Connecting with nature

News Posted 22/09/21
Surrey nurture farm which helps children connect with nature secures CLA Charitable Trust funding.

A nurture farm in Surrey which helps children connect with nature has been awarded nearly £4,000 from the CLA Charitable Trust (CLACT) to help with its running costs.

The Trust is funded almost entirely by subscriptions and donations from members of the CLA, an organisation which represents nearly 30,000 farmers, landowners and rural businesses.

It provides grants to charities and community organisations across England and Wales who share its vision to help connect young people who are disabled or disadvantaged with the countryside.

Huckleberries Nurture Farm CIC, based near Elstead, Surrey, is among the groups to successfully apply for funding. It has been awarded £3,950 to help cover running costs such as bedding, animal feed and veterinary care.

Children are usually referred to Huckleberries, which was established in 2019, because they need extra support in their social or emotional well-being, which may exhibit as anxiety, low emotional resilience, self-esteem or self-worth, worries or self-harm. From June 2020 to April 2021, it worked with 81 children from seven schools, providing 2,528 hours of therapeutic care and also offers volunteering experience for Duke of Edinburgh participants.

Farm animals, nature immersion and well-being techniques such as yoga, mindfulness, growing and art are used to encourage children to be curious, take risks and learn resilience.

Director Beverley Cook said: “The generous grant award will have a big impact on Huckleberries. It represents a significant amount of our animal feed, bedding and veterinary care costs, which we currently fund through small grant applications or direct fundraising, which takes up a lot of time.

“Whilst we’ve been fortunate to receive funding to cover capital and many operational costs, this excludes anything relating to animal welfare, leaving a ‘hungry gap’ in our accounts. This support will enable us to focus on our strategic growth which will benefit more children – such as developing and securing funding for a second Nurture Group beyond its pilot phase this term, collaborating with others to establish a social prescribing offer through GPs or social care, and exploring research partnerships to share our learning on the benefits of the countryside on child mental health.

“In a small organisation like Huckleberries everything is interconnected and feeding the goats for two years really does have a direct impact on the children’s wellbeing, so thank you from all of us.”

Bridget Biddell, Chairman of CLACT, said: “Huckleberries Nurture Farm provides a very special place for young people, aged six to nine, to be nurtured in an environment outside of school.

“Nature, wildlife and animals combined with the care and skill of the Huckleberries team provides critical and successful support for the young people.

“I am delighted that the CLACT has been able to support the running costs of this organisation.”

One parent of a child who had been to Huckleberries said: “She has experienced such freedom and joy during the sessions. I’ve seen her light turn back on.”

Since its foundation in 1980, the trust has given more than £1.9m in grants to a wide variety of organisations and projects. If you would like to know more about applying for funding, or to donate, visit https://www.cla.org.uk/about-cla/charitable-trust/


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