Communities within Holme Farm

What lies at the heart of communities creating health is pretty simple: people coming together to share nature, food, work, contentment. Despite mixed weather, a group of visitors from Surrey County Council and the NHS – with a common aim of understanding this theory a little better – gathered with anticipation at Holme Farm in mid-October. 

After introducing themselves, they followed Holme Farm’s Biodiversity expert, Andi Roy, across the fields and were enchanted by the highlights along the way as well as the links between communities that have developed simultaneously. The recently created orchard offers 35 different fruit trees yet the saplings were nurtured by HMS Prison Send and were planted over several weeks by many volunteers including youngsters working towards their Duke of Edinburgh Award. 

At the bridge, the group looked on to the murky River Bourne and discovered that the little patch had been a focal point over the summer. Some evenings, it was a place to simply relax and chat with others; by day the dancing dragon and damselflies were a source of entertainment and on occasional nights as dusk fell, large groups gathered to watch the barn owl family that called the place home until their babies were old enough to fly off. Interestingly owls DO mind the rain so these gatherings were rather infrequent!

As the tour continued, various threads of conversation intermingled. Talk of how to attach value to Holme Farm and raise the much-needed funds to sustain the place segued into discovering how the flooded part of the meadow creates a very different ecosystem – and thereby needs – to the rest of the meadow. The intricate and painstaking creation of the natural hedgerow was explained which sits alongside a wellbeing area complete with outside sauna. Andi was both grateful and admiring of the sheer number of volunteers that wanted to get stuck in!

At the end of the tour, volunteers were seen busily working on the allotments – a vibrant array of pumpkins and squashes was displayed. It’s been a busy summer resulting in a variety of different fruit and vegetables for an endless stream of green-fingered volunteers including a group of home-educated children! Inside the barn, a small number of volunteers worked busily on carpentry in order to produce items to sell at the Holme Farm Christmas market at the end of November. 

And as the group sat in the kitchen drinking tea and coffee and eating home-made cake brought in by volunteers, they turned their attention to their purpose – to pool their experiences of community ventures, comparing successes and lessons learned. For Holme Farm, it is about striking the right balance between the existing freedom and creativity that has grown alongside all the fruit and vegetables with suggestions to ensure its development and enhance its inclusivity for all the community. 

As everyone went their own way, they left with their reflections on the shared stories and the natural wonders of the place that indeed form the foundations of health within the community.

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