Why a Care Farm?

The Cafs Care Farm is a vital and necessary service for Ballarat and the surrounding community.

It is based on the premise that there are distinct benefits from a combination of access to the natural environment, meaningful activities, social interaction and exercise.

We know from experience and history that the old ways of approaching entrenched social issues do not work.

This is reflected in:

  • Increased numbers of children living away from home and family,

  • Increased numbers of children reported to the child protection system, and

  • Poor engagement of many children with school.

Therefore we need to reach out and help children and families in different ways.

To meet this need the Cafs Care Farm will be a therapeutic environment supporting at risk and vulnerable children and families in the Ballarat region.

It will be based around individual psychological assessments using the Neurosequential Model of Therapy (NMT) and targeted interventions based on that analysis. NMT is an advanced diagnostic tool and was developed by Dr. Bruce Perry from the ChildTrauma Academy in Houston, US.

Individual plans could include:

  • Art therapy,

  • Animal assisted interventions,

  • Individual therapy/counselling, and
  • Gardening/horticulture.

The Cafs Care Farm will focus on the wellbeing of at risk and vulnerable children and families.

It will provide a range of social and educational services with an emphasis on:

  • Providing early help and intervention to help prevent future problems,

  • Targeted support for those with specific needs, and

  • Helping those who require enduring support.

We aim to partner with leading universities to evaluate our programs and services.

Some of our existing programs will be relocated to the Care Farm at Springmount, where we will also be launching and developing new programs based around the natural environment, animals and green exercise.

The Cafs Care Farm will help children and families to feel well and stay well.

In 2017 I was fortunate to be able to visit a number of care farms overseas and saw the benefits of Care Farming in England, Scotland and Ireland.

There are many more steps yet to be taken. We are rigorously planning the evolution of our services and programs we will offer at the Care Farm, with a view to closely linking our clients and their families to different elements of the Farm itself.

  • Cloughjordan Community Farm

    Cloughjordan Community Farm is a cross-community initiative in Cloughjordan, County Tipperary, Ireland, founded in August 2008. The farm is spread over 40 acres, and aims to produce the highest quality, nutritionally dense vegetables, while also reducing the environmental impact of food production. The produce grown is distributed to members of the farm, in the local area.

  • Cyrenians Farm

    The Cyrenians Farm is a social enterprise located just outside Edinburgh. It’s a working farm producing fruit, vegetables and eggs; it’s also home to a community of vulnerable young people, many with experience of homelessness. The Farm grows food and provides a range of opportunities for individuals to develop skills and confidence as a step towards a settled lifestyle.

  • Camphill Community Farm

    The Camphill Community Farm is located in Grange Beg, County Kildare, Ireland. The majority of their resources are devoted to the upkeep of the garden and farmland, as many people in the area find connecting to the land and animals rewarding and therapeutic. The farm produces organic meat and vegetables that are enjoyed by the local community and wider region.

  • Hereford Community Farm

    The Hereford Community Farm, in Hereford, UK, provides inclusive therapeutic land-based activities and skills training for people who are disadvantaged through disability, ill health, social need and other conditions. Available activities include woodworking, horticulture, arts and crafts, cooking, animal assisted interventions, and equine assisted learning.

  • Jamie’s Farm

    Jamie’s Farm has a unique residential experience aimed at enabling disadvantaged young people to thrive academically, socially and emotionally. Delivered through a ‘farming, family and therapy’ formula, Jamie’s provides a preventative solution that empowers young people to change course. With headquarters in Wiltshire, Jamie’s Farm has locations in Hereford, Bath, Monmouth, Waterloo and Lewes. They work in partnership with schools in across the United Kingdom to equip vulnerable children to thrive during their secondary school years.

  • Wythenshawe Community Farm

    Wythenshawe Community Farm was introduced in 1984 and forms part of 109 hectare Wythenshawe Park, near Manchester, UK. The Farm offers an opportunity for children to learn about where food comes from, and see elements of a working country farm in an urban setting. The Farm features an extensive breeding programme with sheep, goats, pigs, ducks, horses and a herd of prize-winning Hereford cattle. A range of local produce is sold in a shop on the Farm.

    It was a privilege to see caring and compassionate people achieving great outcomes for their various client groups.

    At one farm we were told the story of a young girl who suffered from chronic anxiety and had poor social skills. She was without confidence. Following a period of animal assisted intervention, the young woman improved her social skills and gained the confidence to be able to study at university.

    I am aware also that US research shows that experiencing and interacting with the natural environment can improve mental wellbeing and social interactions.

    Care Farming can also reduce anxiety and depression for people with mental health issues, increase life skills and social interaction for people with learning difficulties, and have positive behavioural impacts including reduced police contact and drug use among young people.

    On my return from overseas I recommended to the Cafs Board of Governance that we proceed with our plans to set up a therapeutic farm.

    I saw nothing overseas that Cafs could not do, and I argued that Cafs was better placed than any agency I saw to champion this concept.

    My presentation to the Cafs Board of Governance regarding the Cafs Care Farm began with the words “Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it; boldness has genius power and magic in it”.

    The Cafs Care Farm is a bold adventure. It is exciting. It has enormous potential to produce better outcomes for children and families in this region.

    It will provide opportunities for vulnerable and at risk children and families to feel well, stay well and become engaged in their community.

    I hope that for many it will provide the foundations for a successful life.

    Allan Joy
    Chief Executive Officer