Willow Farm is a small holding in the West Sussex countryside which came into being some years ago when our CEO was gifted a small herd of alpacas. Not wanting to waste an opportunity for expanding the choice on offer to our children, we rented several acres of land from a local farmer and installed the alpacas there. Over time we acquired some chickens and ducks, 10 sheep and 2 very friendly goats. Since that time the farm has grown and developed; the sheep were reared organically and eventually sold to market; the alpacas, now elderly, have retired to a good home with a local family. Wally and Bruno, the goats, remain at Willow Farm and are firm favourites with staff and students alike.
The farm now includes pathways, an accessible toilet, 2 wooden cabins and 2 caravans – these are used for teaching space, office space and storage. There is an outdoor kitchen housed in an ex-military all- weather tent; there are raised beds and a polytunnel for planting.
In 2022 we made the important decision to employ the Stones Throw Farm Group to run Willow Farm. Scott and Jo Stone and their team are experienced agriculturalists with land of their own who also provide farming services to other land and livestock owners. The Stones are passionate about farming and about making a difference in the lives of our children; the value they add to Willow Farm comes from a wealth of experience and expertise in animal husbandry and horticulture. Out of this skill set we are able to provide work placement opportunities for our students which take place, not only on Willow Farm itself, but, when appropriate, in industry settings where the Stones also work. Students can learn to drive farm vehicles including tractors and quad bikes and they can gain licences for these skills.
Since joining Willow Farm the Stones have established a commercial flock of sheep; the flock will be maintained through a breeding programme and surplus animals sold on. Stones Throw colleagues are also delivering a programme of calf-rearing at the farm; they are contracted to supply market garden businesses in the area and they have set up a growing programme at Willow Farm which will contribute to this supply line. Students will be involved in all farm activities in a safe and supported environment. The Stones Throw team have all trained in the Releasing Potential ethos and behaviour management approach; each member of the group understands how Choice Informed education functions and what their work brings to it.
At Willow Farm, as in all our enterprise settings, students work to the ASDAN Employability and Project schemes of work, and the Stones Throw team are trained in how to help them meet the outcomes against these curricula.
Sometimes the farm provides an alternative space for staff and students to work together away from our main buildings at Havant and Chichester. Even for students not involved in work placements the farm cabins can be booked for teaching; staff and students can interact with the animals, cook outdoors and help with farm jobs.
Releasing Potential Enterprises
Unit 7 Kingscroft Court
RPE Ltd Company No: 10626819
023 9247 9762