Newsletter - River Bourne Community Farm

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Five years ago in January 2010 after a delay of 3 weeks waiting for the heavy snow to melt enough to allow access to the site, River Bourne Community Farm opened for business.

The first job was to improve the views to the water meadows by having the hedges professionally laid.

 After this, the farm sought the assistance of Wiltshire Council to relay Cow Lane which had been virtually inaccessible for years unless you were a fly-tipper! Over the next few years the farm installed kissing gates and permissive paths around the water meadows creating miles of dog walking which are now very popular and well used.

After many months spent removing 200 tonnes of debris from the site, the farmyard began to take shape, with the creation of animal pens, paddocks, compost toilets and straw bale classroom all built with the help of the farm’s dedicated volunteers. Today the farm is a working farm and attractive community amenity with a small shop and cafe selling the farm’s eggs and meat and other local produce. Over eighty registered volunteers offer their assistance to the farm, looking after and feeding the farm’s livestock, helping at events, leading school visits and helping with building projects. Laverstock & Ford Parish Council who actively support the work of the farm have their office on the farm site.

In June 2010 the farm held its first annual Open Day attended by 5000 people. There are now a number of ambitious and successful community events held each year (see dates for your diary). The farm is also available for hiring including wedding receptions, three of which have already taken place on the farm. In October 2011 at the Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) Awards the farm was pleased to be awarded ‘The Best Social Enterprise in Wiltshire 2011’. Over the last five years the farm events have attracted around 27,000 people to the farm and the farmyard itself has seen an annual footfall of around 10,000. In May 2013, the farm was awarded "The Prince of Wales Award of Honour for 2013" for the most outstanding contribution to improving the lives of their community. This award is testament to the hard work and contribution of the farm’s staff, farm volunteers, Friends of the Farm and Supporters.

In 2011 the Farm began offering vocational education to KS4 secondary students who come from a variety of schools in the Salisbury area for one day a week to learn about farming,  
      horticulture and the environment. Many of these students have special educational needs, are looked-after children, are carers or are disaffected with school and do very well on the farm, learning essential skills for further education or the work place. The farm is now an accredited provider of alternative education and a certified BTEC Centre.

In addition to these young people the farm welcomes around 2000 primary school children to the farm each year on organised visits led by trained volunteer farm leaders. The farm is also out and about giving talks to social groups in the local area. Organisations such as Help for Heroes bring veterans to the farm for rehabilitation projects and businesses such as DHL UK come for funded team building days on the farm.

The most recent addition to the farm’s facilities is an engineering workshop which replaces a dilapidated farm building. The workshop was funded by the Landfill Communities Fund via Community First and will benefit the farm’s BTEC students and the local community. The build is well underway and will be finished by the end of February 2015. As a result of this project and the farm’s role as a BTEC centre and Alternative Provider of education to 15/16 year old young people, the farm was presented with an award for the Most Innovative New Community Run Project or Service 2014 at the Community First AGM in September 2014.

The farm is looking forward to the coming year with fingers crossed for good weather for the events. The farm’s ‘wish list’ for 2015 includes the provision of an outdoor learning pre-school and after school club, a bigger and better farm shop and cafe to accommodate a growing number of visitors to the farm.
Staff and volunteers will be working hard to achieve these aims with the continuing support of the Friends of the Farm, Supporters and the local community who support the farm by attending events and offering donations.     Here’s to the next five years!

Preview of an i
nterpretive display board explaining the River Bourne as part of the farm.

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