Have you visited a farm lately? If not, you may want to take the time to find out just how visiting green spaces such as local farms in Shropshire can make a difference to your mental health.
A growing body of research suggests that green social prescribing – programmes designed to get people out into nature to support and improve their mental and physical wellbeing – can have incredibly positive impacts on health outcomes.
Community has always been at the centre of Fordhall Organic Farm, from its establishment as England’s first community-owned farm, following a high-profile campaign in 2006. At the time over 8000 people across the world supported siblings Charlotte and Ben Hollins to save their family home.
Now owned by the community and farmed by Ben Hollins, Fordhall is a wonderful example of community spirit and real organic farming. Among the number of community-based programmes and events, which have developed over the years, is Fordhall’s Care Farm. This project offers a wide range of outdoor working activities for people with learning disabilities.
The North Shropshire farm currently offers exactly the opportunity for access to green spaces which our wellbeing so desperately needs. Accessing the farm is always free, through free entry, parking and access to the scenic trails. Social prescribing and wellbeing programmes for Shropshire residents are also available, all free of charge (or for a small suggested donation* for those who are able to pay).
The social prescribing offer at Fordhall is tailored to each individual, and once a referral has been made, an individual can speak to farm staff about their needs. For this reason, all sessions must be pre-booked. They welcome self-referrals or referrals through support services.
This particular project is called Fridays at the farm and is a regular opportunity to get involved in diverse ways, including accessing social prescribing and volunteering opportunities on the farm - whether you want to join an “afternoon amble” or a small group doing woodwork, gardening or other gentle activities outdoors.
Volunteering weekends take place throughout the year and are a fantastic opportunity to get really involved with a bigger conservation project on the farm. They also offer the opportunity to stay for free in the beautiful volunteer built onsite eco building, the Straw Lodge. *Insert link to the 2023 volunteer weekends poster*
Read this volunteering story from Elaine and Anthony Lewis, who have benefitted from Farm Fridays as well as the Youth Project.
Do you want more information on how to refer your beneficiaries to Fordhall, or more about their social prescribing offers? Contact Nicola on firstname.lastname@example.org or 01630 638696.
*Suggested donation is only for those that are financially able to contribute, as they want to welcome as many people as possible to the farm who would benefit from time there.