This month we're talking to our friend Steven Shimwell from Lane End Farm Trust.
We've been lucky to work closely with them from the very start of Peak District Deli. They were exactly the kind of producer we had in mind.
Our first Peak District Deli Pop-Up Supper Club was in their Alpine style farmhouse and we've been delivering their fantastic veg boxes to our customers ever since.
This month we took a very different delivery from them, with the arrival of two brown hens, who have managed to lay 5 eggs in their first week.
The Peak District is incredibly lucky to have Lane End Farm Trust and the hard work of the staff, students and volunteers hasn’t gone unnoticed. In October 2018 they were awarded the Rural Business Awards Charity Project of the Year for the Midlands and are now going to the National finals in February where they will be up against several other winners from the United Kingdom.
So, we talked to Steven all about the charity, and what they do.
How many of people are involved and how many employees do you have?
We currently have a team of 7, there is myself, Vicky our Animal and Equine manager, Bethan who is our vegetable grower, Emma-Jayne who is our business support officer and then Connie, Julia and John who support our service users. I manage and run the charity, Vicky looks after all of the animals and the service users, Bethan looks after the vegetable garden, whilst Emma-Jayne looks after the finances and running of the charity. We all work together for one common goal of providing meaningful therapeutic real life experiences for disabled, disadvantaged and disengaged young people.
What was the inspiration to set up Lane End Farm Trust?
It came out of a passion to help young people who were ostracised in society, the fact that they had nothing to be involved with and those from disadvantaged backgrounds could get involved in meaningful activities so that they were not getting in trouble, this then evolved into helping disabled young people and then later young people from schools who had become disengaged from Education. The vegetable growing area came from adding a meaningful therapeutic activity that service users could see the fruit of their labour. The meat that we produce from our rare breed pigs and sheep is also farmed to the highest standards showing the service users how to care for animals and where their food comes from, showing the whole process of field to fork.
What did you do before Lane End Farm Trust?
I worked on several farms before Lane End Farm Trust and ran our own smallholding alongside.
What drives you to keep the exceptional standards you have?
The driving factor is the care of the students, offering a meaningful activity where service users have a choice in the activities they do, building positive life experiences and helping the young people to interact within a small group setting makes a massive difference to the service users.
The crops and meat we have are used primarily for student activities, so we choose different vegetables such as Jerusalem artichokes and Kohlrabi to grow and rare breed animals such as Gloucester Old Spot pigs, Hebridean and Polled Dorset sheep to add extra value to the produce we sell.
Tell us a bit about the ethos behind Lane End Farm Trust.
We provide support for disabled, disadvantaged and disengaged young people, providing a simple environment of real quality where the young people can be at one with nature.
We cater for young people from all walks of life; inner city, deprived, abused, neglected, disabled or with learning difficulties and behavioural problems. We help them by providing excellent outdoor farm activities which are driven by the needs of the young people, including: - horse riding, conservation, vegetable growing, carriage driving, bush-craft, animal care and preparing simple meals in the log cabin kitchen.
Working with some of the most difficult and challenging young people from the local area, we provide a real life work experience and our dedicated staff mentor them to achieve a fulfilled and rewarding experience
What do you love most about your job?
I love working with the service users they are all fantastic unique young people who bring a smile to my face every day and by having the animals as well keeps my interest in farming.
What are the challenges?
The main challenge for us is the seasons, especially the last year where we had the Beast from the East right until April and then we went into a very hot Summer, this has proved challenging for us as it has meant having to buy in feed for the animals as the grass growth was poor. Apart from that government funding cuts are always challenging as well.
What is it you love about the Peak District?
The rolling hills, beautiful scenery and livestock that grazes it.
What’s your favourite meal and best drink to go with it?
If I was hard pushed it would have to be a sirloin steak with chips, mushrooms, asparagus tips and broccoli spears. To drink it would have to be a red wine to accompany the meal and a gin and tonic afterwards.
What do you do in your free time?
I like spending time with my family. Spending quality time together.