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Fordhall Farm

Fordhall Youth Project

What is it, and why do we do it?

The Fordhall Community Land Initiative (FCLI) is a community - owned farm on the outskirts of Market Drayton. The Youth Project is funded by the Children in Need, Reaching Communities Fund which is part of the Big Lottery It runs from our 120-acre farm, working with small numbers of students who may be finding mainstream education challenging to engage in. Agricultural and conservation activities are used to develop their skills, confidence and self-esteem, helping them to achieve direction in life, and offering support to them in their education and career progression. It has been proven that outdoor activities provide a valuable alternative to conventional education, offering non-competitive avenues for achievement and opportunities to develop independence and self-reliance.

Since placing Fordhall Organic Farm into community ownership in 2006, we have seen the many benefits that working on the farm have for young people who struggle with the conventional education setting. In 2012 we began a pilot project generously funded by the Shropshire Housing Association. We worked with a number of schools and education providers in facilitating these students to progress in education, training or volunteering. The project has continued to succeed year on year, with extremely high rates of students furthering their education or progressing into a chosen career path. We are now in the position to work with more schools, widen our contacts and open this opportunity to a greater number of students - we would love to work with you to make the most of that opportunity.

Why Fordhall?

Fordhall is England’s first community owned farm and has won many awards for its community work, environmental credentials, and achievements against the odds. The farm is open to the public from Tuesday to Sunday, offering free farm trails, a café, farm shop, and a community garden working with adults with learning disabilities. We also offer class visits for local schools (Key Stage 1 - 4), organise community events, provide yurts for ‘glamping’ and run short courses. Our Youth Project team consists of two youth workers Mike Grabarz and Wendy Murray. Mike has worked in the sector for several years from outdoor activity instructing and inclusion services, to residential programme leader, and as a youth worker. In addition, he has qualifications in youth and community education, experience in 1:1 education sessions, and was instrumental in the creation of a youth club and summer camps for young people in Hampshire. Mike has a wealth of experience within personal development, as well as practical conservation and maintenance skills. Wendy comes from a conservation and environmental education background with a degree and postgraduate diploma in Environmental Science. She has worked for several large conservation charities managing young people in internships and as trainees. She has worked delivering outdoor education to primary and secondary schools as well as working on projects with 18 - 25 years olds in remote and challenging environments. She has a broad knowledge of habitat management, species identification and practical conservation.

Being involved with Fordhall provides young people with a sense of pride in their work – they understand that every activity has value and contributes to something larger. We work hard to rebuild the links between these young people and the wider community, by highlighting the positive contribution they have made and their proactive approach in doing so. Moreover, we encourage the young people to attend our Volunteer Weekends – in this way; they have an opportunity to continue their involvement with the farm outside of ‘school time’.

How does it work?

Usually, an individual’s participation will be one day a week for an academic school year, which gives scope to tailor the project towards the individual’s educational and personal needs. The Youth Worker will work with a maximum of three young people on each of the days to support young people with their individual needs.

Our Youth Project team will:

  • deliver a programme of activities that stimulate, engage, enthuse and impart knowledge about a broad range of agricultural and conservation activities, which also help to prepare young people for work, giving them an understanding of the importance of time-keeping, appropriate clothing, teamwork etc. Activities can include conservation work, surveying, greenwood working, farm maintenance, growing and cooking
  • provide all health and safety equipment and tools
  • outline a personal progression pathway for each participant in conjunction with the student and the school/education provider
  • seek to accredit the student’s work where possible - this may be through promotion in newsletters, or awards via AQA
  • provide a framework for monitoring and evaluating programme activities, including capturing evidence of activities through photographs; video and personal accounts/scrapbooks.

All young people are taught to cook their own lunches in the kitchen, on a campfire or in our clay wood-fired pizza oven, using local and seasonal produce from our farm. We require the school / Agency to arrange transport for young people to and from the site. However, if necessary, transport options can be discussed. Start and finish times can vary - we can accept students as early as 9am and they can remain on site until 3pm.

Who does it benefit?

The young people, the school, the Agencies we work with as well as the parents and the broader community all benefit from this scheme. In 2014, Ofsted reported that “Low-level disruptive behaviour in classrooms across the country is impeding children’s learning and damaging their life chances”.

Schools benefit from:

  • a reduction in the number of children excluded
  • a lessening of low-level disruptive behaviour in the classroom and school grounds
  • greater connection with school.

Young people benefit from:

  • experiencing good, nutritional food made from local / seasonal produce
  • an improvement in self-esteem
  • an increased feeling of inclusion
  • enhancement of employability skills
  • improved life-skills
  • progression post education
  • additional support and mentoring where needed.

What do we expect from the school or agencies we work with?

  • To provide us with a summary report of the child through a Referral Form including any SEND requirements, and important contact and health information.
  • To have an open dialogue with the Youth Workers regarding the young people, their progress and areas that might need to be targeted.

Contact: Wendy Murray

Fordhall Organic Farm
Tern Hill Road
Market Drayton

Telephone: 01630 638696
Email: wendy.murray@fordhallfarm.com

Visit the Fordhall Farm website

Frequently asked questions

What is the age group the provision is suitable for?
11 - 18 year olds.

Where is the provision based?
Fordhall Farm, Market Drayton.

Is the provision suitable for SEND students?

What is the cost of the provision per day/session?
£70 per day.

Length of session / frequency of sessions
5 and a half hours once a week in term time only.

Last updated: 18/01/2023 11:03