The Lotus care farm project was launched in February, 2010. With support from Hertfordshire Community Foundation Grassroots programme, the initiative has worked in partnership with Watford Day Services and the Borehamwood Multipurpose Day Centre, Hertfordshire to facilitate adults with learning difficulties in work experience and training in horticultural and land-based skills.
The project works in close collaboration with a local faith community farm (78 acres), one of the few organic smallholdings in Hertsmere. A 6.5 acre plot is dedicated to growing an array of vegetables such marrows, squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuces, cauliflowers, and cabbages to name a few. A selection of soft fruits including blackberries, raspberries, currents are also tended to. Herbs include mint, coriander, fenugreek which is often used in eastern dishes. The farm is combined with a dairy and ox-working centre, where oxen are used to plough the land, weed and also harvest potatoes.
The benefits to adults with learning difficulties as a result of this programme are:
- healthy lifestyle through regular physical activity
- learning about how to grow food
- learning about the benefits of healthy diets
- development of horticultural skills
- learning about importance of sustainability
Until recently, members of the wider community have not had access to such a facility. Having extended the cultivated area by two and half acres and introduced three poly-tunnels, more hands are now welcome on the farm. The Lotus Care Farm project is now looking to engage with young people and ex-offenders to demonstrate the benefits of learning and working on the land while gaining practical horticultural skills and on occasion working with oxen, under careful supervision.
The Lotus Care Farm is affiliated to the National Care Farming Initiative. www.ncfi.org.uk