Stirley Farm – work expected to start soon

Good news for those of you who support Stirley Farm….

We’re delighted to say that the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s plans to develop Stirley Farm are very close to becoming a reality. Pending final approval by Kirklees Council’s Cabinet, work will begin on converting the farm buildings this Autumn.

Growing Newsome are very happy to be a partner in this exciting new project.

If everything goes to plan, the new ‘Stirley Community Farm’ will see 100 hectares of farmland bordering Newsome village, Hall Bower, Berry Brow, Almondbury, Netherton and Honley used for producing local food. The farm buildings will be renovated by the Trust, with the old barn being converted into an education centre. Work on the buildings is due to start in October 2010.

The Yorkshire Wildlife Trust will be employing a Farm Enterprise Manager and a Food Education and Training Officer to work at Stirley Farm. The closing date for job applications is 27th October 2010. The job vacancies are advertised at:

Workers to help renovate the farm buildings will be recruited via the Future Jobs Fund. There will also be lots of opportunities for local volunteers.

The farm will feature an organic beef farming operation and a farm shop. It will also be the venue for an annual Newsome food festival and for ongoing activities to help people learn how to grow their own food. There will be a range of other community activities at the farm, including guided walks, wildlife conservation and environmental events.

We’re looking forward to working with the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust on this project.

Please note: Although we have the Trust’s permission to share this information with our members, we’ve been asked to wait until the final Cabinet approval comes through before promoting the project more widely – we’ll let you know as soon as we have more information.

Allotments available at Hey Lane

Kirklees Council have refurbished some more allotment plots in the Newsome Ward. The Hey Lane allotments in Lowerhouses have been cleared and a new water supply has now been installed. Council officers have already contacted a couple of people who had their names down for a plot at Hey Lane, but they expect there to be 3 or 4 more plots still available after these have been let.

If anybody is interested in an allotment plot at Hey Lane, please contact Alex Foster. Email: or call the Allotments team on 01484 234021.

You can also get in touch to put your name on the waiting list for other sites.

Stirley Farm consultation results

In 2009 the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust asked local residents for our views about restoring the buildings at Stirley Farm and providing a range of community-based services at the farm. They worked with research company Information by Design (IbyD), who previously worked with Newsome residents on the ‘Grow your own food in Newsome‘ survey.

IbyD ran a door-to-door survey in Newsome, Hall Bower, Netherton, Honley and Almondbury, which are the areas around the Stirley farm site. In total, 519 questionnaires were completed.  Of these, 401 were completed via face-to-face interviews and 118 were completed online.

The survey results show that local residents are very supportive of the proposals for Stirley Farm, and a third of the respondents (33%) said that they would be ‘very likely’ to attend activities about food growing at the farm.

Summary of the survey results

• Overall, just under half (48%) of residents in the consultation reported that they had heard of Stirley Farm before completing the questionnaire, and of these, almost all (93%) claimed to know where Stirley Farm was geographically.

• Overall, almost a half of residents (48%) used the land belonging to Stirley Farm a lot or a little.  Those living close to Stirley Farm (for example in Hall Bower) were more likely to say they used the land a lot or a little.

• 62% of respondents from the least affluent areas said they used the land belonging to Stirley Farm ‘a lot’ or ‘a little’.

• Respondents indicated that they commonly make use of the Castle Hill area: roughly three-quarters (76%) of them said that they visit Castle Hill at least once a year.

• Almost all (98%) of the residents said that they would either ‘support the restoration a lot’ (76%) or ‘support the restoration a little’ (22%).  There was only a small difference in the level of support for the restoration of Stirley Farm between those living in areas of high and low deprivation – 80% of respondents from areas of low deprivation said they ‘would support the restoration a lot’ in comparison to 76% of respondents from the least affluent areas.

• A large proportion of all residents (89%) stated that they thought that Stirley Farm was either in a ‘very good’ (57%) or a ‘fairly good’ (32%) location in regards to access from the surrounding communities.

• There was a strong indication that several of the services proposed in the consultation were in high demand amongst residents.  For example, roughly half of the residents consulted said they ‘definitely would use’ self-guided or guided trails, wildlife conservation, walks in the countryside, and a farm shop.

• Residents included in the consultation were generally positive about attending various ‘educational’ activities if they were provided at Stirley Farm.  For example, a third (33%) indicated that they would be ‘very likely’ to attend activities about growing food at the farm.

• 92% of residents said they ‘strongly agree’ that Stirley Farm should be entirely self-sustainable.

• There was some consensus amongst residents completing the survey that ‘Area C’ on the map shown to residents (see Appendix 3 in the full report) was a preferable location for an allotment area to be established.

• Less than a third (30%) of all residents said that they would be either ‘very likely’ (11%) or ‘fairly likely’ (19%) to use gardening equipment provided by Stirley Farm if an allotment area was made available.

• 72% of all residents said they would ‘definitely’ (23%) or ‘probably’ (49%) like to buy more organic food.  Of these, over two-thirds (71%) said they would be ‘very likely’ (37%) or ‘fairly likely’ (34%) to buy organic beef produced at Stirley Farm.

