Sturts Farm is a working organic / biodynamic farm, set across 90-acres, on the outskirts of West Moors, Dorset. As a Camphill Community, Sturts Farm has, for well over 30 years, been offering land-based work opportunities, individualised support and supported living for adults who have a learning disability.
Earlier this year (2023) The Camphill Foundation UK & Ireland provided a £10,000 grant and £10,000 loan to Sturts Farm, to help fund a feasibility study and architectural work required for a new major development, comprising three elements.
The first stage of the development is intended to meet the needs of ageing residents / companions, which become more acute as time passes. This project will be the first to be addressed – approximately one third of its cost will be funded by Homes England, whose funding stream requires that it be completed by March 2026, which in turn requires that construction starts by March 2025. By then, designs will have to be agreed upon, planning permission gained and funding found.
A growing trend, originating in Japan, is towards multi-generational care, where structures – social and physical, are created to bring the young and old together. An example of this is demonstrated well at the Apples and Honey Nightingale pre-school and day care in London. Sturts Farm has taken inspiration from this concept and intends to incorporate it into the design of the new housing development.
Its location within the Green Belt introduces unique demands that must be met with sympathy and creativity, and one consequence of this is that one of the agricultural barns will be demolished to make way for the new houses. There will be some obstacles to overcome along the way, such as the safe removal of the asbestos roof.
The demolition and re-siting of the barn lead to the second element in Sturts’ development – the reorganisation of the farmyard. Much of this consists of dilapidated, crumbling brick buildings with unsafe roofs and although possessing a quaint romantic charm, they do not meet the demands of an agricultural environment involving individuals who are supported.
The third element in Sturts’ long-term development plan is to build and create a purpose- designed food market hall, serving customers with wholesome, ethical, sustainable and affordable produce. This will be located on the site of the existing barn at Gulliver’s Farm, which is adjacent to and belongs to Sturts. The farm shop at Gulliver’s has already undergone several spurts of growth since it opened in 2015, in response to its ever-increasing popularity in the wider neighbourhood.
The Camphill Foundation UK & Ireland is honoured to have supported the early stages of such an exciting and ambitious development plan.
To find out more, please visit www.sturtscommunitytrust.org.uk