On 6 and 7 November 2016 a kick off meeting with partners under the project “Social Farming Social Impact” took place in the UK.
The first visit of the group of representative of all five partners in project was to Woodhouse Farm and Garden. They visited the farm, which hosts projects for people who have experienced domestic abuse or were part of The Building Resilient Families and Communities project. The latter tackles social isolation, encourages healthier lifestyles and runs Grow It Cook It Eat It Projects.
Next visit was to Oak Tree Rural Project at Hilderstone, where partners also had lunch in the social enterprise cafe. The members of the project grow fruit, salads and vegetables, which are used to prepare and offer lunch menu. They also produce pottery, which is very popular. The project provides opportunities for adults with learning disabilities and safeguarding vulnerable adults is the biggest challenge of the project team. The community people love to visit, but there is sadly a need to keep the general public and a vulnerable group separate.
In Birmingham City Centre partners visited the Social Enterprise Garden Centre run by BiTA Pathways- a mental health charity who run a garden centre, factory unit and a textile workshop. Their challenge is creating long term sustainable funding from social enterprise activities balanced with the health care needs and capabilities of their groups.
The last visit of the first day was the Donkey Sanctuary in Sutton Park, where partners learnt about the process of change from doing riding activities for the disabled to therapeutic activities with different groups. They are particularly interested in working with victims of trafficking. They are experiencing challenges with this change as schools have enjoyed visiting to ride the donkeys. It is an exciting time for them though and they will be able to reach so many more people this way.
During the second day of the visit partners visited The WELLIES Project at Sudbury and the groupd participated in the delivery of presentations from each partner about their organisation, their country and their experiences. Presentations were followed by a Ploughmans Lunch cooked and prepared by the group.