At Rural Care Church Farm and Aldenham Country Park we have set up several enterprises. Both farms have a craft and plant enterprise and at Aldenham we have a sweet enterprise too. All enterprises generate money that then can be reinvested in tools and materials.
Aldenham Sweet Enterprise
For many years now we have sold the Greenside Studio sweet cones and clay models in the Church Farm shop. When we opened the shop at Aldenham Country Park Greenside school wasn’t able to meet the demand of bagging up the sweets. At Church Farm we are still selling the Greenside Studio sweets but at Aldenham Country we are doing it ourselves.
The sweet enterprise adds a range of skills to learn for the Co-Farmers, like food hygiene, measuring, counting, money and business skills. A lot of Co-Farmers have been enjoying bagging up sweets and it is an activity that everyone can get involved in. The samples (for market research, of course) at the end of the packing session help the enthusiasm!
We also have been selling crafts in the farm shop. Within our crafts we try to reuse and recycle different objects. We made the rustic display from old boxes and even cut our own hooks from tree branches.
Like with any craft stall, some items are selling better than others, but we are learning quickly. Co-Farmers are taking part in the stock take and work out how much we have made from our sales.
Church Farm Crafts
The Rural Care craft enterprise started in August 2015 and has gone from strength to strength. The Co-Farmers make a range of cards and gift items, often from materials found, donated or found on the farm.
The Co-Farmers all involved with the different aspects of the project from making, packaging, pricing and stocktaking. We have also taken some of our products to local craft fairs. The Co-Farmers have been part of the sales team and it has enabled them to develop some new skills.
One of the favourite craft projects that involved a lot of the Co- Farmers and school groups was leaf pressing, we chose leaves from the allotment and woodland and pressed them onto fabric. The fabric has then been mounted using the sewing machine and then mounting them on cards.
We have also created a stand for all of our Wool crafts which are now available in the farm store, they include needle felted cards, bags of our sheep’s wool, washed and raw. Peg looms that we have made for weaving and mini rugs. The Co-Farmers look forward to their craft sessions.
The Co-Farmers have been busy on their allotment this year, headed up by staff Zoe the team have be producing some wonderful produce. All of the beds are beautifully labelled and the pumpkin patch is thriving. We have grown 1000 pumpkins from seed ready for visitors to the farm to pick and carve ready for Halloween. This has been a labour of love for all the Co-Farmers at Aldenham, as we planted the seeds and waited for them to grow, then planted them in our allotment. We have been weeding and watering them each week.
The simple layout has helped the Co-Farmers understand what is growing and how to care for the plants. There has been an on-going competition of who’s sunflower can grow the tallest.
Church Farm Rural Care Allotment
The allotment started early this year as we had the marquee and were able to chit the potatoes and over winter the tete-a-tete and other bulbs to sell in the store and on the Rural Care stall near the allotment. With the teams of Co-Farmers helping with the planting, bulbs, seeds and garlic went in early. Strawberry runners were planted into pots—700 in total which we sold for £1 each. Broad beans and peas went straight into the beds which the Co-Farmers had prepared with wheel barrows full of manure from the chickens, followed by potatoes, and red and white onions. The rhubarb came on strong this year. We planted parsnips, tomatoes, courgettes, brussels, and carrots followed by purple sprouting broccoli, beetroot, lettuce, and herbs like rosemary, chives, mint, sage, parsley, thyme and marjoram. There were also flowering plants that Co-Farmers choose the seeds for and cared for the plants until they flowered. Some went to be planted in the pub garden and others were sold on the Rural Care stall and in the shop. The Co-Farmers enjoy the whole process, including harvesting the crop and doing some cooking sessions. It has been a good year in the allotment!