Set in the heart of Melton lies a three-acre farm. The Deben Community Farm was set up by three years ago by the three directors of the Pitstop Out of School Club Community Interest Company, a not-for-profit organisation providing a pre-school, after school club and holiday club in Melton. Originally set up to enable children to access nature and animals, thee years on it has become so much more.
The farm now runs a care farm supporting 36 placements for children and young people, including home education sessions. The young people that attend the farm fall outside of the mainstream education system due to learning disabilities, poor mental health, low academic achievement or have low self-esteem. This is where nature and animal therapy works its magic and can make a positive difference, from teaching new skills, how to work as a team and building self-confidence to turning a life around and providing new opportunities.
One of our success stories is a child who attended who didn’t mix with his peers and wouldn’t talk. After just three sessions of working with the animals it was like having a different child, he was in his element mucking out stables, grooming the horses and helping out around the farm. He started working with other children and talking so much his teacher had to visit to believe it. Back at school, he remained solitary and non-communicative. This proves, without a doubt, that every child can blossom and reach their potential if they are in the best environment that meets their needs as an individual.
Part of our work also includes an Ofsted ‘Outstanding’ children’s holiday club. Here we provide an environment that enables children to explore nature and the great outdoors without the constrains of a classroom. They have opportunities to learn where their food comes from, and despite living in rural England, there are children who come to us who have never picked a bean or eaten a tomato straight from the plant, pulled a carrot or even seen the hens that provide the eggs they eat. To pass on this knowledge and offer these experiences provides not only learning and healthy eating but plants the seed for new opportunities.
We welcome everyone to the farm and every Sunday afternoon we open to the community and hold our volunteer sessions, bringing the community together. One of our regular volunteers is a lovely retired gentleman who has a passion for growing fruit and veg, a perfect match for our overgrown fruit cage! But growing fruit and veg is only part of the story, the other real value is the social aspect of getting out of the house and meeting other like-minded people and is his highlight of the week.
Everyone is welcome at the farm, come along and meet the goats, ponies, sheep, rabbits, hens, Heather and Cora our highland cows, and our rare breed Oxford Sandy & Black pigs. If you want to be more hands on then bring your wellies and get involved with looking after the animals, farm maintenance or growing veg to sell in our farm shop, there’s always something to do! We are a not-for-profit organisation so all proceeds go straight back into the farm.
Like us on Facebook @debencommunityfarm or to find out more contact Heather on T: 07732681125 or E: email@example.com
Picture shows: Prince and Rollo (in the red jacket) who joined the farm during lockdown