Katie used to volunteer at Southmead Hospital, helping with the teas and coffees and befriending service. Unfortunately all that stopped with Covid 19. So in November Katie came and volunteered at the farm. She absolutely loves it!
Volunteering at the farm helps with her mental health – she’s made new friends and she loves being outdoors. She loves doing everything from mucking out to grooming goats. There is nothing she dislikes, even the rain. She loves the relaxing pace of working on the farm, and how friendly and welcoming everyone is.
Since starting at the farm, Katie has also joined the Walking Group on Wednesday afternoons, and the Knit and Natter group on Tuesday mornings. She is up for trying anything!
Amy started volunteering with us in 2017. She was studying Level 1 Animal Care at City of Bristol College and as part of that course she needed 150 hours work experience. After she’d completed them all she decided to continue volunteering at the farm as she enjoyed coming so much. She also went on to get a job with Bristol Pet Stop and was really inspired by her manager there to begin her own business.
This summer she started up her own animal care business – Peachy Dog Walking & Pet Services. She not only does dog walking and cat and dog sitting, but care for more exotic pets too, such as reptiles. Business has been great with enquiries all the time, and she now has a waiting list! She says currently her most unusal job is taking care of a parrot.
Ellie volunteered with us for many years as a young teenager, and when she was taking her Animal Care course. She went on to volunteer and eventually work at Bristol Zoo. She then went for a job at Puxton Park in Somerset. When she was asked at her interview about her animal handling experience, Ellie described her work at Lawrence Weston Community Farm and the zoo. They gave her a practical assessment – handling a type of lizard called an Agama – and she got the job as Animal Keeper!
Ellie absolutely loves her role as Animal Keeper!
Recently Ellie collected some of our eggs to hatch at Puxton Park. When they started hatching out of their shells they looked very cute!
They grew very quickly and are already nearly big enough to join our main flock. This means that in the Spring, we will have lots of eggs for sale.
Catherine has been volunteering with us since September last year. She comes as part of her work placement as she is studying Animal Management Level 3 at Weston College. She had been planning on doing Engineering, but when she saw Animal Managment she knew that was the course she wanted to do.
Catherine loves everything about being at the farm and looking after the animals. The only bit she’s not too keen on is working on the manure heap. Last week she and the other volunteers had a lovely time grooming the goats, with the kid goats clambering all over them and leaping off them.
Coming to the farm makes her nostalgic as she used to come as a child – she says it hasn’t changed very much, it is still very similar. Catherine was very glad to come back after the lockdowns. She is a young carer, so coming to the farm is a great break for her. It really helps with her mental health.
Catherine is planning on a gap year after college, she really wants to travel and see some of the world.
Matt and Kim have been volunteering at the farm for a morning a week since September 2018. Matt chose to volunteer at the farm as he likes to move around a lot and have plenty of space. He also felt very welcome at the farm.
Matt really enjoys the routine he gets at the farm and doing the same jobs every week. He was brilliant at cleaning the volunteer cabin and now the cafe area as this where the volunteers can have their breaks socially distanced. He also picks up litter around the farm and in the Community Orchard. HIs favourite job is refilling the wild bird feeders – very important throughout the winter. His least favourite is the poo bin, it’s horrible but needs doing.
Matt always has great fun at the Volunteer Christmas parties, and last year won the Pass The Parcel.
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.
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.