Visit to Yelnow Farm

The weekend before last I went up to Bedford to visit Shane (one of the founders of the Creative Forum).

Shane and Sunny

For the last couple of years Shane has been working for himself running a landscape gardening business. He recently realised that he’s working his arse off and not really making enough money (especially now he’s a father and has another one on the way).

Moreover, making people’s gardens look a bit nicer doesn’t really give him much of a sense of purpose, so he put the word out for some more interesting/better paid work in the area. That’s when Jim gave him a call…

Jim is a lovely old man who owns and runs a certified organic farm in Bedfordshire. He told Shane that while he doesn’t have any paid work, he does have 120 hectares of nice land and would like good interesting project to happen on it.

In particular, Jim and Margaret’s son Geoff has severe learning difficulties and they would like to convert their barn into a temporary residential care and recreational centre for people with similiar problems (as well as a Bed and Breakfast, a processing and packing room for adding value to their farm produce, a wood workshop, and some storage etc).

They would also like to build a new works and machine store (for tractors etc), a system of reed bed water purification (sometimes reffered to as “living machines“), a small cob building and a nice new home for the dogs (who will be displaced by the barn conversion).

Shortly after Shane had visited Yelnow Farm and spoken Jim, I bumped into him for the first time in ages at the Creative Forum event at The Square in March.

I told Shane about my Building Man concept, the idea of organising festivals that leave something useful behind. Everyone I’ve told about the idea loves it, but to date all I’ve written about it was this little teaser here.

Anyway, on Shane’s return to Bedford he spoke to Jim about how a Building Man event, or series of them, could be a suitable process by which we could help him get the building work they need doing done. Jim was open to the idea, so I thought I head up to check out the farm myself…

Yelnow Farm is a lovely place. The day I visited was a beautiful sunny day too, which made it seem all the more idylic. Jim and Margaret live with their son in a small bungalow just opposite their vegable garden, chickens, ducks and geese. They have a barn, a couple of other building and some caravans for their wwoofers. The whole place is surrounded by fields and woodland.

Some pics:

You can check out loads more picture in full size in the Yelnow Farm gallery on the uniteddiversity wiki