Findings from visit to Reach Academy Feltham Farm – 16.03.18
Background & Rationale
LFA is interested in developing La Fontaine Farm as part of our village. This farm will enrich the lives our children and could serve as a wider community asset and low-level income generator. It could also enable LFA to deliver parts of the national curriculum in a practical, creative manner.
Laura Vallerius and Tanya Stevens visited Reach Academy Feltham, a 6-year-old all-through Academy that created a similar farm after moving to its new school site three years ago. We met with Karen Howard, Feltham’s Attendance & Family and Community Support Officer.
Summary findings / suggestions
1. Grant funding is the best way to get this off the ground. Big Lottery, corporate partnerships and South-East Community Trusts should be explored.
2. We should ensure parents will actively engage/volunteer with this to keep it running – does the appetite exist? Volunteers provide important ‘hands on deck’ for the farm, particularly at weekends.
3. Financial costs for running the farm are not prohibitive, particularly if we focus on vegetables, wildflowers, bees, hens and petting animals. Staff costs to run the project are its biggest cost, but could perhaps be partially recovered by grant funding.
4. A community engagement officer and/or farm manager will be essential to managing the farm day to day. The former role could facilitate wider student support and community initiatives. Feltham employs a Karen for £25,0000 per year and she is supported by a colleague on a similar salary package. Total salary cost circa £50,000/year. They also manage the hiring of facilities, rota of farm maintenance, adult education classes and meetings listening to parental concerns.
5. Feltham’s grant ‘ask’ was built around creating accessible green space to its families, many of whom are flat-based and may not have this access. The angle of LFA’s ‘ask’ would be different and should be carefully through, perhaps focusing on the building a village and active citizenship angles.
Features of Feltham Farm
-circa 1 acre in size at present
-8 large vegetable beds
-petting animals: guinea pigs and rabbits (cheap to purchase and upkeep)
-large chicken coop with 20 hens (chickens cost £10 each, are low maintenance and last for 2 years)
-pig pen with up to six pigs (sold in pairs, expensive & smelly; £500 to take to slaughter and require vehicular access)
• Probably not suitable for LFA
-trees from the Woodland Trust
-plans to develop a wildflower garden and keep bees
-wood and tyre play features
-African garden, built in partnership with charity Send a Cow – interesting development / citizenship angle
-Parent volunteers are managed through a volunteer rota. They don’t have a written ‘farm guidelines’ manual for volunteers, but we thought this could be a good idea.
Funding and Running Costs
-Initial set up funded by grant applications: £30,000 from Heathrow Community Trust, additional funding from Tesco and Greggs social impact schemes
-Boardman and Gelly helped with the farm design and continue to provide its animals;
-Beg, borrow and steal! Received wood and tyre donations. Tractor tyre and seed donations. Approached local farms and garden centres. Requested wood and garden tool donations from parents.
-Karen and her colleague run the farm and wider community initiatives. Their combined salaries are circa £50,000.
-Chicken feed for 20 hens costs circa £600 year
Income generations opportunities
-Rent it for children’s weekend parties for a nominal cost (i.e. £20) – access provided via the main school building, which is open for community lets at the weekend
-The space is used/rented by holiday clubs outside term time
-They sell eggs from their hens (£1.20 for 6 eggs) and bacon from their pigs
-They sometimes run a small farm shop sale with produce from the garden
Learning and wellbeing
-Space used for a myriad of lessons from geography and science to language and cookery
-Veg from the garden has been used for class cooking and picnics
-Children are taught about the food cycle
-African garden gives children wider perspective food grow in the developing world
-Creative outdoor learning space