Christmas trees light up care farm’s day as it helps vulnerable through dark times

Iris Van Zeton and Doeke Dobma and, tenant farmers, at Clinks Care Farm in Beccles. Picture: Daniell

Iris Van Zeton and Doeke Dobma and, tenant farmers, at Clinks Care Farm in Beccles - Credit: Danielle Booden

Christmas trees have been given a new lease of life at an East Anglian care farm — which is now looking to help people affected by coronavirus.

Clinks Care Farm at Toft Monks, Beccles, has kept busy during lockdown by asking people to drop off their trees.

The donated Christmas trees at Clinks Care Farm in Beccles being shredded for use at the farm. Pictu

The donated Christmas trees at Clinks Care Farm in Beccles being shredded for use at the farm - Credit: Danielle Booden

These are used for a host of purposes including as food for the farm’s goat herd and shelter for its free range hens who peck at the needles and scratch under the trees during the bird flu lockdown, said care farm founder Doeke Dobma.

What’s left over is shredded into wood chips to create footpaths for the farm’s cut flower garden.

Recycling the trees also means that they haven’t made it into landfill, he added.


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“A lot of usual drop off venues closed their gates such as Africa Alive so people diverted their trees to us. We have now over 200 trees — too many for the animals but enough as chips for footpaths,” he explained. 

Ben Burgess of Norwich lent a shredder for free. It was a good learning and work experience for the team, said Doeke, whose farm supports people with a range of issues including mental health problems.

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The care farm has entered talks with two local GP surgeries — Chet Valley Medical Centre in Loddon and the Medical Centre in Beccles — with the aim of setting up a Covid pilot project tackling obesity.

“It has been well reported that people who are obese are more at risk and likely to be hospitalised. We offered to work with both GP surgeries,” he said. 

“They will refer their patients to the pilot project and we will try to raise funds to start the project in late spring early summer. It involves people coming to the farm, working on the land growing vegetables for them to take home and for local chefs to help teach with cooking healthy and simple meals at Clinks Farm. 

“With the surgeries, we want to expand to include those people who suffered badly from Covid and are experiencing long Covid fatigue, anxiety, low mood, physical weakness etc. Currently and understandable the focus is on here and now but little attention on those who are ‘left behind’.”

The donated Christmas trees at Clinks Care Farm in Beccles being shredded for use at the farm. Pictu

The donated Christmas trees at Clinks Care Farm in Beccles being shredded for use at the farm - Credit: Danielle Booden

The farm’s landlord Norfolk County Council is helping with some of the logistics such as creating extra car parking - but the care farm has a challenge on its hands to raise £10k to kick-start the pilot project.

Clinks Care Farm recently raised enough money from a Just Giving fundraising appeal and other online donations to create a kitchen extension so that it can operate with adequate social distancing to comply with Covid rules. 

“The building work is now completed and we use it in a safe way. Most day care provision were closed and are closed again but we kept our gates open to our vulnerable farm helpers who needed that social contact, support and outdoor activity to keep them safe and well,” explained Doeke.

The farm has also created two more jobs to help with growing produce and distributing food boxes. Two farm helpers have also secured jobs with local employers - a vet and a pharmacy. It is hoping to offer placements under the government’s KickStart programme for two local young people finding it difficult to secure jobs during the crisis.

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