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Allonsfield House nursing home launches exciting farm project

allonsfield organic farm 1

Some interesting new residents will be moving to Allonsfield House nursing home in the coming months – chickens, ducks, sheep, goats and even pigs!

In an unusual appointment for a care home, Mason Worsfold-Gregg, 21, has been appointed as farm manager to oversee the development of a smallholding that will supply residents with fresh fruit and vegetables as well as bringing important therapeutic benefit.

The project will see the site in Campsea Ashe, near Woodbridge, come full circle as Allonsfield House was built as a farm in the 17th century.

Mr Worsfold-Gregg, who studied biology and conservation and previously worked at therapy farm at a special needs school, said: “I have begun planting seeds that are already sprouting; these will be planted out in raised beds as soon as the weather picks up.

“There will be a wide range of crops growing, including different types of lettuce, cabbages, beetroot, radishes, carrots, beans, peas and strawberries. I want to introduce more varieties of fruit.”

He said there would eventually be nine raised beds which would be wheelchair height so residents could help with the gardening.

“I am digging out a bed as a potato bed and the next step will be building a horticultural polytunnel which will have wheelchair access through the middle,” he said.

“This will be used to grow tomatoes, basil and a range of more Mediterranean based crops that need a warmer climate.”

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: “I am building a raised pond for ducks that will be our next arrival.

“We will then be gradually introducing a couple of sheep and goats and pigs. I like native and rare breeds.”

allonsfield organic farm 2

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 they wanted Allonsfield Farm to be a community project and were appealing for local volunteers to help out.

Mr Worsfold-Gregg said: “We will be planning public open days and are looking to get local schools and groups involved.

“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.”

If the project is successful, Kingsley Healthcare, which runs the home, plans to roll out farm projects to other sites across the UK.

Author: Stephen Pullinger

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