A Dorset youth farming project was featured on BBC Countryfile in July. ‘Future Roots’ – based at Rylands Farm, a 30 acre smallholding near Sherborne – is the brainchild of social worker Julie Plumley.
Having grown up on a farm herself, Julie wondered what potential there might be for kids struggling in the school system if they had the freedom of the farming environment.
“I just thought about my dad. Farmers have to be a plumber, an electrician, do woodwork, fencing, animal care, veterinary… kids can be here all day with zero emphasis on their Maths and
English ability. Farming allows them to see a different side to themselves.”
The kids, aged between 8 and 18, come with a myriad of issues. “They could be involved in drugs and scared, but then they come here and they have hope, and a future, and people respecting them.” Julie has helped over a thousand youngsters turn their lives around since Future Roots opened its gates in 2008.
Everything is focused on learning by experience. This year in particular they have benefitted from being able to touch and hug the animals. Animal therapy helps them to build a relationship of trust which has a knock on effect with their human relationships too. Julie says, ‘Young people respond to being needed, wanted and valued.’
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