'Nature's therapy' - Suffolk care home sets up farm for people living with dementia
- Credit: Kingsley Healthcare
A Suffolk care home is setting up its own mini-farm – including chickens, ducks, sheep, goats and pigs.
Allonsfield House nursing home in Campsea Ashe, near Woodbridge, was originally built as a farm in the 17th century, so is coming full circle.
Home manager Judith Morgan-Worrall said: “As well as providing us with lovely fresh vegetables and fruit, the farm will also provide great therapeutic benefit to residents, many of whom grew up in rural Suffolk.
“Research has shown how nature’s therapeutic qualities can really help people living with dementia.”
She said Allonsfield Farm would be a community project and the home was appealing for local volunteers to help out after Covid-19 restrictions ease.
If the project is successful, Kingsley Healthcare, which runs the home, plans to roll out farm projects to other sites across the UK.
Mason Worsfold-Gregg, 21, who studied biology and conservation and previously ran a therapy farm at a special needs school, has been appointed as farm manager and will oversee the smallholding.
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He said: “We will be planning public open days and are looking to get local schools and groups involved."
Pens will be built to house chickens that are due to hatch in incubators early next month.
Mr Worsfold-Gregg, who has moved from London and lives on site, said: “"As well as hosting visits, I’ll be taking incubators into schools and explaining the chicken’s life cycle. Schools will be able to hire an incubator so the pupils can watch the chickens hatch.
"I am building a raised pond for ducks - that will be our next arrival. We will then be gradually introducing a couple of sheep, goats and pigs."
He added: “I have begun planting seeds that are already sprouting. These will be planted out in raised beds as soon as the weather picks up."
Crops will include different types of lettuce, cabbages, beetroot, radishes, carrots, beans, peas and strawberries, with plans to introduce other varieties of fruit.
The farm will eventually have nine raised beds at wheelchair height, so residents can help with the gardening. There will also be a polytunnel for tomatoes, basil and Mediterranean-based crops, with wheelchair access through the middle.