Introduction to Care Farming

What is Care Farming?

Care Farming is the therapeutic use of gardening and farming practices – where service users regularly attend the care farm as part of a structured health or social care, rehabilitation or specialist educational programme.

The powerful mix of being in nature, being part of a group and taking part in meaningful nature based activities is what makes care farming so successful.

Care Farms deliver a range of farming-related activities as part of their service provision, including care of livestock, growing crops and vegetables, horticulture and land management.

What’s involved in Care Farming, and how to start a Care Farm

Deborah Evans is Regional Care Farm Manager at Social Farms & Gardens, and has been involved in the Care Farming sector for over 15 years:

Care Farming in Lincolnshire: Hall Farm, Eastoft

Mark Coulman set up a Care Farm on his Lincolnshire farm in 2017. Hall Farm Eastoft operates in partnership with the working farm which supplies potatoes, cereals and high welfare pork into the UK food industry.

Their person-centred education and care activities are centred around their kitchen garden, an orchard, a chicken & bantam flock, a small alpaca herd and 2 bee hives; everyone can get involved in every aspect of managing this.

In this video, Mark explains how it works at Hall Farm; and what he’s learnt from running a Care Farm in Lincolnshire.

Social Farms & Gardens

Social Farms & Gardens is a UK wide charity supporting communities to farm, garden and grow together, improving the health and wellbeing of individuals, communities and the environment through nature-based activities.

Many people assume that community gardens and city or care farms are just nice places to visit where plants are grown and animals kept. But that is far from the whole picture.

Many of them also offer an amazing array of benefits and opportunities, which can include education programmes, play schemes, healthy living initiatives, work and skills training, social enterprises, volunteer opportunities, environmental schemes, horticultural therapy groups, facilities for people with disabilities…and more.

There’s a huge amount of scope for increasing Care Farming in Lincolnshire; the value of doing real, meaningful work on a Care Farm to someone’s health and well being can be life-changing. If you feel this is something that you could offer to adults or children in Lincolnshire, please find out more by contacting:

Deborah Evans, Regional Care Farming Manager: carefarming@farmgarden.org.uk

More food news from our blog

Dunston Community Garden

Guest blog, by Linda Scrutton from Dunston Community Garden Dunston Community Garden was born out of a request for ideas to spruce up the area around the village hall. This Spring, the gardeners have been transforming that land, making it more beautiful, welcoming to people and wildlife, and delicious – with flowers, fruit trees, veggiesContinue reading “Dunston Community Garden”

Can kids keep bees?

They’re not exactly the most usual school pet, requiring considerable knowledge and skills, some specialist equipment, not to mention the careful handling – but the learning opportunities are as bountiful and delectable as the honey! Wyberton Primary Academy near Boston shows us how it’s done, with a little help from Willoughby Road Allotment Association. TheContinue reading “Can kids keep bees?”


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Foodbanks distribute airline surplus

As more flights are cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, thousands of airline meals are also going to waste.

Foodbank volunteers distribute surplus airline meals

photo: Eudaimonia – Grantham Foodbank

To address this, the Lincolnshire Food Partnership has been working with Lincolnshire foodbanks and community larders to make sure this surplus of food reaches those who need it.

photo: Eudaimonia – Crowland Community Larder

Volunteers from fifteen foodbanks across Lincolnshire, have played a huge part in storing and distributing thousands of frozen airline meals to people facing food insecurity in the run up to Christmas.

This month, a further pallet of over 1000 meals is being shared among nine foodbanks across our county.

Eudaimonia flies above and beyond for Lincolnshire foodbanks

Photo: Eudaimonia – Second Helpings

The entire operation stems from the kindness, van-driving and logistical agility of our friends and Food Partners at Eudaimonia in Gainsborough, who have kindly used their freezer vehicles to collect and distribute the meals across the county.

Such an impressive feat of flexibility and co-operation cannot be understated, especially under the current circumstances!

So to all those involved – thank you!

