Project to help families get closer to nature

Jackie Donovan from Hundred River Maize Valley Farm is setting up a new social enterprise at the far

Jackie Donovan from Hundred River Maize Valley Farm is setting up a new social enterprise at the farm. PHOTO: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

A farm is aiming to encourage children and families to get closer to nature by running special activity sessions.

The Hundred River Farm in Sotterley, which is well-known for its maize maze, is launching a crowdfunding campaign to raise £10,000 to improve the farm’s facilities and put on weekly events.

The scheme will be officially launched on September 17 with a family fun day and it is hoped the money can be raised in three months.

Contributing £80 will get you six months’ membership to the farm for an adult and child (£30 for additional children and £20 for additional adults) and for £150, donors will get a year’s membership (£50 for additional children and £30 for additional adults).

Membership gets you access to weekly sessions for £1 per person as well as other special events and perks.

There will also be smaller rewards for supporters making smaller contributions, including giant bubble kits, branded canvas bags, experience days and gift vouchers for the maize maze.

They plan on beginning the new sessions in January - with different sessions aimed at specific kinds of visitors.

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There will be activities especially designed for grandparents and young children, as well as activities for disabled people to do with their carers. And although they will initially be aimed at children, the sessions are for the whole family to get involved with.

Chloe Donovan grew up regularly visiting the farm, which belongs to her family, and is helping to organise the new social project.

She said: “It’s going to be something parents, grandparents, careers can engage with as well, a bonding experience doing tasks together focussed on farming and nature.”

The farm is planning to build a sensory garden for disabled visitors, and some of the sessions will be getting people involved in the building.

They are also setting up a platform to allow them to run pond dipping - while the farm’s cows, chickens and pigs will also be the focus on some of the groups.

“We’ve seen how much children love being outside and saying hello to the animals,” she said. “We want to help teach children about how food is grown and how you look after those animals.

“And there’s a huge amount of wildlife here - we’ve got eight different kinds of bats, we’ve got barn owls, buzzards - there’s so much.

“I used to take it all for granted because I’ve always been able to come and get involved in that side of things.

“What we want to build is a community of people who want to come and enjoy the outdoors, learn about nature and help us build facilities that other people can use as well.

“People need to have a basic understanding of the natural world. People nowadays do appreciate the benefits of eating organic, local food but children aren’t getting that education through schools.”

Miss Donovan will be working on the project alongside her mother Jackie.

She said: “We want to take children out of the classroom so they can learn by doing. Getting them outdoors is an amazing sensory experience for everybody and takes them away from the constraints of everyday life.”

For more on the project, search Hundred River Maize Maze on Facebook or email