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.
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.
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
Grand opening of the Community Building by Peaches Golding OBE
Peaches with Robin Hicks Trustee and Ian meeting people
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.
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.
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.
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!
Paul has been volunteering with us for over 2 years. He was interested in the farm as he wanted to learn how to look after farm animals. He was very pleased to find somewhere to do this, that was local to him.
His favourite part of the farm is the pigs – he loves looking after them.
He also enjoys the fact that every day is different – there are always a few surprises!
His least favourite job is unloading deliveries – particularly the hay and straw deliveries that we get for animal bedding and fodder – he ends up covered in bits of straw.
As a result of his volunteering at the farm, Paul had an apprentiship with ALS Energy Group, learning how to do energy audits of people’s homes, with a view to reducing energy bills.
In the future Paul would like to work on a commercial farm – preferably one with pigs!
Wednesday 2nd August was the farm’s big 30th Birthday Family Fun Day Celebration. The rain poured and the wind howled – but it did not stop people from coming and having a brilliant time. Hundreds of people braved the weather and enjoyed all the actvities.
We had loads of different things to do all over the farm. In the Community Orchard A Forgotten Landscape were making clay creatures, Avon Wildlife Trust were making a delicious foraged fruit stew and RSPB were all about identifying insects and bird song.
The Brandon Trust had their amazing home grown produce for sale and you could look round their brilliant gardens.
In the Paddock you could try your hand at some giant wooden games with Pianeta Verde or even stilt walking! The APE Project had brought some bikes along for a bike swap. The goats were certainly really enjoying all the attention and extra food they got on that day.
Near the cafe there was music from Richard Hughes and Sophie to accompany the woodfired pizza making and eating! The pizza chefs worked incredibly hard meeting the high demand for top notch pizza. There was also facepainting by Colour Junkie – children were wearing some really great and colourful designs. Juicy Blitz were making badges and smoothies which is always great fun.
In the Water Vole Woodland the Children’s Centre had a variety of activities.
In front of the entrance was a fire engine that you could climb inside, brought along by Avonmouth Fire Station’s White Watch. This was very popular as you might imagine.
There were also the Wandering Minstrals, providing music all over the farm.
Then the moment we’d all been waiting form – time to cut (and eat) our amazing 30th Birthday cake, created for us by 280 Bakes. Ali Vowels from BBC Radio Bristol cut the cake with Robin Hicks a farm trustee.
A Forgotten Landscape
Avon Wildlife Trust make foraged stew
Brandon Trust and their delicious produce
Pianeta Verde wooden games
The goats doing well
APE Project bike swap
Richard Hughes & Sophie
Making badges with Juicy
Making smoothies with Juicy Blitz
Pizza going into the oven
Brilliant face painting by Colour Junkie
Everyone enjoying themselves
Incredibly busy pizza chefs
Jenny Sansom and Friends with White Watch from Avonmouth Firestation
Thanks to the hard work of all our many volunteers and staff the farm is looking forward to celebrating its 30th Birthday this year. Join us on Wednesday 2nd August 12- 4pm for a Free Family Fun afternoon with music, food , nature activities and Bike Swap.
The farm was set up by local people who worked together to create a green space for local children and adults to learn. Currently we have over 50 volunteers and work experience placements and run education and well being sessions in the woodlands, farm and gardens.
Work will begin soon on demolishing the main farm building, which was destroyed earlier on in the year by arson. We hope our replacement building will be in place by the end of 2017. Support after the fire was incredible from the local community in the form of donations from individuals, schools and clubs, offers of help and moral support for staff and volunteers. Thank you to everybody who took the time to support their community farm.
We will be celebrating our birthday and new building by asking for ideas from our volunteers and visitors for what to include in a Time Capsule! It will be buried underneath the new building and opened in 2050.