Have your say on our plans to develop a community care farm

About the care farm

We’re working in partnership with local community group Project 6 and other community and voluntary organisations to develop a community care farm on the edge of our hospital grounds.

The farm will be open to local communities and will promote wellbeing through gardening, animal care and wildlife conservation. Local people will be able to grow and harvest fruit and vegetables, take part in conservation activities such as building wildlife habitats, and help care for a small number of animals such as pygmy goats to support therapeutic wellbeing activities.

Some parts of the farm are subject to planning consent and we are seeking the views of local residents to ensure we have properly considered their needs and preferences in our planning application.

Click here to share your feedback.

What is a community care farm?

First and foremost the care farm is a community asset – we want it to be created and run by local people, for the benefit for local people.

In the future, the farm will be operated by a community interest company (CIC) – a special type of limited company which exists to benefit the community. For now, the project is being developed through collaboration of voluntary, community and charity sector organisations, and NHS hospital and mental health services.

The farm will be a community allotment, a small animal care centre, a classroom, activity space, therapy space, hobby area and anything else that you want it to be – the possibilities are endless!

The care farm project team is absolutely committed to creating a wonderful space where people can come together and have fun interacting with animals and nature, and growing fruit and vegetables for the benefit of local people.

Our vision is to employ someone to oversee the day-to-day running of the farm to keep it safe but to keep the site open and accessible so that everyone benefits.

There is a Code of Practice for care farms which helps to ensure they are run very much with animal and human welfare as the highest priority. You can read more about care farms and how they are regulated on the Social Farms and Gardens website www.farmgarden.org.uk

What will the farm offer?

Whilst the space will provide an informal location for anyone to use, we also recognise the well-evidenced benefits of care farms for people with specific health and wellbeing needs. Our aim is to help local people find ways to stay healthy and whilst well doing things they enjoy so it is important that we develop some ‘planned’ activities with the right kind of therapists, support workers and animal and horticulture experts on hand to give people the best possible experiences.

We hope the farm will offer lots of different activities over time to support children, young people and adults from all walks of life to engage with horticulture, animals and nature.

Social and therapeutic horticulture

Growing produce together can bring wonderful benefits for local communities; reducing social isolation, building confidence and helping people to feel a sense of value and achievement.

We can also use horticulture as a way to support people who are undergoing rehabilitation, for example if they’ve had a stroke. Planting seeds can help therapists to identify people’s dexterity, and weeding and filling plant pots are all activities that strengthen muscles that may have become weakened during their illness.

Animal assisted therapy

There is a vast and ever growing library of evidence that shows interaction with animals can help with both mental and physical wellbeing.

For some people recovering from illness, the responsibility of being there for an animal – to get up and dressed, to go to the farm, clean out the animal pen and to groom and feed the animals – is a fantastic way to re-introduce routine, generate a feeling of self-worth and accomplishment, and regain lost skills and confidence. 

We want the farm to be a place for everyone – Project 6 is leading conversations with other local community groups and charities to identify what benefits the farm could bring and we are exploring the opportunities to link in with schools and colleges to further the opportunities around learning and skills development.

We are really keen to hear local people’s views on how we can make it a real asset for our local residents and communities.

Our commitment to sustainability

The care farm partner organisations are absolutely committed to environmental sustainability and we have agreed a number of principles for the farm to maintain and grow its green credentials:

  • We will promote environmentally-friendly travel and only encourage vehicle use where it is needed; for example, for deliveries of animal feed and for Blue Badge holders.
  • We will minimise light pollution wherever possible.
  • Materials used at the build the farm will be recycled, re-used or repurposed wherever possible.
  • We will keep the land as natural as possible – this includes keeping the boundary trees and hedges, and creating wildlife habitats.
  • We will put back more than we take out – no shrubs or trees will be removed unless absolutely necessary. If required, we will plant two replacements for every one removed.

Our commitment to sustainability will continue to grow and we’d love your views on how we can be even more environmentally-conscious.

Our proposals for a care farm

Where will it be?

The proposal is to locate the farm on a piece of land at the end of Lyon Road where the public bridleway begins. This land is currently used for the occasional Air Ambulance landing and as a place where the hospital gardening team composts natural vegetation to put back into the land.

The hospital has applied for planning consent for a new helideck to be built next to A&E which will improve the patient experience for those who need this vital service. This in turn would free up the land ear-marked for the farm.

In the meantime, a phased plan is being considered for the farm which will allow the farm group and local communities to begin to populate the site with basic infrastructure and areas for planting and growing produce prior to fully taking over the land.

What might the site look like?

The space is currently a blank canvas with just one ‘hardstanding’ area from the former tennis courts that used to occupy the land. The initial project will look to introduce a cabin/classroom made from a recycled shipping container and animal shelters with small hardstanding areas for animals to be cleaned and groomed. Subject to access and planning permission, the existing hardstanding area will be used for a very limited amount of parking to ensure we can support people of all abilities to use it in future.

You can view the current plans here:

As this is a community project, the future design of the farm will be developed over time with local people and will respond to what is needed. The proposals for the cabin/classroom and structures have been developed with animal experts, staff and local people:

  • Hardstanding areas are needed for animal welfare and will be tucked away towards the natural perimeter of the area which is surrounded by trees and hedges.
  • Structures such as the cabin will blend into their surroundings using living rooftops and bug habitats to provide foliage and cover as well as creating mini wildlife habitats.
  • Clever use of screening will minimise the visibility of the small car parking area.