Lincolnshire Food news from our blog

Mrs Smith: a Low Waste Inspiration

Lincolnshire resident, Mrs Smith (1892-94) can teach us a huge amount about sustainable living, local food and minimising waste.

More about Mrs Smith’s life and home, by Sally Bird, Learning and Development Officer at Mrs Smith’s Cottage.

Four things I’ve learnt – and a question

1. Getting your hands dirty is transformative
2. The good food economy is a shared endeavour
3. Intergenerational friendship matters
4. Solidarity is on the rise
A question: What would we do differently if we no longer needed foodbanks?

Doddington Farm Shop & Cafe

Veg exchange scheme, chat & collect, independent takeaway… our newest Food Partner, Doddington Farm Shop, has been doing loads through lockdown to keep providing  people with fresh local food, and keeping human interaction alive despite everything. Local, seasonal produce Opened in 2007, the Farm Shop at Doddington Hall was born out of a passion forContinue reading “Doddington Farm Shop & Cafe”

60 Harvests Left

Guest blog, by Annabel Britton, from All Good Market in Stamford

There are more organisms in a handful of soil than there are people on Earth.

It’s the foundation of all terrestrial life and civilisation.

And it’s a finite resource: its loss and degradation cannot be recovered within a human lifespan.

The soil crisis

Photo by Dylan de Jonge

Globally, we’re destroying topsoil at a rate of 1-3cm each year. It would take an entire millennium to recreate that inch or so of soil (source).

In the UK we’ve lost 84% of our fertile topsoil since 1850, and its a particular problem for our part of the world.

‘The most fertile topsoils in the east of England – where 25% of our potatoes and 30% of our vegetables are grown – could be lost within a generation’

 Lord Krebs, chair of the Committee on Climate Change’s adaptation sub-committee.

Importing food isn’t going to get us out of this mess – globally, the UN estimated in 2014 that we only have 60 harvests left.

Humans have farmed for 12,000 years and we only have half a century left. That is terrifying.

So what on Earth (excuse the pun) are we going to do about this?

COP26 this year is focussed on soil and agriculture but national governments don’t exactly have a great track record of getting shit done (*angry Greta stare into camera*). Let’s look at some things we can accomplish ourselves.

1. Buy organic food and avoid using pesticides in our own gardens

Whilst all sprays are subject to government regulation and careful oversight to ensure farmers are using them properly, they are not without downsides.

Putting aside the nefarious effects on bees, earthworms and waterways, they also hinder the fixation of nitrogen, an essential nutrient for plants. Therefore, their use makes it harder to grow a decent yield next year – necessitating the use of more fertilisers. It’s a vicious circle for farmers, but it applies to your garden too.

Put away the sprays!

2. Follow the ‘no-till’ principle and avoid disturbing soils

This releases the carbon held within them into the atmosphere. You can imagine what it does to the earthworm’s home, too. However, there is usually a trade-off between ploughing and spraying. Choose one.

3. Eat (UK-grown) pulses

Peas and beans fix nitrogen in soils and offer a fantastic source of protein. 

Hodmedod’s are pioneering this movement in the UK.

The more you buy them, the more farmers can justify growing these wonder crops.

4. If you eat meat, eggs and dairy, buy it from farmers who use regenerative practices

Much is made of meat and climate change, but livestock can have a role to play in regenerating our soils, too.

For example, Yeo Valley’s cows have sequestered more carbon in the soil than they have emitted in the past five years. All Good Market’s egg supplier lets their chicken out to pasture (when possible) and so does Bassingthorpe Milk. For pork, beef, lamb and mutton you can buy direct from 3 Daughters, while Liv and Matt at Gwash Valley sell 100% pasture-fed beef.

5. Compost!

Organic matter thrown in landfill releases methane.

When you compost it instead, it returns nutrients to your garden’s soil and improves its structure.

I hope that soil soon has its ‘ocean plastics’ moment. A picture of a worm is never going to provoke the same visceral reaction as a photo of a bird with its stomach filled with plastic.

But we ignore this situation at our peril.

