Surrounded by trees, hidden from view, down a quiet track in Mill Hill, SweetTree Fields Farm has been changing people’s lives since 2013.
Run by SweetTree Farming For All, a not for profit organisation, the 14 acre farm provides therapeutic activities and meaningful day opportunities for children and adults with learning disabilities, acquired brain injuries, autism, mental health issues and dementia.
“Our motto is Cultivating Confidence” says Founder and Director Jude Allen. “Our aim is to build self-esteem and self worth in our clients, helping people to achieve things they didn’t think possible and to reach their full potential. Our youngest client is 11 and our oldest is 96!”
The farm has donkeys, goats, sheep, chickens, ducks and rabbits and lambing season is soon to begin and is eagerly awaited.
Every weekday the farm supports individuals to undertake a range of farm tasks that encourage people to work as a team, while developing their decision making, life and work skills. It also encourages them to make new friends, building their confidence in the process.
The farm provides tailored activities for individuals in order to build on the skills and needs of that person.
Tom’s parents, Rob and Janet are full of praise for SweetTree Fields Farm, having noticed the big difference it has made to their 21 year old son’s life.
“Tom is severely autistic and non-verbal plus he doesn’t like to be around lots of people,” explained Rob who said finding something meaningful for Tom to do during the day had been a real struggle before they discovered the farm.
“He’s now been coming here twice a week for nearly 3 years and has a programme which has been tailored to his needs. The team here are brilliant with him and always find something constructive to do, whether it is collecting the eggs or moving the hay, picking vegetables or doing some painting.”
“We’ve seen a real change in him” added Janet, “because the team here are excellent at managing people with complex needs. The farm has lots of space, which means he can work in the environment without getting stressed and it really helps him manage his anxieties.”
Another participant of the farm programme is Patricia who is 62 has been coming to the farm twice a week for 18 months and loves being surrounded by the people and animals.
“I’m mad about the donkeys, helping look after them when I come here, and I really enjoy growing vegetables and flowers, tending the chickens and rabbits and taking part in the craft sessions.”
“Before I came here, I didn’t have anything to do and I don’t go out anywhere else. It’s become my life. I’ve got a lot of friends here and I get a lot out of it.”
“It makes me really happy to come here, we get lots of support. If the farm didn’t exist it would be devastating. Its become a big part of my life.”
The SweetTree Fields Care Farm is always looking for new farm participants so if you would like to find out more about how to refer an individual to SweetTree Fields Farm please contact us [email protected] or call 02076449505.