I have been at Little Gate Farm since September 2016 and I thought that I might share with you some of the experiences that I have had there starting with a typical day at the farm.
To get to Little Gate Farm I take the mini bus service that the farm provides. It mainly takes about an hour to an hour and a half from the time I am picked partly due to the distance to get to the farm but also factoring in the pickups of other work trainees. The mini bus arrives at the farm at 9.45am on average giving us about 45 minutes to prepare for a 10.30am start.
When we arrive at the farm everyone gets themselves ready by getting any gear they need on and providing time allows they get themselves a cup of tea or coffee. This is a time that I use to catch up with friends and make sure that I am ready to go when the activities start. At 10.20am we have a register for both work trainees and staff, and then we have the plan for the first half of the day read out so everyone knows where they are. At 10.30am we start.
The activities that there are to take part in a the farm vary and each work trainee has the option of what they would like to do and when the options are chosen, a plan will be made based on the choices of all of the work trainees which will be followed through for 8 weeks at which point close to the end of that period a new option sheet will be handed out to the work trainees and in time for a new plan to be made. I like the idea of being able to choose which activities that I do as I know there is possibility of doing something I like. Of all of the activities Woodland and Cooking are the ones that I prefer to do most due to practical nature of woodland and the learning to be independent from cooking. All though I have no problem of taking part in any of the others if doing something else is the decision made when the plan is done.
Some activities that work trainees can choose from are as follows:
- Horticulture which is all about working with plants and learning how to prepare and grow them over a period of time. The flowers that we grow go towards our cut flower project, where we sell the flowers to customers at our market when the time of year is good. This is also run by work trainees with a member of staff to help to help more with confidence, communicating with other people and learning money problem skills. I do enjoy being able to take part in this myself as it gives me the opportunity to help communicate with others and boost my confidence.
- Animals which involves feeding and cleaning the farm animals and their area in which they are kept and also leaning how to handle and look after the animals as well.
- Cooking which involves learning to cook a large variety of main meals and deserts which will be had at lunch time. This is ideal not only for if you want to work in catering but also so people know how to cook independently.
- Woodland which involves primarily the management of the woodland areas on the farm and the process of charcoal production and log gathering as products from coppicing of the trees. Also involved in this area is crafts that uses wood from on the farm and repairs around the farm as well. I myself have had a lot of involvement with the charcoal production as I was employed by the farm to make some for 2 years. Stay tuned for more on this in a future blog.
- Workshops which is a group activity that involves learning about a new skill that can help the work trainees all throughout their life as well as just in work. This could range from managing anxiety to simple structure building of day to day activities to time keeping.
These morning activities last for 2 hours and then at 12.30pm is lunch until 1.30pm. For lunch work trainees could either bring their own packed lunch or they could have a cooked lunch that is made by the catering team in the morning. I have been involved in cooking some meals and some desserts at the farm but also, I have had a few that I enjoyed even though I wasn’t cooking at the time. Examples of these are chicken kievs, fajitas, roast dinner, breaded butter pudding and banana cake. At 1.20pm all work trainees and staff will be called for a second afternoon registration and also to go through what they will be doing as their afternoon activity.
The activities will be from the same list as before and will like wise last for 2 hours for a 3.30pm finish. Once it gets to 3.30pm all work trainees and staff will stop activities and tidy up and then make their way back to the Log Cabin. The work trainees will then do end of day jobs that they have previously chosen at the start of the day or at lunch time to help keep the area cleared for the next day. At 4.00pm most people are tired and so for us this is the end of the day. Everyone will make their way back to the mini bus or cars and start their journey home. It is not uncommon for some people to fall asleep on the way back home after the days work.
Make sure you keep an eye out for more of Patrick’s work!