All Year: no
Area (ha): 72
Persons: 1 to 4
Category: Organic Farmstay
Host ID: 22768
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Last Updated: March 27, 2018
**Current vacancies: 28th April - 6th May, 26th May to 17th June, 21st July - 19th August, 8th September to 7th October**
“Babbinswood Farm exists to provide our family with a sustainable foundation, to ensure that the land and its special energy is handed down to future generations in a thriving state, whilst being a beacon of inspiration to others”
The reason we embarked on taking volunteers from Wwoof or HelpX is to enable people to come and learn the importance of regenerative organic food production and we try and do this whilst having a low impact lifestyle. This is important for a sustainable way forward for human beings to continue to inhabit this planet. We are evolving and exploring ways to achieve this.
At Babbinswood we live quite comfortably* and eat well and in return we expect our volunteers to be keen to join in with the work and to be enthusiastic members of the team, as well as eager to learn more by joining us some evenings watching DVDs to learn more about and to discuss environmental issues. This way we can all share our knowledge, thoughts and experiences and take them away to tell others. We would prefer our volunteers do not fly to the UK due to the environmental costs; even though it may look cheaper in money terms, this is not always the case by the time you have factored in transport from the airport to Babbinswood. Trains can be expensive in the UK if not booked in advance so check first.
Babbinswood Farm is 185 acres; 170 acres of pasture, 1 acre fruit and vegetable garden with two polytunnels, 4 acres of mixed woodland which is used by groups for overnight camping, outdoor activities and bush craft during the summer months. One of the aims of this is to bring young people an awareness of organic food production and its environmental significance, 4 acres of young woodland, which needs attention at times to help it flourish. We intend to plant more trees and hedgerows this year…
Since April 2017…
The farm is managed by my middle daughter, Casha and her husband Adam. Casha has a micro-dairy rearing calves naturally with their mother cows, selling milk directly to customers from the farm; the remaining grassland is used rear sheep (owned by another farmer). Casha manages the flock around the farm following Holistic Planned Grazing. Also at the farm is my veterinary practice where I practice holistic therapies. The vet practice occupies part of the house and farm buildings and employs 4 people, so during weekdays there is a busy atmosphere around the place. My youngest daughter also lives with me in the farm house and she is currently exploring ways to create a farm shop here at the farm as well as developing a local food hub for local producers.
The farm buildings are to be developed and the farmhouse insulated using sustainable materials and methods. The development of the farm buildings has gone through the initial stages of securing planning permission; my eldest daughter Nikki and Richard may be involved in that in future. It is hoped it will become a centre of learning in agro-ecological farming, sustainable living and natural healing methods. We hope to get more community involvement and start a pasture fed chicken for egg and meat production.
During your stay
This year we are not accepting volunteers on a continuous basis but instead we have decided to open the farm to volunteers for certain periods of time, in four week blocks through-out the year. The reason for this is that there is a lot happening at the farm and to help our volunteers get a full understanding of the farming practices here we have a structured programme which will cover these practices in depth over the course of the four weeks.
The programme will be divided into:
Holistic Planned Grazing,
Running a Micro-Dairy,
Growing Vegetables on a Small-Scale
Depending on the time of year Woodland management and Managing Pasture Poultry may also be included.
For this to happen, we will have an in-depth training day on the first Monday of the four-week block. We ask volunteers to be at the farm ready for the Monday. Arrival at the farm can be up to 3 days before the Monday. We will select volunteers based on them being available for the four week block. In some circumstances we may accept volunteers for two weeks within a programme.
We expect about 5 hours work a day, 5 days a week; sometimes when there is a lot to do, some extra work would be appreciated and the hours need to be flexible to fit around what needs to be done. Naturally the gardens and farm need attention at the weekends. We have a daily task rota to share the work
You will be offered a room in the house. Sometimes you may be asked to share, but the rooms are quite big. There are 2 shared bathrooms with showers. If you prefer to camp or sleep in a small caravan that could be arranged sometimes. I would expect the caravans and tents just to be used for sleeping in; they are close to the house and you would use the house facilities for bathrooms and meals will be altogether in the house as well.
*The house is an old farmhouse and bedrooms can be cold in the winter. We intend to improve the insulation to help this when time permits but in the meantime we live to an extent in the way people lived before the advent of central heating. This means keeping the living areas downstairs warm in the evening, where people can be together and share the heat of the kitchen and the wood burning stove in the sitting room. There is also an open fireplace in the dining room which can be lit to warm that area. Although the bedrooms are cooler, there are plenty of warm bedclothes and hot water bottles. Most of the bedrooms do have radiators but it would take an enormous amount of fuel (wood) to keep the whole house warm; to use electric heaters on a regular basis is very wasteful in energy terms as well so this is not an option most of the time. We encourage you to bring suitably warm clothing so that you can be comfortable – and to ask for more if you still feel too cold while you are here.
Meals are of course provided although help in preparing, clearing away and washing up is part of the life here. We share the task of cooking meals between us; it is a good way to get to know each other. The food we provide is organically produced where we possibly can source it, which is most of the time. Non-organic chemically produced food is not welcome on the farm. We aim to waste as little as possible and our volunteers become very creative in using what is available. There is a rota for keeping the communal areas clean and tidy and we expect you to keep your bedrooms clean and strip your bed before you leave.
The hamlet of Babbinswood (quarter of a mile from the farm)comprises about 30 houses and is a mile from the village of Whittington which has a population of about 2500, 2 pubs and a shop with Post Office. By road we are about 4 miles from Oswestry and 20 miles from Shrewsbury or Wrexham. The nearest train station is Gobowen (4 miles away); Shrewsbury and Wrexham also have train stations. Oswestry is served by National Coaches. We can collect you from Gobowen or Oswestry. There is a bus service Monday to Saturday (NOT Sunday) (Arriva buses) and the stop is about 400m from the farm. Bikes are available by arrangement.
There are often other WWOOFers or visitors in the house which can be quite sociable, but most of the time in the evenings you will have to entertain yourself. We have a good selection of DVDs and books - many about organic gardening, farming, sustainable living and environmental concerns. We try to have at least one or two communal film nights each week, with a projector and screen to show films that are particularly informative and expect volunteers to join in with this to further their learning. Most of these films have subtitles to help those whose English understanding needs more help.
There is no smoking permitted on the premises, including the house, buildings or the garden areas.
Internet and phones
There is wireless broadband in parts of the house most of the time, there is mobile phone signal as well but both are variable.