A working farm in the Isle has transformed itself to reach out to people across the community.
Together with rearing pigs and growing cereals, Hall Farm in Eastoft hosts school trips, and is now one of the UK’s few and newest ‘care farms’, providing ‘farm therapy’ to anyone with learning difficulties or physical disabilities, autism, dementia, or mental health issues.
Along with thousands of pigs, the farm has Alpacas and chickens that play a vital part in the nurturing side of the farm.
Both adults and children can socialise and enjoy themselves in fresh air and countryside, while learning skills. These include animal care, planting and picking vegetables and herbs, and cultivating gardens.
Open every day from Monday to Friday, the farm arranges plans to suit people’s needs.
Care farm co-ordinator Caitlin Mayhew recently qualified within the Countryside Educational Visits Scheme
The farm is also linked to Care Farming UK in its ‘dementia adventure’, as staff continue to develop. Mark Coulman has run the farm since 1993 and is national deputy chair of the Tenant Farmers’ Association.
Caitlin said: “What we do is almost like fitness for people who don’t like exercise. Our aim is to improve mental and physical wellbeing for people with special needs. We’re really in the infancy of the project and are currently recruiting for adult services.
“It’s a non-judgmental, open environment, so the best benefit is seeing a big old smile on the face of someone who’s had a rubbish week. The fresh air does wonders for mental health.”
The farm intends to develop the kitchen garden and provide local businesses with produce, while building on its adult day services in the future.
“Our after school farm club for children has been really successful and will continue, with school trips, adult services, childrens services and workshops,” added Caitlin.