A Wandsworth educational farm which supports boys with special needs has reared over 70 lambs and 12 rare breed goat kids this year.
Tom’s Farm, a core element of Nightingale Community Academy, is a therapy resource for boys aged 5-19 with social, emotional and mental health needs, and rears rare breed and native livestock to help the boys learn.
The farm has seen a steady flow of lambs arriving since January, but all 12 goat kids were born in a 48 hour period over the Easter weekend.
Farm manager Joshua Farrell, 26, said: “We are immensely proud of the work we do here on the farm, for the boys and for the animals.
“Showing these young people that there is a whole way of life they don’t know exists and seeing the penny drop is a wonderful feeling.”
The farm’s animals include at-risk breeds such as Bagot goats, which are believed to be Britain’s oldest breed of goat and of which there are only 300-500 left in the world, and Oxford Sandy and Black pigs of which there are up to 500 breeding females left in the world.
As a special needs provision, the farm has been open throughout the pandemic, allowing the boys to be fully involved in the lambing and kidding season.
Through rearing the animals students learn about empathy, farm to fork principles and conservation.
Students participate in the entire farm to fork process, from rearing the animals to sending them off to the abattoir and helping the chef prepare the food in the school kitchen.
The food is then served in the school canteen allowing the boys to understand where their food comes from and make an informed choice.
Chef James Thompson said: “It’s like a chef’s dream to be able to pull up vegetables from the ground and get them on the plate a couple of hours after, and also to be engaged in the husbandry of the animals we’re rearing.
“It’s a privilege is really all I can say.”
Set up in 2009 with a team of two and 38 animals, Tom’s Farm has hugely expanded and now consists of a team of three alongside 48 volunteers and over 600 animals across 14 different sites, expanding 400 acres across London and Surrey.
As well as being a therapy resource, the farm offers accredited animal care and horticulture qualifications and runs educational outreach projects and conservation programmes throughout the country.
Tom’s farm is participating in Open Farm Sunday on 27 June where it will be open to the public.
To learn more about the farm or enquire about volunteering head over to the Facebook page.
Featured image credit: Tom’s Farm