• Almost three quarters of those residents who said they would like to buy more organic food pointed out that they would be willing to pay ‘a little more’ for organic beef from Stirley Farm than they usually pay for normal beef, while 10% said they would be happy to pay ‘a lot more’.

• Almost a third (31%) of all residents stated that they would be either ‘very likely’ (9%) or ‘fairly likely’ (22%) to volunteer at Stirley Farm.  The most popular aspects which these residents said they would like to volunteer to help in were ‘nature conservation’, ‘wildlife recording’ and ‘education’.

• Roughly a quarter of all residents consulted said that the provision of ‘training schemes’ would make people most likely to volunteer.

Full report

You can also read or download the full survey report here:

Stirley Farm Consultation – Final Report, March 2010 (pdf)

Growing ideas at Castle Grange

We recently visited Castle Grange on Ing Lane, where we had a look around the grounds with Lou and Claire. Castle Grange is a care home for people with dementia, with an enclosed garden where the residents can sit outside. When nearby Headfield Road was widened to make room for the new school, the care home lost a strip of land that was part of their garden. In exchange, they’ve now been given some extra land at the side of Castle Grange, which will be leveled soon to make it easier for the residents to use.

The staff would like to use this patch of land to provide some food growing activities for the people who live at Castle Grange, and to involve the local community too. 

We had an interesting talk about how food can help to spark memories for people with dementia – anything from the aroma of herbs to the crunch of a stick of celery. It really made us think in a different way about the value of growing food and the impact that it can have on people’s well-being. Of course, we’d like to do what we can to help.

We will try to help the staff at Castle Grange with planning the space (which needs to be safe for the residents), with applying for funding if needed, and for getting things up and running. We’re also looking for some people who might like to help Lou and Claire to organise some planting activities there. Any help that you can offer will be greatly appreciated – it really could help to improve people’s lives.

If you’d like to help with food growing at Castle Grange, or if you’re just interested in finding out a bit more, please use our contact form to let us know.

Breaking new ground on the community allotment

On Easter Saturday 2010 our community allotment got under way. Eight of us turned up for the initial meeting, to talk about both the practicalities and our aspirations. Some of us had never met before, so more than anything this first day was about making new friends. We quickly decided that all the areas on the allotment will be shared between us, and we talked about what we’d like to grow. Pat brought along some Jerusalem artichokes and tomato seeds, and Ruth offered some raspberry canes from her garden – so before we even arrived at the allotment site, the sharing had already begun.

We started dividing up some of the urgent jobs (such as getting a shed to hold our community tool bank), and we talked about how people want to participate. Some of us will help with the organising and getting supplies, others will garden on the allotment at whatever time suits them. Some people are able to visit the allotment during the week, and for the rest of us we might try to meet up regularly on weekends or during the summer evenings.

We’ve decided to aim for an organic allotment, and we’re lucky to have expert advice available from Rob, who used to be an organic farmer in Canada and now lives in Newsome. He’s one of several people who have offered to help that couldn’t be there for the first meeting, and we hope to catch up with everyone who is interested soon.

News to me was that the plot boundaries have been shifted around a bit since we picked up the keys, so as well as our wonderful wonky A-frame glasshouse, we have now inherited an old grape vine and its little abode. This is yet more broken glass to replace, and something else for us to learn. With my fondness for old bits of wood, I am of course delighted. Hands up who knows how to tend a grape vine…

Once we got to the site, we set about planting some potatoes that were left over from our Spring event, kindly bought for us by Information by Design (IbyD). I’ve since realised just how appropriate it is that the first things we planted on our community allotment were supplied by IbyD, who are the research company that helped us to run the ‘Grow your own food in Newsome’ survey that told us how much demand there is for allotments in Newsome. Steve Wisher, these potatoes are dedicated to you.

As usual, this particular Growing Newsome escapade was both fun and thought-provoking. I found out about the perils of couch grass, the difficulties of getting claggy soil off your wellies, and the vital importance of bits of string. I also discovered that I’m not the only person in Newsome who uses their underfloor heating to propagate seeds.

We all pitched in to establish the boundary of our allotment and to get three row of potatoes in. I think it’s fair to say that the soil was not very co-operative (Cherry aptly said it was what her mother would call “diggin’ pudden”), but we persevered.

It’s clear that we’ll need a lot of patience to turn this sticky patch of earth into something that we can all be proud of, and we’d really like to hear from you if you’d like to help – you can use the contact page on this site to get in touch.

The lost gardens of Newsome

You can find all sorts underneath a tangle of brambles, if you make a bit of effort to look.

On Saturday 20th February 2010 we found a whole garden underneath some brambles, and we’ve taken the first step towards reclaiming this lost garden so that it can be used for food growing.

The garden’s owner gradually lost the garden to the brambles which crept in steadily over the back fence and kept on going until they reached the house. Although she used to grow thriving flowers there, the task of sorting out the tangle eventually became too overwhelming for her to deal with. 

So she kindly offered her garden to Newsome Ward Community Forum, in the hopes that someone else can make good use of it to grow their own food. There is land like this all over Newsome – it’s a lost treasure waiting to be reclaimed.

