Meanwood Valley Urban Farm is a 26 acre working farm, with a wide variety of animals. It is also a registered charity, and a major centre for community and environmental work. Established in 1980, their goal was to reconnect urban people with their food. The farm works in partnership with Leeds City Council in providing a community care scheme, where adults with learning disabilities receive training in gardening, literacy and numeracy.
During the summer of 2022 the 100% Digital team supported staff at Meanwood Valley Urban Farm to apply for the Leeds Digital Inclusion Fund. In August, the farm were successful in securing £10,000 to help them to build digital elements into their HOOF (Help Out on the Farm) group. The HOOF group is a group of people with learning disabilities who learn new skills, work with animals and improve their health and wellbeing in a variety of settings at the farm.
The Autism and Learning Disability Digital Inclusion Coordinator has been working closely with staff at the farm to discuss how the money can be spent to benefit as many people as possible. Some of this money has now been spent on cameras which will be set up in the animal enclosures, allowing people to enjoy watching their favourite animals live. The 100% Digital team has supported staff at the farm to build links with care homes who support residents with learning disabilities, many of whom are too vulnerable to visit the farm in person. There are already plans in place for the footage to be streamed in the weekly Aspire Zoom sessions that take place in Aspire care homes and day centres citywide. This pioneering work is being promoted nationally in the City Farms Network meetings.
The 100% Digital team alerted us to the Leeds Digital Inclusion Fund through which we have achieved £10,000 of funding to use with our HOOF group. This will enable us to buy equipment which will both benefit the lives of our members and also allow us to share the amazing experience of being on the farm with a much wider audience. By linking us with Networks such as the Autism and Learning Disability Digital Inclusion Network, the team have also allowed us to promote our work to a wider audience and enabled us build links with other groups access opportunities for people with learning disabilities in the Leeds area.Adam Ogilvie, CEO, Meanwood Valley Urban Farm
Equipment and digital skills support
A proportion of the Digital Inclusion Fund has also been spent on iPads, which will allow members of the HOOF group to develop their digital skills in an enjoyable way while they are working at the farm. The Autism and Learning Disability Coordinator is also delivering bespoke workshops in the New Year to ensure that staff on the farm have the digital skills and confidence that they need to support their members.
Meanwood Valley Urban Farm have now joined the Autism and Learning Disability Digital Inclusion Network. The network is made up of over forty organisations citywide who work to support Autistic People and People with Learning disabilities. The organisations meet monthly to share training and opportunities related to digital inclusion, to promote their work and to share good practice.
If you are interested in joining the Network or finding out more then please contact Nicky@pyramid.org.uk
Meanwood Urban Valley Farm are working in partnership with 100% Digital Leeds and the Central North Local Care Partnership as part of the community-based approach to Digital Inclusion. The Farm is looking at ways they can develop and expand their current digital inclusion offer and become a Digital Health Hub, upskilling volunteers to support people with digital as well as looking at health and wellbeing walks to and from the farm.