Towards the end of last year, we visited Jamie’s Farm, a traditional red brick farmhouse in the picturesque Sussex countryside just outside Lewes.
Jamie’s Farm in Lewes is no ordinary farm. It is one of a group of similar farms across the country that transform the lives of vulnerable children between the ages of 10-16 by working closely with partner schools, providing a combination of ‘farming, family and therapy’ through a unique residential and follow-up programme.
The goal of Jamie’s Farm is to ‘re-engage children with educational life and enable them to fulfil their potential both in school and the wider social setting’. It acts as a catalyst for change, enabling disadvantaged young people to thrive academically, socially and emotionally.
Social and academic exclusion are real problems affecting young people in the UK today. There are worries about the effects of children becoming disconnected from their natural surroundings, especially those from BAME or low-income families.
In a report from Jamie’s Farm, one young person from a local college said, “In a normal week, I just stay inside, but here I get to be outside, help out the animals, and be active. It’s taught me the importance of good teamwork and communication.”
As a society, our growing relationship with technology can play havoc with our connection to nature and each other and Jamie’s Farm tackles this by asking their young visitors to leave their phones at home, instead opting for communal co-operative and nature-based activities such as farm work, gardening, group walks over the downs, caring for the farms’ animals and playing music together around a campfire.
Jamie’s Visitors come from diverse backgrounds, and guests are invited to cook healthy home-cooked meals together in the cosy farmhouse. Recipe ideas from home are welcomed, contributing to a really healthy cross-cultural and all-inclusive environment. The visits are also a valuable opportunity for teachers to get away from the stresses of everyday life and form better relationships with individual students and the entire group, outside the formal school setting.
Through other funding opportunities, the farm has also taken a more regenerative farming approach by adopting a rotational cropping regime and planting 1,500 metres of new hedges to support local habitat.
Enjoolata Foundation awarded £10,000 to Jamie’s Farm in April 2021 to convert a disused ‘duck house’ farm building into a multi-purpose space that will be used for one to one meetings and group sessions. It will transform visits for many of the young people who visit, offering a safe and inviting space to discuss any issues that arise. The new building will be completed later this year.
When not being used for visits, all farmhouses can be rented for holidays. This allows the farms to contribute towards the finances of the charity and allows anyone to take a rural break that also gives back!
To find out more, visit Jamie’s Farm website.