Hadleigh Farm

August 22, 2014

I may not know what I'll be doing tomorrow nor what I even want for my birthday yet somehow I've already worked out a vague idea of what I want to do when I'm in my mid-to-late-thirties. By then, God-willing (and by my best efforts) I've become so established and successful in whatever it is I'll be doing then that I have the luxury to work from my home in a leafy London suburb, while raising my three children (two twin sons and a girl) as well as running a nearby city farm. On my city farm will be a cafe using only organic produce and free range eggs from the farm (that you can buy), a dwarf hamster colony, a huge open aviary where birds can come and go as they please, a butterfly house, and of course pigs, goats, sheep, alpacas, rabbits, poultry etc. that you can sponsor and adopt. But most of all there will be a petting zoo for children with BESD (Behavioural, emotional and social difficulties). Having volunteered and worked with children charities, as well as charities for the less fortunate I do believe that our true calling is to help others in need, give back to the community, and on a whole enrich each others lives. Wouldn't it be wonderful if I could do that for a living while combining my love for children and animals? So I told Henry about my dream to set up a city farm with a childcare centre for children where they could, under the watchful and encouraging eye of their teachers, bond with the farm animals while learning about responsibility and respect for living creatures. He said he knew just the sort of place I was talking about, and took me to Hadleigh Farm so that I could see my dream in action.

Since 1980, Salvation Army-owned Hadleigh Farm has been giving back to the community by training and educating men and women who have fallen on hard times. Hadleigh Farm works with local authorities to train people with special educational needs in contemporary subjects (IT skills, carpentry, catering, office skills etc), giving them the confidence and skills to further themselves personally and professionally. Hadleigh Farm is very much a pillar and centre for Hadleigh community; the farm was the 2012 Games host venue for Mountain Biking, families with children flock to their Rare Breeds Centre to feed the animals (£1 for 3 bags of animal feed), and trainees from the Hadleigh Training Centre serve cakes, scones, and breakfast at the Tea Rooms. Not only does The Salvation Army and Hadleigh Farm help remove barriers to employment for marginalised members of society, it also provides a beautiful respite from the hustle of everyday life.  Hadleigh Farm and the surrounding country park, including Hadleigh Castle (where Henry brought me camping for my birthday) encourages people of all ages to get outdoors and ultimately, more have a more healthy and social lifestyle. Isn't that all there really is to the good life? I certainly think so.

One can read more about Hadleigh Farm in Essex and all the good they can do on their website, here.

Meanwhile, enjoy my attempts at not-so-wildlife photography and imagine how much more wonderful a city is for having a farm, and how much richer a community is for a place like this. Pardon me while I go and plan my future city farm, its petting zoo, free-range cafe, and dwarf hamster colony. x

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