One Magazine’s Jake Tucker investigates farming with a difference at the family run care farm in Mid Devon to find out more about their work with adults with disabilities or social needs.
Nestled deep in the countryside of Mid Devon, in the small village of Cadbury, lives the modest smallholding of Knight Farm. The rolling hill setting, beautiful pond, tranquil secret garden sanctuary, and the sound of farm animals in the air make it an entirely pleasant and relaxing place to be. On first glance, you would be forgiven for mistaking it as just another quaint local farm, but on closer inspection you’ll discover that what Knight Farm offers is farming with a difference.
Luke and Emily Knight became tenants of Rixham Farm in October 2013, after winning the rights to tenancy of the 65-acre farming estate. With Luke originally coming from a farming background, the couple were not strangers to the day-to-day workings of farming life, but it was their alternative vision for the farm that won them the tenancy. With their plan surpassing the humble idea of a traditional working farm, the couple set out to bring in a new dynamic to benefit the local community and give a little back through care farming.
Care farming offers an alternative in day-care services for a range of individuals with a variety of disabilities or social needs aged between 18-65 years old. It enables people who may have fallen out of the mainstream, struggle to find purpose, or just need care throughout the day, to get involved with the outdoors and help with a meaningful purpose, all in a safe and healthy environment. Methods of care can be individually designed to support all able-bodied people that want to experience the outdoors. The goal? To successfully assist with integrating people into society and help them feel like they’re a useful part of an ongoing project, whilst gaining confidence and useful knowledge of not just farming, but also social and life skills.
So what inspired such a project? “Luke is from a farming family background, and his uncle was unhappy in care homes when he was young,” Emily explained. “To keep him safe and offer him a quality of life, Luke’s father started a small care home and ran it alongside the family farm.”
Without realising, Luke and his father had started practising care farming with his uncle and through doing so, realised how much it built his uncle’s confidence and social skills. Creating Knight Farm as a care farm allowed this source of care to be opened up and expanded upon, enabling them to offer the service to a wider range of people with differing needs or levels of disability.
So how does it all work? Emily explained that “as a working farm, there are a variety of jobs that need to be done and everyone that comes to work on the farm are part of our team. Tasks include basic animal husbandry, and care for our flock of sheep, pigs and chickens. There’s also plenty of farm maintenance including fencing, conservation work around the pond and woodland, and gardening, where we have a vegetable garden, fruit garden, and a poly-tunnel for growing much of the food consumed on the farm.”
A typical day runs from 10am – 4pm with a mid-morning break for home-cooked treats and hot drinks, and then a later stop for a tasty farm lunch. Because the farm operates on a field-to-fork basis, those getting involved get to taste the fruits of their labour, which gives an amazing sense of achievement!
Moving forward, the duo are taking on a new project that has been launched named ‘Farming on Prescription’, which allows local GPs to refer patients with mild mental health problems to the care farm for a 12-week programme, one day per week. With proven results, it will further assist recovery and aid people in getting back to work.
Speaking to one of the regular clients at Knight Farm, I was immediately struck by how keen he was to talk to me and tell me so much about the farm. You could really sense his passion, and this was reinforced when he told me later that; “the farm has changed my life. I now feel like I’m doing something useful. Luke and Emily are the nicest people you could hope to meet and I would really encourage more people to come and join in on the farm.”
If you know anyone who you think could benefit from this kind of care, or are interested in volunteering and helping as a carer yourself, don’t hesitate in getting in touch. You can find Luke & Emily at this year’s Devon County Show, or find out more information online at www.knightfarm.co.uk