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Care farm wins £4,500 funding to bring more woodland to North London

Dec 21, 2021 | Latest News From Sweet Tree

SweetTree Fields Farm staff on tractor

SweetTree Fields Farm in Mill Hill has been awarded £4,500 funding from the Aviva Community Fund to build a dedicated tree nursery – with the trees destined to regenerate the seven-acre woodland on the site as well as other spaces within the community.

The farm is a specially-designed therapeutic environment which uses animals and nature to help those with support needs to learn new skills and lead more healthy, active and independent lives.

The tree nursery area will be accessible to adults and young people with health and social care needs to help develop an understanding of trees and what it’s like to work in a tree nursery, as well as learning about the importance of biodiversity.  It is hoped some of those working on site will move on to positions in nurseries in the community.

Robert Barnes, Director of SweetTree Farming for All, which uses the farm to support disadvantaged young people, said: “The funds will help our passionate team to acquire the initial tree stock and build the tree nursery area.

“As well as helping those we support, this project offers us a chance to make a very real impact on global warming through regenerating the woodlands on site. We will be making the trees grown available to local parks and other bodies as well. This is an incredible project that helps not only those with support needs but also the community at large.”

Barry Sweetbaum, Founder of South Hampstead-based SweetTree Home Care Services, which runs the farm, recognised the vital contributions that have helped the project to work.

“Thanks to Aviva, we have the funding needed to put the infrastructure in place and purchase the trees which we will plant and grow-on for transplanting into the woodland.  We have also had endless support from Lawsons Builders in Whetstone throughout the development of the care farm and cannot thank them enough for their commitment to helping the farm and those we serve.”

Gemma Johnson, Farm Project Manager, said: “It’s a wonderful opportunity for our co-workers to engage in a project which addresses climate change. This year we have invested a huge amount in getting the farm ready for reopening after Covid-19.

“With huge thanks to Aviva, we now have the funds to take on another meaningful project like the tree nursery which until now was beyond our sights. I cannot think of any other environment where learning how to work in a tree nursery is on the course list for those with special needs. We feel very privileged to be able to introduce this as a new programme in 2022.”

Rob Saint, Branch Manager, Whetstone, of Lawsons Building Materials said: “Lawsons prides itself on being able to help local communities and charities. When called upon we like to help out wherever we can, whether that be materials or helping out in volunteered work and seeing the project through the phases from start to finish.

“When Barry Sweetbaum called upon Mark O’Connell and Lawsons for a helping hand we were more than willing to help, especially because of what SweetTree Fields Farm stands for, support and learning for all ages. If the tree nursery requires any further support, Lawsons will be there with a smile ready to help. Lawsons would like to thank Barry for getting us involved in this project and hope all visitors value what has been created.”

The Aviva Community Fund supports applications from forward-thinking projects which help to create a brighter, more sustainable future. Much of the fund’s support is directed towards smaller charities and community causes testing innovative ideas which help to build more resilient communities. Aviva employees distribute £250,000 of Aviva Community Fund every quarter.

Paula Hall from Aviva said: “We’ve been running the Aviva Community Fund for over five years now and we’re proud to have helped thousands of charities and good causes to make a difference across their communities within the UK.

“The SweetTree Fields Farm nursery is a fantastic example of the difference the Aviva Community Fund can make. Projects like this one really highlight the value in community investment, creating a positive impact to all the beneficiaries. We’re absolutely delighted to have been able to support SweetTree with their project.”

Pictured: Lee Renouf, Jade Webb and Christy-Ann Sephton celebrate the funding award which will allow woodland regeneration at SweetTree Fields Farm