Youth charity’s Swanwick farm opens new environmental education hub

A new environmental learning hub has been created at the Valley CIDS charity's Turner Farm project in Swanwick, with suport from construction contractor GF Tomlinson and its industry partners.
A new environmental learning hub has been created at the Valley CIDS charity's Turner Farm project in Swanwick, with suport from construction contractor GF Tomlinson and its industry partners.

A Derbyshire youth charity has officially opened a new environmental learning hub at its Swanwick farm, thanks to support from the construction industry.

Christian outreach charity Valley CIDS has worked with Little Eaton firm GF Tomlinson over the past few months to create the new facilities at Turner Farm.

The project has transformed a disused area into an outdoor classroom, including a field shelter which will allow children to study local wildlife in its natural habitat and learn about the importance of biodiversity.

Charity director Ian Tannahill said: “Our primary focus at Turner Farm is to support the personal development and educational attainment of young people who face barriers to accessing mainstream education.

“We know that the traditional classroom learning environment fails to cater for their learning styles and needs, and it is therefore important for us to provide alternative learning spaces and opportunities that inspire the young people to learn.”

He added: “In recent years we have worked to protect and enhance the biodiversity of the site, and we are thrilled with the addition of the hub.

“It fits in wonderfully within an area of the site where we have been developing pond, wetland, horticulture and nature trail areas and enables young people to have a front row seat to the action.”

The 48-acre farm site was originally established in 1740 to provide poor and disadvantaged local children with an education, but had fallen into disrepair before Valley CIDS took it over in 2009.

GF Tomlinson was contracted for the project via the Scape Regional Construction, a public-sector partnership project backed in part by Derbyshire County Council.

Sister firm Total Hire & Sales and supply chain partner Alliance Group Solutions donated plant, equipment and materials.

Craig Stopper, framework manager at GF Tomlinson, said: “We were introduced to Valley CIDs and their Turner Farm project by our friends at Business in the Community and we saw immediately how important this site is for local children and young people.

“This is a space that will have a tremendous impact, expanding the education provision at the farm and ensuring disadvantaged children get the opportunity to learn more about the environment.”

He added: “It’s been a pleasure to see everyone come together for such a worthwhile purpose.”