A FARM which needed to diversify in order to survive is now helping disabled people from Whitby and the surrounding area get valuable life experience.
For the past three years, Fowl Green Farm in Commondale has been opening its gates five days a week to people from 16 to 60.
The Hayshed Experience, a project thought up by Lucy Muir, who has juvenile arthritis and is wheelchair-bound, runs two programmes but has been so successful it is starting a third.
There is a young persons’ project which caters for clients aged 16 to 25 who have just left school or college and a course for the over 25s.
For these, people can come once a week or a couple of times, providing much-needed relief and an escape from their everyday learning difficulties, mental health concerns, autism and other challenging behaviour.
A new two-year programme is being launched soon called ‘Growing Routes’ and aims to help users get a job or set up their own business at the end of it.
Others benefit from learning everyday skills for the workplace such as turning up on time, following instructions, working in a team as well as farming, gardening and forestry skills.
They also get their hands dirty on the farm learning all aspects of farming from feeding and grooming the Highland cattle, sheep, pigs and chickens to helping with lambing and castrating.
Lucy came up with the idea after experiencing problems herself in getting around and with her parents desire to diversify their farming business and has been amazed by the results.
She said: “People grow in confidence, they are more independent, outgoing and making friends and for some that is the first time they have ever been able to do that.
“They are learning other skills all the time, it makes a huge difference to their self worth and confidence.
“I did it because I really understand how difficult it is for people to get work.
“I have to pinch myself and I can’t believe it is happening. Seeing the changes in people is just phenomenal.”