In February 2011, The Children’s Centre signed a lease for land and buildings as part of Carnane Estate on Douglas Head and embarked on the journey to create a Community Farm from scratch. With 10 acres of land and a variety of buildings, Wallberry Farm was an empty shell requiring months of work. Nigel and Chrissy were the first two people appointed to The Farm Team.
Nigel brings with him agricultural qualifications and experience, balanced with over twenty years experience of working with children and young people. Chrissy brings with her a flare for organisation and project planning with a practical farming background. Together, they spent the first 6 months getting the site fit for purpose and developing educational programmes for primary and secondary schools.
On average, The Farm hosts 16 groups every school year across a range of ages and abilities. Whilst working to ensure the highest possible quality of delivery and striving to meet the individuals’ challenges, there has always been a constant focus on development. The Community Farm will continue to develop and evolve with time – from the establishment and maintenance of sound farm infrastructure whilst incrementally introducing farm animals and growing space, to the development of a robust educational programme and reporting process as our client base develops.
In order to achieve this, The Farm Team has grown. Firstly, in 2012 two part-time staff joined the team; one with a particular focus and passion for horticulture, another with lots of experience of working with young people. Secondly, following the success of a funding bid to Manx Mencap in April 2013, The Farm has appointed a designated ‘Inclusion Officer’ to focus on developing the range of programmes at The Farm for people with disabilities. Finally, a Gap Scheme role was created to support the everyday running of The Farm, with the fundamental aim of encouraging a young person into the next phase of their adult career, education or training by developing their leadership, responsibility and initiative.