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at Learning Fields



FarmHands at Learning Fields is our Care Farming activity, promoting mental and physical health by giving people opportunities to spend time working on the land at our farm and in our landscape.

It provides health, social and educational benefits for a wide range of visitors, including people with learning difficulties, work-related stress, mental health issues, drug and alcohol problems or employability challenges. It can provide possible solutions for those suffering from obesity and depression. There are also social problems such as disconnection from nature, disaffected young people and elderly with limited opportunities that Care Farming can help address.

As well as individuals and groups contacting us directly, there is an increasing amount of interest in Care Farming from many other sectors including health care professionals and social care providers.


Constructing Raised Beds

What is Care Farming?


Care farming is the therapeutic use of farming practices.

Care farms:

  • provide health, social or educational care services for vulnerable groups of people, including those with mental health problems, people suffering from mild to moderate depression, adults and children with learning disabilities, children with autism, those with a drug or alcohol addiction history, disaffected young people, adults and people on probation.
  • provide a supervised, structured programme of farming-related activities, including animal husbandry (livestock, small animals, poultry), vegetable production, woodland management etc.
  • provide regular services for clients/participants as part of a structured care, rehabilitation, therapeutic or educational programme.
  • are commissioned to provide care farming services by referral agencies such as social services, health care trusts, community mental health teams, education authorities, probation services, Connexions etc. Clients can also be self-referred as part of the direct payments scheme, or be referred by family members.


1 To 1 Support Sessions

Dementia Buddy Sessions with 1 to 1 Support provided.

£30 per person per session.

Contact Alex Chalmers on 017683 53860 or 07749 112575; email alex@learningfields.co.uk


Ernie's Shed is a fully equipped workshop available for hire by community groups/individuals to run sessions requiring space to work on a project or to facilitate their own workshops.
For more info & to check availability contact:
Alex Chalmers on 017683 53860 or email alex@learningfields.co.uk

Ernie’s Shed has something for all practical interests:
  • Roomy, bright and dry workspace.
  • Tools, equipment and work benches.
  • Greenhouse and outdoor raised beds.
  • Seated area for tea/coffee/biscuits and talking.

Available activities at Learning Fields, in a safe and nurturing environment, under the supervision of trained staff include:

  • Gardening – in a greenhouse or in raised beds, growing vegetables or flowers, to eat or enjoy.
  • Working in a shed environment.
  • Exploring reminiscence materials – objects, tools, utensils, books and photographs.
  • Enjoy gentle exercise by walking across our fields or through our woods, experiencing Nature by seeing and hearing the birds and animals, smelling the plants or simply feeling the sun and the breeze.
  • Meeting others with similar interests.
  • Opportunities for family, friends or carers to join in or enjoy separate activities.

Dementia directly affects 820,000 people in the UK, and another 25 million people have a close friend or family member with dementia. By 2040, these numbers are expected to double.

We know that keeping mentally, physically and socially active can reduce the risk of dementia, and being in the countryside.

Mental health can be enhanced by exposure to Nature, and this includes being surrounded by Nature, exercising in Nature, or simply a view from a window.

Joining in Learning Fields Dementia Activities allows people with dementia to enjoy this exposure to Nature, to take part in physical activity and to interact socially, all to a degree they are comfortable with at the time, and in a safe environment.

The “Green Care Farming” model is used across Europe to improve health and social care outcomes, resulting in better nutrition, sleeping, confidence, and general wellbeing.


Freedom of choice

Coming to Learning Fields expands the options for people with dementia as to where to receive care, increasing the freedom of choice for them and their carers. Visits to a farm are preferred by some, mainly men, to regular day care.

Smaller scale

Care on a smaller scale can have a positive effect on older people with dementia. They are comfortable in a trusted and recognisable environment with a homely atmosphere, as offered at Learning Fields.

Normal life

Older people see being on a farm or in a garden as a ‘normal’ life. They can be involved in daily activities that they are used to and that conjure up happy memories. Learning Fields can be an option for those older people who are wary of regular day care, but are happy to be involved in what they see as “normal” daily activities.


A potential problem with older people with dementia is reduced consumption of food and drink, with the risk of their being underfed and experiencing undesirable weight loss. Research shows that older dementia patients who visit care farms have higher intakes of energy, carbohydrates and fluids than those in regular day care, ensuring a significantly better nutritional status.

Varied activities

Care farms offer a more varied daily programme that can match the normal, familiar rhythm of the life of older people. Activities can be undertaken individually or in groups, and can involve being outside in the open air.

More social contacts

Many older patients with dementia leave the house less frequently and can lose their social contacts. They can make new contacts at Learning Fields, developing trusting relationships. Exposure to Nature is known to improve verbal expression.

Physical condition

Activities on care farms generally require more physical effort than the activities in a regular day care facility. Older people feel stimulated to stay active and to do things together, helping to maintain their physical condition. It can improve sleep patterns. Different studies suggest that physical exercise can decrease the risk of dementia.