Thank you to Annabel Britton from our Food Partners, All Good Market in Stamford, for writing this blog. Please check out her website and sign up for her newsletter, for more good things!

More from our blog

Ropsley Market Garden CSA

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a partnership between farmers and their local community, in which the responsibilities, risks and rewards of farming are shared.  communitysupportedagriculture.org.uk Ropsley Market Garden is Lincolnshire’s first CSA – the first of many: the English CSA moment is now here: people increasingly recognise the need for sustainable, resilient, healthy, local food,Continue reading “Ropsley Market Garden CSA”

What does £30 of food look like?

Reproduction of the £30 food parcel provided by Chartwells

In January, a meagre food parcel provided by Chartwells to children eligible for free school meals went viral on social media. The image as shown on the right, is the amount that Chartwells claimed £30 of food to look like.

To get an understanding of the parcel cost provided by Chartwells, we asked Mint Lane Café for an evaluation on the food parcel – based on their Thrifty shop prices, the parcel was no more than £1.70.

Out of curiosity, we then asked Mint Lane Café to assemble £30 of food from their Thrifty Café, the picture below is the result and the disparity couldn’t be clearer.

The £30 of food produced by Thrifty Café (Photo: Mint Lane Café)

Perhaps giving those eligible, a £30 voucher or cash to spend at a store of choice could prove to be more effective.

Especially given that more stores, such as the Mint Lane Café are developing menu cards to guide people to the best combination of foods to buy and cook – at no extra cost.

Incredible Edible in Lincolnshire

Incredible Edible is about actively participating in the journey towards a sustainable food future, becoming more connected with our food and each other.

Reconnecting with Food

This takes various forms: creating community gardens to bring the neighbourhood together over food; transforming derelict public spaces to become beautiful and edible – propaganda gardening, we call it! – or re-learning the disappearing arts of seed saving, cultivating, or preserving.

Incredible Edible is about actively participating in the journey towards a sustainable food future, becoming more connected with our food and each other.
St Giles Community Garden

Across Lincolnshire, residents are using the winter lockdown as an opportunity to connect with each online, share ideas and make plans.

Online Events

Lincolnshire Food Partnership is hosting a series of online talks and discussions to support and inspire anyone interested in growing in their community, or just curious to learn more about what others are doing.

So far, we have heard from Incredible Edible Beeston, which has been running for a year, throughout the pandemic; from Incredible Edible Wakefield, which has been growing for a decade; Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust on how to support biodiversity in our gardens; and six Community Gardens across Lincoln, telling us about their activities.

Forthcoming events include Growing in Schools, and Connecting with the Council on Public Growing Projects.

Get involved!

Everyone is welcome to take part, whether to start a project, get involved with an existing project, or just pop in to find out what it’s all about – if you eat, you’re in!

More information and details of forthcoming events here:

www.lincolnfoodpartnership.org/incredible-edible-in-lincolnshire

Believe in the power of small actions

Food news from our blog:

Connecting with Your Council on Community Growing Projects

Kate Bell, Climate Change Manager for City of Lincoln Council, and Matthew Davey, Environment & Community Projects Officer for Lincolnshire County Council, talked with us about the council’s engagement with local communities and their growing projects, with lots of useful information and tips on how to how to find out more and get involved. InContinue reading “Connecting with Your Council on Community Growing Projects”

Introduction to Care Farming

Care Farming is the therapeutic use of farming practices – where service users regularly attend the care farm as part of a structured health or social care, rehabilitation or specialist educational programme.

The powerful mix of being in nature, being part of a group and taking part in meaningful nature based activities is what makes care farming so successful.

Foodbanks distribute airline surplus

As more flights are cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, thousands of airline meals are also going to waste. Foodbank volunteers distribute surplus airline meals To address this, the Lincolnshire Food Partnership has been working with Lincolnshire foodbanks and community larders to make sure this surplus of food reaches those who need it. Volunteers fromContinue reading “Foodbanks distribute airline surplus”

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