The value and relevance of care farms to positive health and well being

Beans, carrots and other farm produce
A large goat
Doeke Dobma
Harvested beetroot
Chicken houses

Clinks care farm
Monday 1st November 2010 

Based near Beccles, Clinks Care farm has recently been opened by Doeke Dobma and his wife. Norfolk is the second county to support usage of council farm buildings and land for social, health and community needs. (The first was Cornwall). Doeke has been actively involved with care farming in the area for over 6 years and has worked for the Waveney Health Trust. There are 1,000 care farms in Holland and 10,000 people participate in the running of them. In the UK there are 70 care farms to date. 

Clinks care farm has a market garden area of 1.5 acres and a 4 acre field and were harvesting beetroot at the time of the visit. They sell to local farm shops and give crops to volunteers and workers. There were 8-10 people at the farm, plus 2 council builders preparing the ground for the log cabin offices and workshops planned to open in  Spring 2011. 

Of these 8-10 people there were 2 staff, 2 volunteers and 4 referred volunteers who had learning needs, dementia or autism. Doeke believes that working together, having a purpose and being outside have very positive affects mentally on volunteers such as Malcolm. Malcolm is 65 years old and lives in a residential care home and comes to Clinks farm once a week, he is very knowledgeable about market gardening and encouraged the group to press the apples that were growing in their orchard, he said to me that Clinks Farm is, ‘The best thing that ever happened to me’. 

Plans for the future include the log cabin, opening up the site to local schools (contacts with Cleveland and Felton schools have already been made), having HLS status-permissive paths, introducing cooking sessions and highlighting the value and relevance of care farms to positive health and well being.