26 May 1995

Therapy in farm work

THRIFT Farm has an enthusiastic workforce.

About 60 people report for duty each week at the 21ha (52-acre) holding at Whaddon, near Milton Keynes, and are often joined by children and adults from local schools and day centres.

The farm is run by Bucks County Council Social Services and gives adults with a learning disability experience and responsibility in running both the farm and its horticultural enterprises.

There are two livestock units, two horticultural ones and a garden contract unit, each managed by a member of staff. The work programmes for the clients, as the workers are called, rotate round all the units.

Livestock includes a 35-strong herd of pedigree Herefords, a flock of Suffolk sheep, 100 free range hens and a miscellany of small animals such as rabbits and aviary birds.

The horticulture unit with 700sq m of glass produces bedding plants and vegetables in summer and houseplants and bulbs in winter. Trees, shrubs, herbs and perennials are produced in the nursery and the garden contract unit tackles a variety of off-farm jobs – from churchyard maintenance to garden landscaping.

The farms shop opens five days a week for the sale of plants, vegetables and eggs, and should be especially busy on Jun 15, the date of Thrift Farms open day.

Staff members and clients round up the pedigree Suffolk ewes and their January-born lambs.

Clients helping livestock staff member Andrew Dutton to trim a ewes feet and (below) pricking out bedding plants which will be sold in the shop.