In January we held another quirky Rhubarb Farm celebration. Called “Recovery, Rainwater and Rehabilitation” it was to thank the funders of 3 new facilities for the Farm. Our Recovery Café (a portacabin) was funded by the Derbyshire County Council Drug and Alcohol Team. Our Training Room (a portacabin) was funded by the Derbyshire Police and Crime Commissioner’s Crime Prevention Fund. A water harvesting tank and irrigation system was funded by a Heritage Lottery Fund project called Limestone Journeys. Representatives from each of the funders came and cut 3 ribbons, and then all the volunteers and staff came out of the cold and wind for tea and cakes.
November saw us working a new piece of land we have been granted a few miles from our main site in Langwith. We have so far planted onions, garlic and rhubarb plants. In the Spring we will be planting a lot of brassicas and leeks.
Our Maths course has been popular with volunteers who have very little maths knowledge, and are finding it both challenging and interesting.
15 staff and volunteers also took a Learning Disability Awareness course.
And Rhubarb Farm also won an award for Disability Inclusion from the Mansfield Chad newspaper Business Awards!
In October we welcomed two new staff members to the team. Sophie Pitchford has joined as Buddy Worker, and Michael Ellis has joined as Gardener. Both had been volunteers previously, though got their jobs at interview as the best candidates.
We held a Hallowe’en event on 30th October with lots of silly games and activities. Staff and the families who came dressed for the occasion and fun was had by all, despite the rain! We hold our events outdoors, which is always risky, but then we are a Farm after all!
We are continuing to harvest our crops for our weekly veg bags, and still collect surplus food weekly from Sainsbury’s to provide fresh veg for families in food poverty or emotional trouble.
Rhubarb Farm ran the Langwith Show on 5th Sept. We had 70 stalls, entertainers and activities, with pizzas from our outdoor pizza ovens, brass band, rock band, Dog Show, traditional Produce Show, bouncy castles, archery, face-painting, salsa dancing, kick boxing and dog agility displays.
39 staff and volunteers helped run the Show, and over 2,000 people came along. This was an especially good thing because these deprived ex-pit villages are very isolated and there is no other big community event in Langwith during the year. Rhubarb Farm made £3,000 for our work. A great day was had by all, and it didn’t rain!
August has seen an exciting development whereby Rhubarb Farm has been offered some other land in order to expand our work and reach more people. This land, outside the old pit village of Creswell, will become a satellite project for us, and since it has some old ponds there is a possibility that we could develop a new small enterprise running a fishing project. We plan to engage people in Creswell, which is a deprived rural village.
Most of August was spent preparing for the Langwith Show, which we run for the local community – we’ll send photos for the September update.
May is a very hectic time in the growing season, as seeds have to be planted, transplanted and planted out, depending on the weather. May was particularly wet and windy and caused some damage and put back our production somewhat.
The English course which is running on site for people with low level literacy used a pond-dipping exercise to learn reporting skills. It was a great way to engage volunteers and inspired them all – practical learning, thanks to Bolsover Adult Education Service.
We started cultivating our 6 acre field with prisoners coming daily under Luke’s supervision – who himself spent 8 years in prison. This is a big step forward for us.
More volunteers come in too as the weather improves, and everyone needs some sort of support, so staff are really busy.
We have appointed our ex-offender mentor, Luke Kelly as Horticulture Supervisor for our new project extending our growing area. This is great progression for him because after 8 years in prison and a long criminal history he is now one of the Farm’s success stories – a good leader, role model and mentor.
We ran a Level One Social Enterprise course for volunteers who made craft things and then did a stall at Mansfield Market and attracted a lot of interest and buyers.
Rhubarb Farm is an environmental and social enterprise, based in North East Derbyshire, aiming to provide a service to people with learning disabilities, mental health issues, ex service personnel and the unemployed. Theraputic organic horticulture is used to improve health and well being.