A vision for the future of Stirley Farm

Rob Stoneman presenting the first prize in the drawing competition

Listen to an audio introduction to Stirley Farm

Listen to Rob Stoneman, chief executive of the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, talking about Living Landscapes and our shared vision for the future of Stirley Farm. Recorded at the Stirley Community Farm Open Day on Sunday 4th September 2011.

First prize in the drawing competition – Emily’s vision for Stirley Farm

More about the Open Day:
Stirley Open Day – 10 favourite things

Allotment inspections – yea or nay?

I was contacted this week by someone who’s concerned about the new six-weekly allotment inspections by Kirklees Council. I was a bit surprised by this, as I know that lots of people think these inspections are a very good idea. Having seen many people be unable to get a local allotment plot in recent years, I tend to think that the council are right to check that allotments are being put to good use.

However, this week I also realised how worrying it must be for some allotment gardeners to find out that they’re suddenly going to be inspected – because people who care about their allotments obviously don’t want to feel like they might lose them.

To help set people’s minds at rest, I’ve checked with Julian Faulkner from Kirklees Council. He’s confirmed that the inspections are just to make sure that people are using their plots rather than letting them lie dormant. This is so that plots can be offered to other people if they’re not being used – so it’s aimed at helping people who want to grow their own food and is nothing for most growers to worry about.

Julian’s advice is to check your tenancy agreement to see what’s expected of you. As a rough guide, the council will check to see that each plot is cultivated (dug and prepared at this time of year and growing crops during the main season). Plots should be tidy with no articles or materials except those that will be used in the growing of crops on site (no piles of rubbish, timber etc).

He’s also sent us a list of common conditions for allotment sites, which you might find useful:

Dos and Don’ts – Conditions for having your allotment garden (pdf)

For the latest information about the council’s work to improve local allotments, see:

More allotment improvements in Kirklees – Kirklees Council online news

Stirley Farm – Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s newest venture

This spring the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust are starting work at Stirley Farm with funding from a National Lottery Local Food grant, to help get the farm up and running and encourage more people to grow and eat local food. Support and enthusiasm from Newsome residents played a large part in securing the funding for the Lottery Grant.

A team of Future Jobs Fund trainees, led by Dave Parkinson, have worked hard to clear and improve the farm buildings and facilities. During half term, the team helped spring clean the veg gardens of the High School, Hillside Primary and Berry Brow Flats.

Ian Smart is the Farm Manager who joined Stirley Farm from a similar project in Dorset, where careful management of meadows allowed wildlife to flourish. He has started repairing fences and walls at the Berry Brow end of the 250 acre farm. It is hoped that a few beef cattle will be able to graze there later this year. Ian is looking for volunteers to help make the farm habitable for livestock and improve the farm buildings so any volunteers who are eager to lend a hand with practical work and building are most welcome.

Kim Warren is the Food Education Officer, who will be available to assist and support food growing projects both in the community and on the farm. A series of vegetable plots have been dug at Stirley, which will provide training and demonstration areas for individuals and groups who want to learn more about growing their own food.

Next year an orchard will be planted and the back garden of the farmhouse will become an example of how gardens can be great for wildlife, people and growing your own food. Volunteers with green fingers and absolute beginners alike are welcome to join Kim at Stirley.

Dave Parkinson, Kim Warren and Ian Smart

How to contact staff, or get involved:
Kim Warren, tel. 07557 002 113 or email: kim.warren@ywt.org.uk
Ian Smart, tel. 07557 002 112 or email: ian.smart@ywt.org.uk

Find out more at: www.ywt.org.uk/stirley_farm.php

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:

http://www.ywt.org.uk/job_vacancies.php

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: alex.foster@kirklees.gov.uk 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.

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