Tag Archives: volunteers

Volunteer Stories

Dave

Bristol born and bred, Dave has lived most of his life in Lawrence Weston half a mile from the farm.  He started volunteering at the farm some four years ago after losing his job at Bristol Zoo, because he wanted to keep active.  He’d been told about the farm at the local Jobshare office so he walked round, introduced himself and joined the Gardening Club, which meets every Friday.  His first job, he recalls, was helping build the greenhouse where a lot of our potting work goes on.

Since then Dave has proved to be a willing and enthusiastic participant.  The activities of the gardening Club change according to the passing seasons and Dave doesn’t mind what job he’s asked to do.  In fact he says he has no time for people who want to pick and choose.  His father used to grow vegetables in the back garden and Dave liked helping him.  He says he likes growing veg and loves working in the greenhouse planting seeds, potting on and tending the plants.  But Dave is an all-rounder; he enjoys the animals, working in the woodland clearing weeds and brambles, coppicing, pruning, fencing and weaving hurdles, planting trees and splitting logs.

He has also completed two courses at the farm; Woodland Skills and Herbs For Health.  Most of all perhaps, Dave enjoys the camaraderie of the Gardening Club.  He has become a valued and popular member always ready for a laugh and joke.  He says he would miss working at the farm if for any reason he had to stop and I dare say the farm would miss him just as much.

3 people standing in wood
Dave, George and James working hard in the Woodland, carrying out essential woodland maintenance

Volunteer Stories

Emma discovered the farm after Googling ‘farms to volunteer at’. She initially came along to the Woodland Skills course and then stayed on as a regular volunteer.

Emma and her husband would like to set up a regenerative agricultural enterprise, such as pastured poultry, which is where a mobile laying flock follows livestock on a rotation around the land. This builds up soil and absorbs a lot of carbon from the atmosphere – both actions are vital to fight climate change and soil loss.

However, first she wanted to get lots of hands on practical experience of livestock and farming. She loves the variety of animals that she gets to work with, and says that there’s so much you’d never know without first hand experience – such as there’s a right and wrong way to slope a nest box roof! (If it slopes the wrong way, chicken poo will go in the nest box).

Emma really enjoys being outside and with people who are interested in farming. Her favourite aspect of volunteering is the variety of jobs and animals, and the camaraderie with the other volunteers. She really values how much time Ian spends with the volunteers and the knowledge he shares with them. She dislikes – nothing!

In the future Emma would also like to learn about bee keeping.


Volunteer Stories

Chelsea and Moya

Chelsea and Moya have been volunteering with us since last autumn. They are studying Animal Care Level 2 at SGS College, and come to the farm as their work experience.

They both think that the best thing about volunteering is that they get hands on exprerince with the animals, not just reading about it or watching videos. They feel that it has helped them with their course.

Their favourite jobs are anything to do with the baby animals, and were very pleased to have been here when two of the baby goats were born.

The least favourite part is when it rains.


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.

Incubating Eggs with Blaise Weston Court.

Volunteer April has recently carried out a great project with Blaise Weston Court, a local extra care scheme for the elderly.  She took an incubator and some eggs to the home, so they could see the chicks as they hatched. 

April described what she did – “I used an incubator to imitate a hen sitting on the eggs. It works by rocking the eggs gently over the day and monitoring the humidity which should be ideally between 40-50%. However, temperatures will fluctuate just like they would with a mother hen as she will sit for a

while then walk about, resulting in the eggs getting cooler.”

The project aimed to build a connection with the local elderly home and the farm.  “The residents loved it! They spent a lot of time looking at the eggs and checking when they were going to start to hatch.  They were very excited when it started to happen.” described April

The project also helped us to discover how fertile our cockerals are, and the new chicks will help us build up our flock.

Volunteer Stories

Paul has been volunteering with us for 5 months. He helps with farm maintenance such as fencing, cutting the grass, cutting weeds back and painting.  He’s recently done a great job painting our vegetable stall, guinea pig run and the front gate.

Paul says volunteering on the farm has really helped his peace of mind.  He much prefers to be out in the fresh air and he likes to have a job that he can see makes a difference. For example he loves it when he can see people enjoying Community Orchard after he’s cut the grass. It’s important to him to be able to a job that he can work of from start to finish.

Paul loves volunteering at the farm as it’s a nice place to come and visit and he can see life carryng on all around him.

paul painting

Volunteer Stories

Andrew has been volunteering on the farm twice a week for 8 years!  He loves coming, and turns up whatever the weather, rain or shine.

His favourite jobs are collecting the eggs, refilling the poultry drinkers and giving the chickens their corn.

Today Andrew was collecting windfalls for the pigs.  We have Gloucester Old Spot pigs – another name for them is Orchard Pigs as they used to be kept in the apple orchards that were once very common in the west country.

Andrew is also branching out and volunteering in our Community Cafe at weekends. He likes working there as it is very different from the farm – he has to dress smartly and stay nice and clean.

Andrew used the farm’s tablet to take some pictures of his favourite animals.

 

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.