Just three years ago, in the midst of the pandemic, Atma-Rachel Selby and her partner Ben Willetts decided to embark on a new way of life that would benefit their wellbeing and their community. Attracted to the idea of organic farming and the no dig method advocated by Charles Dowding, the couple, who had both been made redundant, decided to create a garden in woodland near Skellingford, that had belonged to Ben’s mum.
Today the 5.3 acres has been transformed into the Old Wood Organic Farm, an organic farm and forest school offering programmes for home education groups and sessions for families with children who have special education needs. Atma explained; "During sessions we teach those attending how to cook, so those who get free school dinners get at least one cooked meal a day during the holidays.”
The farm also offers therapeutic horticulture and forestry courses, free drop-in nature connection sessions and monthly sustainable eco crafts which include willow weaving, flower pressing and storytelling.
“The farm transformed our lives as a family and made us realise how important nature is to wellbeing. It is not just about the child, but about the whole family.”Atma-Rachel Selby
The funding from the Lincolnshire Co-op Community Champion scheme was used to make the pathway to the farm accessible using woodchip, install a compost toilet and enable the couple to submit plans to develop and renovate the barn area and carry out a tree survey.
Securing the money has given the couple the confidence to proceed with their plans in the way they really wanted to. They also believe that as the money was raised by the local community, this makes it even more special because their farm is for the local community and it now feels like it’s “paying it forward”. It has also secured the project for at least the next three years.
Local people have welcomed the smallholding, many contributing items such as a greenhouse, tools and seedlings and the farm is already producing fruit, vegetables and herbs to supply businesses in the market city of Lincoln.