Lambing Season at SweetTree Fields Farm

It’s probably not a sight you would expect to see in Mill Hill – newborn lambs making their entrance into the world!
But at SweetTree Fields Farm, hidden away from view down a quiet track, a group of volunteers have been helping lambing season get into full swing.

The 14-acre farm is run by SweetTree Farming for All, a not-for-profit Community Interest Company, which provides therapeutic activities for people who have learning disabilities, acquired brain injuries, autism, mental health needs or dementia. Its clients range from 11 to 96 years old.

Farm Director Jude Allen said: “We have a paddock with about 30 sheep and lambing season is always the most eagerly awaited time of the year. Around 20 lambs have been born so far in the past fortnight, with our clients helping mum and lamb to bond, ensuring they get enough milk and also helping to muck out.

“The farm, which also has donkeys, goats, ducks and chickens, as well as produce, helps our clients build their confidence and self-esteem, encouraging them to achieve things they didn’t feel possible.”

SweetTree client Paul Hewitt, 39, who has been coming to the farm twice a week since June 2017, said looking after the lambs was a wonderful experience: “It’s a brilliant time of year on the farm and I feel really thrilled to see and hold the new-born lambs. It’s so rewarding to see new life beginning.”

SweetTree Farming for All has recently applied to Barnet Council to formalise planning permission to use the farm as agricultural land for care farming, retaining the current buildings, structures and pathways needed to support its clients. This is effectively a restatement of the permissions originally granted by planners when the farm began in 2013.

A separate proposal will be submitted shortly for three pairs of semi-detached properties containing 24 transitional living units to enable SweetTree’s clients to live on site, as well as an indoor training centre which can be used all-year round for wildlife education, a barn for storage and a farmhouse.

Site owner Barry Sweetbaum said: “There’s a huge lack of support for people with disabilities between them leaving school and home, and finding employment and alternative accommodation.

“Our proposals will give people up to three years living on the farm to immerse themselves in the work culture and to gain valuable education and independent living experience to help them move on with their lives in the community.

“Although the site is greenbelt, we feel there is no better way to make a positive, environmentally-focused social impact; we feel there truly could be no better use for the site than we have proposed.”

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