Just looking at the bramble patch probably made this garden’s owner feel daunted – and we felt the same when we arrived there on a cold February morning. So we did the only thing we could… started at one end and carried on until we reached the fence at the far end.

It took two just hours for us to uncover the garden, reversing the journey that the brambles had made over the years.

Eleven of us turned up to work on the garden, including several members of Newsome Ward Timebanking.

We were also joined for a while by a group of environmental students from Leeds University who were on a field trip to look at sustainable living projects in Huddersfield.  We’d like to thank them for their interest in Growing Newsome, and for mucking in to help us round up the brambles.

Between us, we discovered a lot in a couple of hours.

What we found underneath the brambles was:

a garden, an odd plant pot or two, a collection of balls (in varying states of decay), a tree, some snowdrops and a robin. We also found that overwhelming tasks are not impossible if you have someone to help. We shared experiences about food growing. We talked about what we might do in the future. 

Under those brambles, we also found ideas, new friends and a bit of inspiration.

Please contact us if you’re interested in sharing your garden, if you’re looking for somewhere in Newsome to grow food, of if you’d like to take part in future activities.

Read Andrew’s blog about the day: Reasons to be cheerful…

Allotments funding bears fruit

In Newsome we’re already seeing the benefits of the £1 million investment that Kirklees Council are making to improve allotment sites across Kirklees.

Community allotment

The Ashenhurst Avenue site has now been cleared and prepared for use. New fencing has been put up around the site, the drainage has been improved, and there’s now a walkway through the middle of the site to improve access. Some final work is being done to further improve the drainage, then people on the waiting list for Ashenhurst will get their new plots.

We were delighted to pick up the keys to our new community allotment site there on Friday 5th February. It’s almost a year exactly since we started our Newsome food growing project, so this is a great way to celebrate.

At our events last year, many Newsome residents found out about allotments in the area for the first time, and we were able to get them onto the waiting list for the improved sites. It’s fantastic to now see those same people getting their plots and planning for the growing year ahead. Maybe you are one of those people? Please keep in touch and let us know how it’s going – you might even inspire someone else to give it a try.

Malvern Road allotments

Malvern Road allotments were also renovated last year, and some of our members are already preparing their plots. If you’d like an allotment but feel a bit daunted, why not follow Andrew and Graham’s example by getting a plot to share? You are also very welcome to come and use the community allotment at Ashenhurst – please get in touch if you’d like to get involved.

Contact us.

Community Garden – Occupation Road

herb planter

herb planter

There’s now a Community Garden on Occupation Road (off the top of Lockwood Scar, behind Towngate), which anyone who lives nearby is welcome to use. We’ve started things off by planting some Autumn / Winter vegetables and some hardy herbs. If you see anything growing there that you’d like to eat, please feel free to pick it. You can also add your own plants to the garden. Another large planter will be available soon.

beanseeds-smallMost of the plants came from Colne Valley Garden Centre. We’d like to say thank you to their staff for kindly donating some vegetable seeds to support the work of Growing Newsome.

Thank you also to David Browning, who donated some strawberry plants from his allotment, and to Mr Charlesworth who helped us with the watering.


This land was previously overgrown and unusable. Members of Newsome Ward Timebanking helped to turn the site into a community garden. Can you think of other places that we can work together to improve? If you know of any spare land in Newsome that could be used for growing food, please contact us.

Hart Street allotments – planning appeal dismissed


Hart Street allotments

Hart Street allotments

The planning appeal for building housing on Newsome Mill Ponds and the former Hart Street allotments has been refused. This is fantastic news for all the local campaigners who would like to see this valuable open space put back into productive use for the benefit of Newsome residents. 



The planning inspector said in his report:


“the loss of previously undeveloped open land resulting from the proposal would have an unacceptable impact on the character and appearance of the area.”


Thank you to everyone who wrote letters in support of the Hart Street  site. Newsome Ward Community Forum’s work to try and secure this land for community use can now resume. We hope that one day there will be a thriving community allotment at Hart Street, right at the heart of Newsome.


In the meantime, watch out for those blackberries which are fast ripening on the site…


Hart Street planning appeal decision (pdf)

Stirley Farm consultation

farm buildings

farm buildings

The Yorkshire Wildlife Trust plan to restore Stirley Farm and to provide a range of community-based services there.


Stirley Farm consists of a farmhouse, barns and outbuildings. It is situated just west of Castle Hill but its land stretches all the way over to Newsome, Almondbury and Honley.





In the past, the farm was used for dairy farming, but it has been vacant for a number of years and now it has become run down.


The Yorkshire Wildlife Trust is working with Kirklees Council and local residents (via Newsome Ward Community Forum) to develop plans to restore the farm and some of its surrounding land.





The idea is to get it up-and-running as a community farm and open it up to the public, offering a range of community-based, community-run facilities for the benefit of local residents.


The plans are not yet decided and the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust would like to know your views on what you think is needed or what you would want to see put into the restoration of Stirley Farm.


To take part in the consultation, please visit:


(consultation closes at 9am on Thursday 27th August 2009)

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