Depden farm to host training charity for helpers with learning disabilities

The Millennium Farm Trust (MFT) has moved to Rookery Farm, Depden and former chair of trustees Tim F

The Millennium Farm Trust (MFT) has moved to Rookery Farm, Depden and former chair of trustees Tim Freathy has been appointed director of the charity. - Credit: Archant

A charity which trains farm helpers with learning disabilities has moved to a new home near Bury St Edmunds.

The Millennium Farm Trust (MFT) has moved to Rookery Farm at Depden, and former chair of trustees, Tim Freahy, who co-owns the six-acre farm, has been appointed director of the charity.

MFT offers structured, work-based experience to farm helpers with learning disabilities. Farm helpers are given the opportunity to learn skills in animal husbandry, horticulture and agriculture with as much or as little support as they need.

Tim Freathy said: “Now that MFT have decided to stay here at Rookery Farm, we have plans for exciting changes in the months to come, all of which will help each of our farm helpers to become the best they can possibly be.”

MFT-owned equipment and portable buildings were moved from the previous base at Broad Green Farm, Chevington, in mid-April.

The first projects will be a semi-permanent toilet block next to the rose garden, a paved pathway from the drive to the canteen and a new polytunnel on the vegetable field.

MFT is also planning to build a wattle and daub summer house with a thatched roof on site in the early autumn. Expert Richard King from Old Hall will be teaching the new skills needed to do it and running courses for the paying public to help fund the project.

Most Read

Tim said: “This may give us the appetite to build something bigger in the future. The new building will be a quiet place for helpers to visit and will contain a camera obscura. Can’t wait to try that out.”

The MFT was founded in 1996. The initiative for it came from an enthusiastic group of people with learning difficulties and disabilities. Since its farming operation started in the year 2000, many people have benefited from its activities.

The work builds confidence and develops social and practical skills, with outdoor physical activity improving mental and physical fitness. It fills a gap in 18-plus provision, for people who have finished school or left college, and has a strong emphasis on building confidence, social skills and personal development.