Thanks to funding from the Federation of City Farms and Gardens and from the Community Land Advisory Service, 31 students, volunteers and staff members were able to enjoy a visit to a similar project called Oaktree Farm, in Staffordshire.
A few of us had travelled there before, so we knew that we would be welcomed by David Moreton, the manager, and his enthusiastic team members, who help run a rural project, based on a farm. Everyone was excited about our day out, made even more enticing by the recommendations of being able to stroke the farm animals, and eat lovely sandwiches and cake in a recently constructed café and training kitchen there. (Washing our hands in-between, of course!)
We arrived safely at 10.45am, and then were shown the hens, goats, guinea pigs and ducks. Just before a delivery of hay, we were able to look at 4 young calves, which the farm had recently acquired.
They were very tame, and didn’t mind being stroked. Then some of our group went to see the green and glass houses, some of which had tomatoes and dahlias growing inside. Some people went to see the small orchard with the medlar tree, and the growing plots, which had some lovely flowers and vegetables ripening there.
Others were keen to see the shop, to pick up some lovely pottery work, which is produced by their team members under the guidance of a potter.
Others were keen to eat up their sandwiches, as it was getting on for that important time of the day.
Everyone paid a visit to theOaktree Tea Room, which was built about 5 years ago with National Lottery Funding. David and his volunteers told us that this had proved a big success, drawing people to their project, who could buy some plants or crafts and enjoy tasty light refreshments, all prepared on site. Geoff and Ian were particularly impressed by the food, as were Jean and Chris. Dan liked the lemon drizzle cake, and Avril bought a piece of cake to take home to her carers.
We could see that the team members there were involved in many tasks either in the café, the kitchen, the farm and the greenhouses,
and gained many useful life skills.
Everyone had a good time, and some of our students were so tired, they fell asleep on the way home.
It has been agreed that we will definitely go on another day trip out soon, and the visit has generated lots of ideas for us to consider as we go forward in our own growth and development.