WHEN farmer Denys Fell decided to convert 20 acres of his land into a community farm back in 2007, he admits he had no idea whether or not it would prove a success.
Inspired to give something back after attending a conference about care farming, he took a leap of faith and threw himself into something he admits he had no idea about.
Today, Densholme Community Care Farm, in Great Hatfield, near Hornsea, is a thriving hub of activity, as clients with a range of physical and mental health needs visit each day to meet friends and learn new skills.
Now boasting its own meeting room where plans are set for the day, the farm offers visits for many schools catering for those with learning difficulties across East Yorkshire, as well as being a registered day care provider.
An educational programme with the Humberside Learning Consortium sees visitors able to gain qualifications in subjects including wall building, animal care, outdoor crafts, raised bed building and planting and photography, as well as many others.
Celebrating the first anniversary of its sensory garden, and the opening of a new activity trail and raised beds this week, guests were entertained by a music and dance show by pupils from Tweendykes School, which provides education for young people with severe learning difficulties.
Regular clients also spoke fondly about how the farm has played a hugely positive role in their lives, as they collected a wide range of certificates for skills leaned on their visits.
Watching the events unfold, Mr Fell could be seem beaming with pride.
“It’s wonderful to see how the community farm has grown,” he said.
“I’ve just had to complete some feedback forms for Natural England and it has shown that between April and June we have had 25 educational visits, with more than 870 children under 16 visiting the farm. That is fantastic.
“When I first started it was only me here with the animals at first. I had to shadow the headteacher at Tweendykes for a week so that I could learn how to handle situations, and that was a massive help and the start of a great relationship with the school.
“It has been a steep learning curve, but it is hugely rewarding now and we have so much fun with the people who come to us.
“I remember we started with three lads from a local residential care home, and now we are having hundreds of children come here.”
Neil Hudgell Solicitors Trust has twice supported the farm with small grants, firstly to fund the sensory garden last year, and more recently to buy all materials and seeds for the new raised beds, which are easily accessible for those in wheelchairs. Both have been huge successes.
“The sensory garden is a focal point for the farm, with many local residents using it as an inspiration for their own gardens, and the raised beds have been one of the most fertile areas I have known in all my years farming, we have a great crop,” added Mr Fell.
Jo Hudgell, chair of the Trust, officially opened the raised beds at the celebration day, and said: “It has been wonderful to come back to the farm and see how the sensory garden has blossomed into such a wonderfully colourful area. To come back and see the raised beds in full flower also, and with lots of crops, is very rewarding.
“It is clear to see that our donations make a big impact here, helping bring the community together and importantly giving those with learning difficulties a great opportunity to learn hands on thanks to some very inspirational people.”
Densholme Community Care Farm can be contacted on 01964 532640, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visit the website at www.densholmefarm-action.co.uk