Where we've got to
In October 2010 Rhubarb Farm was a couple of weed-tangled fields. Community Payback teams started hacking back the brambles and have not stopped coming since then.
Work started on site in January 2011, and a car park was laid and two containers placed on it for office and storage. Water, electricity and phone were installed.
With an award from the Working Neighbourhoods Fund, through the Bolsover Local Strategic Partnship, we were able to employ a Farm Manager and an admin/finance worker. Vegetables were grown that Spring and 3 local unemployed young men were taken on as Gardeners through the Future Jobs Fund.
Volunteers started coming to Rhubarb Farm from the very first month, and up to March 2013 we have had nearly 200 volunteers come.
We managed to fence about a third of our site in 2011, and then complete the fencing of that area in May 2012. This gave us security and we were able to site a café cabin, a composting toilet and another cabin for youth work and mess room. In 2012 we were awarded funding from Tesco to erect a large polytunnel.
In November 2011 we employed a Youth Worker under a contract with Raising Aspirations to provide activities for young people who have not been attending school for a while. This was extended in 2013 to involve younger children in the transition period from primary to secondary school.
In March 2012 we employed two ex-offenders as Cropshare Workers through a contract with the Home Office.
In 2012 we employed 11 young people aged 16-18 years old as apprentices under the National Apprenticeship programme for them to get an NVQ2 in Horticulture.
In July 2012 we began supplying customers with veg bags, under a community supported agriculture (CSA) scheme, whereby customers come to site weekly to collect their bags.
In 2012 we installed a pond with a dipping platform in our wildlife area, and organised a Corporate Challenge Day for 25 Sainsbury's store managers and HR managers.
In October 2012 we employed a Drug and Alcohol Worker through a contract with Derbyshire County Council Drug and Alcohol Team to provide services to recovering substance misusers, and support them towards employment.
In November 2012 we won an award from the Big Lottery Fund for a BUDDIES Project aimed at intensive support for people with long term issues. This has enabled us to employ three staff to run the Project.
In March 2013 we won a tender from Leicestershire Probation Trust's regional REACH programme, for a GREEN CHANCES Project to support 20 ex-offenders into work between April 2013 and December 2014. This will enable one of our ex-offenders to continue as mentor for the ex-offenders on the programme.
We have held four events - a Soup on Site event , a Hearty Harvest event, a Family Fun Day and, in Sept 2012, the Langwith Community Show.
We have run or hosted 37 courses - cookery for parents, cookery for people with mental ill health, wood working, wood carving, compost toilet making, pizza oven making, willow weaving, gypsy crafts, bird box making.
We have taken 9 people on individual placements paying off Community Service Order hours, through Derbyshire Probation Trust.
We bought a small tractor in 2012.
We have organised three Corporate Volunteering Days for DWP when Job Centre workers from across the region gave a day to volunteer at Rhubarb Farm.
We have had major funding support from two charities, The Henry Smith Charity, and Lankelly Chase Foundation, for the salaries of our Farm Manager and Finance and Monitoring Officer.
Mark Guy, of Derbyshire Probation Trust sent this reflection in support of Rhubarb Farm in July 2012:-
" I would like to reflect on our story so far .... We first worked together in autumn 2010. Myself and the 8 strong team of offenders on Community Payback ( CP ) fought our way through the brambles, nettles and various other things to clear the site. The aim over the next few months was to make the grounds ready for the next stage. As the site started to develop, with the help of the local community and various volunteers from varied backgrounds, we could see that something special was starting to happen. My role within Derbyshire Probation Trust changed during spring 2011 and we realised the possibility for Individual Placements, as well as continuing the support through working groups on CP. Many months later, many have benefited through the work done by offenders on placement at Rhubarb Farm. One particular event turned into a real success. Ashley continued to volunteer after successfully completing his order on an Individual Placement. He has since gained employment through funding available to the project and he continues to develop. These are the rewards for his work, commitment and belief in the whole project. I am very proud of him and our small contribution. Thanks also to everyone involved and I look forward to seeing how the project evolves and develops.
Best wishes to you all .... "