Wisbech Community Farm opens its doors to showcase progress so far
Less than 12 months ago Wisbech Community Farm was nothing more than a muddy field with one oak tree planted during a royal visit.
Now the seven acre site off Old Lynn Road has been transformed and on Wednesday its creators and volunteers opened the doors to show local people and representatives from various organisations just what has been achieved so far.
Katie Bristow of People and Animals CIC, the group behind the farm, outlined the history of the project which began 10 years ago as an idea borne out of the work Katie and her fellow People and Animals directors were already doing in hospitals and care homes.
Opening Wednesday's event she said: "The Duke of Gloucester planted the oak tree and it was the only one on the site. Now thanks to our volunteers we have planted 1,299 trees and shrubs, it has been a massive, massive effort. This is the only farm of its kind built from the grass seed up. Our volunteers have given over 1,000 hours of their time and we have had a huge amount of support from businesses, Wisbech Town Council and the community."
The aim of the farm is to help people who might be isolated in the community or suffer mental health issues gain confidence through animal therapy, crafts and horticulture.
There are dedicated areas for each on site and later this year work will begin on a Dutch barn to house the various activities during the winter months.
Funding has been provided by various organisations including £36,000 from the National Lottery and Clarion Housing, as well as support from Anglian Water and Children in Need. At present the farm caters for 120 people a week but Katie explained the aim is to expand that support to a further 150 in the near future.
She said much of what is provided on the farm is driven by the people using it and research is currently ongoing into additional activities including introducing pigs and ducks.
Explaining how the farm works she said: "Imagine being really scare to leave the house, there are lots of people who have not left their homes for years and years. Going into a confined space among people they don't know is too daunting. Here we have a wide open space. We have the animals, the dogs, the horses, Guinea pigs and chickens which we use in our sessions.
"While we are talking we are all looking at the animals and it is a less daunting. You can mix with other people without doing it directly, without having to make eye contact and it helps people build up their confidence."
Katie said the aim was to introduce more sessions for school children and added that much of the work undertaken is bespoke to suit individual needs.
Tracey Goddard, from Anglian Waters One Alliance explained how they became involved in the project from a chance encounter at a Wisbech 202- summit in 2017. From their the company has help provide support and on Wednesday provided a tanker full of water for guests to drink.
For more information visit http://peopleandanimals.org.uk