Triodos Bank finances the entire organic food chain, from farm to fork
Penmeare Farm expands and enhances care farming facilities
A Triodos Bank loan has enabled Glastonbury-based Penmeare Farm to open its doors to wheelchair users and growing numbers of vulnerable adults.
28-03-2014 | Glastonbury-based, Penmeare Farm is opening its doors to wheelchair users and growing numbers of adults with mental health problems, physical and learning disabilities, thanks to financial help from the UK's leading ethical bank, Triodos Bank.
"We see potential to open up the farm to the elderly and to Help for Heroes and now, thanks to Triodos Bank, this dream can become a reality."
Carla Cortesi, owner of Penmeare Farm
The care farm, that also breeds award-winning Champion Alpacas, Angora Goats and Shetland Sheep, plans to use the additional money to build a toilet block with disabled access, a new classroom to serve as an educational, ICT and craft centre and create wheelchair-friendly pathways around the farm.
Carla Cortesi, owner of Penmeare Farm , explains: "We could fill this place tomorrow with adults from across the county if only we could accommodate them. The funding from Triodos Bank means we can transform the farm so that it is suitable for wheelchair users and much more comfortable for everybody on cold and wet days. Securing the finance to make these improvements has been our ambition from the beginning and when we came across Triodos Bank, it seemed like a perfect match. From the beginning, they took the time to understand our vision and see the difference we make to hundreds of people in the local area. This was something we lacked in the past with our previous bank.
"Somerset County Council has been sending service users to our farm for more than a year and with enhanced facilities this can accelerate even further. We see potential to open up the farm to the elderly and to Help for Heroes and now, thanks to Triodos Bank, this dream can become a reality. We're also thrilled that construction company Balfour Beatty/EDF has already provided many hours free labour and agreed to provide hundreds more so we only need to cover the cost of materials to build the new facilities."
Penmeare Farm is one of a growing number of care farms which aim to provide health, social and educational care services to vulnerable adults through a programme of farming-related activities. The team at Penmeare has gained the trust of the care services department of Somerset County Council and provides more than 100 sessions per month where users develop a range of skills including animal husbandry, farming, horticulture, arts and crafts, farm maintenance, woodcraft, vegetable, fruit and herb production and cookery.
Carla Cortesi continues: "The feedback from some parents is that the qualifications their children have gained through us are some of the first they've ever achieved and that they now stand a genuine chance of seeking employment, in a full time, part time or voluntary capacity, for the first time in their lives. Its not just about qualifications - we see individuals grow in confidence and their ability to relate to others as well as improving their physical fitness and wellbeing."
Penmeare Farm was born after a period of uncertainty and heartache for the founders. In early 2012 following the Christchurch earthquake, Carla Cortesi and Andre Shaw left their home in New Zealand and returned to their British roots with their three children and nine alpacas. They bought 20 acres of land and set up Penmeare Farm. The couple have a long history of working within and experience of care services, education and training, and environmental work and have quickly established the farm's mission.
Kate Lewis, Relationship Manager at Triodos Bank, concludes: "Penmeare Farm is an inspiring example of how farming can provide social, educational and therapeutic opportunities for vulnerable adults and make a real difference in our communities. Triodos Bank is already playing a role in supporting the growing number of care farms in the UK including Jamie's Farm in Wiltshire and Magdalen Farm Project in Chard."
Penmeare Farm is about to sign the Care Farming UK's Code of Practice, which was launched in November 2013, an indication of the team's commitment to providing quality services and experiences to its clients.
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