the way of things, you work alongside a member of staff and, in some cases (as is with mine) sometimes other volunteers too, so you always have someone to share dialogue with and discuss farm, environment or other areas of interest, with. If you work at the Farm over a longer period of time, you are trusted to do more things individually without a staff member, and to have more input into how you spend the day in between scheduled activities. At the Farm they want you to enjoy your time here and be yourself. Talking and taking on each others’ viewpoints is a two way street.

Farm Jan 2015

In September, much to my delight, we had some new piggy additions to the Farm. All male and all with the potential to add to the viewing pleasure at the Farm in the meantime, along with later financial benefits when the time came for them to meet the butcher (no point in pretending that doesn’t happen, as sad as it can be). Luckily I got to choose which pigs, out of the 6 (or so) that arrived, that I wanted to come to us. We were in the market for 3, so with my piggy-eye, I chose what I thought to be the most beautiful and already porkiest specimens. As boys they weren’t allowed to mingle with Jasmine and Blossom (our lady pigs), but our longer resident male pig, that is unnamed, got the pleasure of their company instead. He was slightly bigger than the new boys, and so usually got first dibs on what bowl to feed out of first, and sometimes in addition, second to one that had already been cleaned out, the greedy pig. I found since watching the boy pigs together how, one, they really smell after going to the toilet, and, two, how they also love a bit of friendly argy-bargy. Maybe a form of pig-banter.