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.
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.
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!
I began volunteering in Feb 2016 when I was doing my Animal Care course. I was coming to the farm twice a week (Wed and Fri), in order to complete my work experience hours for college. I completed my course in July 2016. Having finished my course I realised how much I enjoyed working with the farm animals and people, so I decided to continue as a volunteer.
I have continued volunteering every Friday, even though I have recently got a job in WH Smith, I still want to volunteer as often as possible. I used the farm as a reference when I applied for my job and I believe my experience at the farm has been very useful, particularly when talking to customers and working with other staff.
I really enjoyed helping out with the Farm Tots on a Wednesday which I now miss due to work. I hope I will continue to make time for volunteering at the farm as its very beneficial to me, and I’d recommend it to anyone thinking of giving it a go…
Our Memories Cafe has been running for a few weeks now, and lots of fun has been had! Each week features a different activity, a walk round the farm and tea and cake – yum.
People arrive on the LW Community Bus – this is available to anyone over 55 who lives in Lawrence Weston. Then there is the opportunity to walk around the farm, getting some fresh air, seeing the seasons change and interacting with the animals. Feeding the goats is lots of fun!
The visitors have then been getting creative and learning about new things. One week the afternoon was spent listening to birdsong and seeing if they could recognise any. They learnt different bird names and talked about their favourites.
Another week everyone tried their hand at flower arranging with the special drying flowers grown on the farm. There were some stunning results as you can see below. Visitors have also painted using leaves and fruit.