High praise for Lowestoft care farm project
- Credit: Nick Butcher
A new care farm in north Lowestoft has been hailed as a 'fantastic opportunity' for the area by Waveney MP Peter Aldous.
Mr Aldous visited Pathways Care Farm to see the progress of the proposed rehabilitation facility on 12 acres (4.8ha) of land that has been largely unused for more than a decade.
And seeing the facilities for the first time recently, he praised the progress of the therapeutic farming project as work gathers pace at the farmland site adjacent to the Parkhill estate in north Lowestoft.
Mr Aldous met with Rob Foreman and Geoff Stevens, two of the trustees for Pathways Care Farm, at the proposed new care farm site as he heard about their vision for the project.
Mr Aldous said: 'It was good to visit Pathways Care Farm, to meet Geoff and Rob and to find out about their plans for the farm. The property has great potential as a care farm to offer a wide range of farming and related activities, whether working with animals or growing produce, that will give people the chance to move on in to employment, education or volunteering.
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'I wish them all the very best with this exciting new venture.'
With the site having remained largely unused for well over decade, Mr Aldous added: 'Care farming does play a very important role, with mental health issues, helping people back into the workplace. Now, there is this pocket of space here in north Lowestoft and like the successful Clinks Farm at Toft Monks, there is a real potential to create a really exciting facility to help an awful lot of people. It is a fantastic opportunity.'
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After seeing the facility, Mr Aldous added: 'It is a very, very exciting project with enormous potential. They have started preparing and clearing the land and buildings in a location that is ideal and have not been occupied for 13 years.'
More than 40 different volunteers have spent a number of Saturday afternoons clearing the site so it can be ready to use as soon as possible.
The eventual aim of Pathways Care Farm is to create a space that promotes the mental and physical health of local vulnerable people by giving them the opportunity to spend time working on the land.
Once up and running the care farm will provide supervised, structured programmes of farming-related activities, including animal husbandry, crop and vegetable production and woodland management.
The next stage in the farm's development will be to make the site ready to use with all the facilities in place and restarting the farming activity. To begin with this may include installing a polytunnel that will house the first few plants on Pathways Care Farm.
The visit came after a charity shop was opened in December on London Road South to support the work on the care farm.
Mr Stevens, chairman of trustees at Pathways Care Farm, said: 'There has been so much interest locally and such amazing volunteer support for everything we have done so far. We're raring for spring so that we can get going in earnest and with the link road (Northern Spine Road) almost finished our gates should open shortly after. We have a lot of work ahead of us in order to restore the whole site to its former glory but with our incredible team of volunteers we have made a wonderful start,' he said.
'The next step is establish the right growing conditions for this year's crops. We are currently sourcing the right polytunnel and will be building raised beds in order to help individuals get active as soon as possible.
'Peter recognised the passion we have for serving the local community and was very enthusiastic about the potential of the farm and our plans specifically.'
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