Community projects with SweetTree Farming for All
Last month, we caught up with SweetTree Farming for All to find out more about their Care Farm project and some of the other work they do with the community. Check out our interview with them below.
Our interview with SweetTree Farming for All
1. SweetTree Farming For All runs a range of activities and training for adults and young people. What sort of activities and training do you provide?
We run a few different projects, some at our own Care Farm in Mill Hill, SweetTree Fields Farm, and some are outreach projects around Watford and Hertfordshire. At our Care Farm, our ‘Let it Grow’ project for adults with a wide range of health/social support needs offers animal husbandry, horticulture, outdoor cooking, natural arts and crafts, shelter building and other bushcraft. It’s our own farm so we can do almost anything, and have our own sheep, donkeys, chickens, ducks and rabbits, with wooded areas, a warm and cosy yurt and an outdoor clay oven. Our outreach projects deal with more specific areas, like horticulture, animal farming or natural crafts.
2. You also run a variety of projects for adults and young people. How successful have you found these projects to be?
As we are called ‘SweetTree Farming For All’, we make sure that our projects cover such a range of activities, areas and people so that our work really is for everyone who could benefit. Our ‘Let it Go’ project in Mill Hill has been running for over 3 years now and is growing along with all our vegetables. We have recently opened up our delivery of the project to 4 out of 5 days a week due to its popularity. Our ‘Dig Deep’ project in South Oxhey is one of our longest running projects and is still going strong, and our ‘Care Farm’ project in partnership with the Royal Veterinary College in Potters Bar, one of our other very popular projects is still introducing clients to the lambing process and showing them how cows are milked.
3. One of your main projects is the ‘Let it Grow’ project. What are the aims of this particular project?
Our ‘Let it Grow’ project is a care farming project at SweetTree Fields Farm for adults with a wide range of support and care needs. Our motto is ‘Cultivating Confidence’, so our main aim is to do just that with all our clients. This could be helping someone gain more life skills, like learning how to cook for themselves, or even just helping someone fix up an old and falling apart bench by hammering in nails to keep it together and paint it so it looks brand new. These tasks not only practice life skills, fine and gross motor skills and team working, they give people the reward of achieving something they maybe didn’t think they could do, and this reinstates a feeling of self-worth and confidence that a lot of our clients are lacking when they first come to us.
4. What does the ‘Let it Grow’ project focus on, and how does this differ from other projects?
‘Let it Grow’ focuses on transitioning our individual clients in individual ways towards other fulfilling projects, future learning, volunteering and employment. It is a long-term project, in which we work with each client to tailor activities and goals to their individual needs to make sure we are working on their personal short term and longer term goals. For example, one client may have expressed an interest in learning more about various flowers to help them get part-time work at a gardening centre. We can then create a support plan that includes this client overseeing flower growth that year, supported by our staff, to learn sowing, growing and maintenance methods. The same client could also want help with social interactions if they find it hard to make friends and lack a lot of confidence. This can be achieved by involving them in team activities and supporting conversations that involve that client in a comfortable way to start building their social confidence. Achieving these goals could help the client feel confident in applying for a part-time job at a garden centre as they wished.
5. Who does the ‘Let it Grow’ project, in particular, support?
The project is for everyone and anyone who is over 17 years old and could benefit from spending time with us on our farm. Our client range is broad, as we don’t tie ourselves down to one type of support need. We know the therapeutic benefits of working outdoors with nature and animals, and we are experts in ‘Cultivating Confidence’ in those who need a boost to help them get on track in life, and those things can benefit anyone.
6. How can people get involved in the ‘Let it Grow’ project?
If you are interested in finding out more about attendance at the ‘Let it Grow’ project, then you can contact us via [email protected], or call 0207 644 9505. You can even visit our website: www.sweettreefarmingforall.org.uk. Our website also contains more information on our various projects and who we are.
If you are interested in volunteering to help at our farm, either with clients or even just helping with the animals or vegetables, then again contact us for a chat.
You can even donate to our projects via the donate button on our website, and soon you will be able to sponsor our donkeys and rabbits. We are a not-for-profit and are always in need of extra tools, seeds, animal food, help with vet bills and so on, so if you are feeling kind then we are always very thankful for donations.
7. How do you help the participants of the ‘Let it Grow’ project get the most out of their experience?
Through our tailored support plans, we can make sure we are addressing the wishes and goals of our clients to help get them back on their feet and move on to further projects, learning, volunteering or paid work. Everyone is different, so these needs can vary from person to person, but we pride ourselves on getting to know each person individually and working with them to help them achieve their goals and re-socialise them into the community.
8. How important do you believe your projects are for developing a greater community feel, and a broader understanding of nature, wildlife, and the environment?
All our projects, no matter where they are based, take on clients from the local area to that project, and a lot of these clients are suffering social exclusion due to their support/care needs. By ‘Cultivating Confidence’, we encourage their self-esteem and self-worth that can give them the confidence they need to re-socialise with their local community and strengthen their local support. There has been evidence that working outdoors in nature and with animals has therapeutic benefits for many, many years, and we can feel it ourselves through our work! We are all passionate about what we do and where we do it, and this helps us show each client just how much they can get from a natural environment. Inspiring people with nature and wildlife also helps preserve our environment and getting outdoors keeps us mentally and physically healthy, so everyone should try for at least a little time each week, it really does wonders!