Special features

After talking to community groups, the hospital’s day nursery and members of the public, a few ideas have already begun to form. These include:

  • Creating a woodland walk around the perimeter to make the most of the wildlife and natural fauna.
  • Building a wildlife habitat that will encourage hedgehogs, insects, bats and birds to flourish alongside the farm.
  • Introducing a butterfly aviary so that people of all ages can enjoy watching caterpillars metamorphose into butterflies which are then released into the wild.
  • More bird and bat boxes in the trees around the site.

The project team is really keen to hear more ideas and for local residents to get involved in planning and creating the spaces that they think will be most beneficial to their community and to local flora and fauna.

How will the farm be developed?

Although referred to as a farm, there is very little hard infrastructure required. Once planning permission is received, the team will work together to deliver the project in phases. The first phase will be to install a cabin/classroom and hardstanding areas on the site. The team plans to hold some community days to clear the site, create planters and plant fruit and vegetables.

By Spring 2022 it is hoped that a farm manager will be recruited to who will be responsible for ensuring the facility meets the Care Farming Code of Practice. It is hoped that a small number of pygmy goats could be introduced at this time.

During 2022, structured activities will be developed on the farm and more animals will be introduced to support the further development of animal assisted therapies.  

Frequently Asked Questions

How will the animals be cared for?

All of the partner organisations have recognised the need for a dedicated farm manager to ensure that animal and human welfare is paramount. The Code of Practice expects animals to have regular veterinary care and vaccinations and for living areas to meet rigorous standards.

Will the care farm be noisy?

We’ve spoken to some animal experts already and they don’t anticipate the small number of animals we’re talking about creating much noise. As it is not a large site, we would not expect there to be large numbers of people attending at one time, and most activity will happen during regular working hours. The area is surrounded by trees and hedges which will act as a sound barrier.

Will the care farm smell?

Outside of the farm we don’t anticipate there to be much smell, if any, because of the natural trees and hedges acting like a barrier around the site. On the site, we would expect those ‘natural’ smells that are associated with keeping animals and using soil and manure for growing produce.

Will the farm blend in to its surroundings?

We really want the farm to be an asset that the community will be able to use and benefit from so there will need to be a small number of structures on the site including a classroom/ cabin and some animal shelters. However, we will do our best to disguise these within the tree line and use living rooftops and bug habitats to reduce the visual impact of these on the land.

What will traffic be like?

In line with our commitment to environmental sustainability, we aim to promote walking, cycling and public transport. There will be a small amount of traffic from essential deliveries such as animal feed and hay, and we hope to provide  no more than five Blue Badge parking spaces to support us in making the farm more accessible.

How will the farm be kept secure?

We aim to take all reasonable precautions to ensure the farm is safe and crime or vandalism prevented. We are exploring options for vandal-proof structures and have considered how security can be maintained out of opening hours.

Will I still be able to walk my dog on that bit of land?

We absolutely welcome people to use the site as they wish with the usual proviso that any dog mess is picked up and disposed of appropriately and that dogs are kept on a lead once animals have been introduced to the site.

How can I get involved with the care farm and benefit from it?

You might like to get on board now and help us to plan and build it, or prefer to wait until it’s up and running and then consider accessing some of the wellbeing activities that our voluntary sector partners might offer.

We are holding an open afternoon on Saturday 20 November at the site from 10am – 1pm and all are welcome to join for a hot drink and a chat. Alternatively you can contact Emma or Fran for a further discussion about the proposals:

Emma Burley – emma.burley@project6.org.uk

Fran Hewitt – Francesca.hewitt@nhs.net

How will the project be funded?

We are looking at lots of funding options including applying for grants and working with partners across the area to identify resources. Airedale Hospital Charity and Project 6 will both be publishing online “wishlists” soon so that anyone can make a donation or buy an item for the farm.

If you are interested in fundraising for the farm or purchasing something from the wishlist please visit the hospital charity webpage on www.airedalecharity.org or the Project 6 website at www.project6.org.uk

I’m not sure about these plans, who can I discuss my concerns with?

Please contact Emma or Fran using the details above to arrange a conversation. We are very keen to ensure that we’ve considered the needs and preferences of all local residents and welcome your feedback.

What will the farm be called?

This is a community farm and as such we want to ensure that local people feel that they have a say in how it is developed and run – including its name! We welcome any ideas you have for naming the site.

Can I get more involved?

We are really keen to involve more local residents, community groups and organisations.

Organisations can become full delivery partners in the project, or work with the team to identify opportunities to use the site. There will be lots of scope for individuals or groups to get involved too – from helping prepare the land, to planting produce and helping create the wildlife habitat.

Please contact Emma or Fran to discuss further.

Emma Burley – emma.burley@project6.org.uk

Fran Hewitt – Francesca.hewitt@nhs.net

What happens next?

We are seeking people’s views on the idea of having the community care farm and the plans we have developed to date. Once feedback has been received we will review responses and use those to inform our plans before submitting an application for planning permission. We hope to receive a response to this early in the new year.

In the meantime, work will continue on planning the farm and the services it can deliver as well as our work to source funding to establish and operate the facility.

How to have your say

There are a number of ways that you can have your say. Complete the survey: https://projectsix.typeform.com/to/l6J3JNpO?typeform-source=email-button

If you would prefer to provide feedback by email please contact:

Emma Burley – emma.burley@project6.org.uk

Fran Hewitt – Francesca.hewitt@nhs.net

We are seeking initial feedback to inform the early designs by Sunday 28 November.

Write to:

  Airedale Care Farm c/o Chief Executive Airedale NHS Foundation Trust Airedale General Hospital Skipton Road Steeton BD20 6TD     Airedale Care Farm c/o Chief Executive Project 6 11-19 Temple St Keighley BD21 2AD