Lowestoft charity’s Corton farm project is launched

A piece of land off the A12 by Corton is being turned into a community farm which will be cultivated by people with learning difficulties and disabilities. Anthony Carroll reports on the official opening of the Aid and Assist Community Farm at Stirrups Lane...

Just six months ago it was an unused piece of land that motorists would not give a second glance to as they drove past it on the A12.

But now the Aid and Assist Community Farm is quickly taking shape as it begins to become full of tasty vegetables, bountiful chickens and two cute pigs.

The farm has been set up by the Lowestoft charity Aid and Assist and is gearing up to host a small army of volunteer farmers in the next few months.

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It will be manned by people with learning difficulties and disabilities and it is hoped that, as well as giving them a love of Mother Nature, their confidence and skills set will be boosted.

And the volunteers will also give a financial boost to Aid and Assist as all the produce from the farm will be sold to the public with all the money ploughed back into the charity.

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Already a vast array of vegetables, such as potatoes, turnips, carrots, marrows, cabbages and cauliflowers, have been planted and there are nearly two dozen chickens and two pigs, named Arthur and Alfie, on the farm.

And the chickens are already proving their worth as people can buy a pack of six of their eggs for just a �1 from the Aid and Assist headquarters in the High Street.

Monitoring the birds and tending to the vegetables is farm manager Tony Gunton, 51 and a long serving member of Aid and Assist.

Last week at an official launch party at the farm Tony showed invited guests around the farm to show them how it is taking shape.

He told The Journal: 'A lot of hard work has gone into the farm so far and it has been going really well so far.

'It looks very different to the beginning of the year.

'The chickens are laying eggs and the vegetables are coming along well.

Once all the volunteers start here it should come on very well indeed.'

So far Tony is being mainly helped by volunteer Ashley Cawdron, 21, of Lowestoft, who said, thanks to the farm, he would like to get involved in farming or horticulture as a career.

He said: 'I really enjoy it here. I love working with the pigs and chickens.'

Aid and Assist has leased the five-and-a-half acres of land for six years and its ethos is similar to the farming on prescription project at Clinks Care Farm at Toft Monks which helps people with mental health issues.

The farm was set up thanks to a grant from the Suffolk Foundation, which was used to buy poly tunnels and other equipment.

Rotarians have also provided �500 to the project.

As well as volunteers from Aid and Assist, it is hoped schools and local groups will be able to work on the farm.

But Aid and Assist still needs to find money for toilets and mobile building, which could house a rest area, so the up to upto 16 volunteers can work on the site. It is also hoped that a tractor can be found for the famer, along with other equipment.

Aid and Assist chairman Roger Bellham said: 'I have to say the the farm is going better than expected so far.

'I am hoping we will get spuds coming up in the next few months.

'That is why ne need one final push to make sure this farm is a success.

'This farm is going to bring many benefits to the people who work on it - they will discover new skills, nature and build up their confidence.'

Aid and Assist was set up in 1983 and provides a day care service, a furniture re-use scheme and runs a service maintaining public and private properties.

?Anyone who can help the farm appeal or who is interested in the work of Aid and Assist can visit its offices at 54, High Street, Lowestoft, or can call 01502 586925 or email aid_assist@btconnect.com

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