Connect with your community

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Older people living in care are twice as likely to experience loneliness as those in the community.We are looking for friendly volunteers with an interest in helping others to gardening, to support…Continue

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Can You Help Combat Loneliness?

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Growing Support are looking for friendly volunteers with interests in gardening and supporting people, to help older people and people with dementia take part in gardening activities.  You will…Continue

Join our volunteers!

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We're looking for friendly volunteers to join our team working hard to enable people with dementia to stay physically and socially active.Join us and make a valuable contribution to your community,…Continue

Using Gardening to Address Social Isolation

Started by Alive May 3, 2017. 0 Replies

How You Can Help Tackle Social Isolation in Your CommunityRecent research shows up to 50% of older people living in care never go outside and they are twice as likely to experience severe loneliness…Continue

Learning for Growth - Smallholder Courses in Somerset

The “Learning for Growth” initiative provides the opportunity to learn about starting and/or improving a smallholding and growing your own food. The training will cover all aspects of establishing a growing space and managing it sustainably using organic methods. This initiative is being funded by the Dorset Adult Learning and is offering a subsidised place to anyone aged 19 and over as a way to get started.

The courses are based on Magdalen Farm which lies at the centre of Magdalen Environmental Trust - an environmental education charity who aims to encourage all to learn new skills and enjoy new experiences whilst developing a more sustainable approach to life.

Qualification: Individuals not in full-time education aged 19 and over. There are limited places for adults in full- time education by application. Minimum and maximum numbers apply to all courses. Candidates are eligible for only 1 of the options available.

Location: Magdalen Farm, Winsham, Chard, Somerset, TA20 4PA.

Option 1: Weekend Residential

“How to build a successful Smallholding or Allotment to grow fruit & vegetables incorporating bees and poultry.”

25th to 27th January 2013

Minimum donation for course materials £25 per person (excludes Dorset Care Farm Referrals) Arrival from 4pm Friday Departure from 5pm Sunday
Accommodation in shared bunk style rooms with shared bathroom facilities.
Food included with special dietary needs catered for with advance notice.


OPTION 2: Choose up to 3 day courses

  • 29th January Keeping Poultry on a smallholding
  • 12th February Fruit Tree Pruning
  • 12th March Polytunnel Horticulture and Growing Undercover
  • 23rd April Keeping Pigs, Sheep & Goats on a Smallholding
  • 14th May Fruit & vegetable growing
  • 18th June Small scale bee keeping

Minimum donation for course materials - £10 per person per course (excludes Dorset Care Farm Referrals)

All courses start at 9:30am and aim to finish at 2:30pm. Notes and a simple homemade lunch are included.

Course Content:

All the courses will be based on organic principles of sustainable growing but will include discussion about other methods.

More information about Course Content

Building a successful Smallholding or allotment - 26th & 27th January

This is a residential weekend of training which will cover all aspects of establishing a smallholding, and in managing it sustainably using organic methods.

The weekend not only covers fruit and vegetable growing but also introduces poultry and bee keeping. The weekend course aims to cover the following:

Fruit & Vegetable Growing

“The answer lies in the soil”

  •  Soil structure Participants are welcome to bring samples of soil from their own growing space
  •  Composting Compost bin design, making good compost, mulches and bought in additives.
  •  Manures & feeds.
  •  Planning
  •  Planting plan
  •  Tools 
  • Pest control
  • What where and when.
  • Suitable and year-round crops & growing from seed.
  • Hand tools and machinery.
  • Traps, barriers, companion planting etc.

Small scale Bee Keeping

Keeping Poultry on a smallholding

Types of Bird & how to choose which is right for you What housing and equipment you will need
Identifying common ailments
How to handle and clam birds and checking for parasites.

    •   Types of Bees
    •   Types of Hive
    •   Siting Hives
    •   Feeding in Spring
    •   Swarming
    •   Swarm Catching
    •   Removing Honey
    •   Autumn Feeding
    •   Winter
    •   Breeds
    •   Husbandry
    •   Bird health
    •   Hands On


      The weekend course includes accommodation and meals from Friday evening through to Sunday evening with accommodation in our shared bunk style rooms with shared bathroom facilties. Special dietary needs can be catered for with notice.

Keeping Poultry on a Smallholding 29th January 2013

Interested in keeping a few chickens and wondering where to start? This introductory session covers both theoretical and practical sessions on sourcing your chickens; general husbandry; feed and range management; chicken behaviour and welfare and animal handling.

Fruit Tree & Hedge Pruning 12th February 2013

An opportunity for hands on experience in what to prune when, and the different techniques involved.

Polytunnel Horticulture and Growing Undercover- 12th March 2013

A one day course on learning how to get the best from your polytunnel. The day will be focused on organic principles and cover siting your polytunnel, bed and soil preparation, crop rotation, extending the seasons and all year production inside and out, pests and diseases, repairs and maintenance. The day will be both theoretical and practical doing hands-on activities.

Keeping Pigs, Sheep & Goats on a Smallholding - 23rd April

A beginners course covering all aspects of keeping pigs, sheep and goats on a smallholding. This includes:

  •   choosing the most appropriate breed for your needs reviewing the necessary equipment required for good husbandry

  •   basic health & nutrition

  •   breeding

  •   producing stock for sale

  •   meeting legal requirements.

Organic Vegetable Growing Day, 14th May 2013

This course will help you create a productive organic vegetable plot. It will cover soil types and how to improve them, mulches, manure and composting, planning, vegetable families and rotations, timings, sowing, planting out and harvest times. The day will also include pest and disease prevention and control, how to extend the growing season and companion planting. The day won’t just be theoretical and will involve us doing some practical work and getting our hands dirty!

Small scale Bee Keeping 18th June 2013

Find out about all aspects of keeping bees and extracting honey for your table. Aimed at the complete beginner who wants to find out more about what is involved in keeping bees and equipment needed to get started.


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