If you are short on time here is the summary!
organicARTS is charity that promotes the arts and rural issues through volunteering opportunities, educational visits & walks, classes, workshops, community projects, exhibitions and performances. We love being based at West Town Farm and are very lucky to have access to the farm, but not everyone is so privileged. We work with many different people including, on two days a week, groups of disadvantaged adults who volunteer in our community garden. We work with people with mental health issues, learning difficulties, physical disability, head injuries, recovering from drug and alcohol misuse and homeless people etc. Many people who we work with don’t have access to private transport and we are not accessible by public transport. So what is our problem? Our minibus is coming towards the end of its life and is increasingly unreliable and costly to repair. So far we have raised £22,500 of the £30,000 needed for a new one. The new minibus will provide essential transport for our existing groups but also extend the offer to a wider range of groups and organisations. Offering a unique service in the Exeter area, providing an opportunity to visit a working farm engaging in activities on the land and using natural materials in fresh air, for any groups or individuals who need to improve their physical and mental health.
Thank you so much for your interest and support, please help us by spreading the word!We would like to say a huge thank you to Kevin Clifford for helping us make our video!
Alistair says volunteering in our community gardenhelps to boost his mental health
For Ian, it gets him out of the house and into the community
For those who have a little longer here is our story...
Who are we?
organicARTS run a charitable arts and education centre at West Town Farm, a working organic farm on the outskirts of Exeter in Devon
See our short film here about some of the work we do. http://vimeo.com/40157399
Who do we work with?
We work with many different people including, on two days a week, groups of disadvantaged adults who volunteer in our community garden. We work with people with mental health issues, learning difficulties, physical disability, head injuries, recovering from drug and alcohol misuse and homeless people etc.
Photo: Clare HenryOur community garden then…
organicARTS began 11 years ago and we started work on the community garden in 2007 with a group of women who were recovering from mental illnesses. The first job was to clear the space which was head high in thistles, brambles and nettles. Then the farm lent us some pigs who dug the vegetable plot which we had to fence in to keep out the rampant Ide rabbits!
A milestone for our garden group happened at the end of 2008 when we were given a second hand minibus by RAG at the University of Exeter allowing us to bring more people out to the garden each day.
Now it is a thriving garden with amongst other things a large vegetable plot, a fruit cage, a poly tunnel, a pond, a self built shed, mushroom posts, trees, bees, shrubs and flowers, willow and dye plants. The volunteers cook a large pot of soup using the vegetables they grow for everyone on the farm on those days.
The garden is also used as an educational resource during many of our educational visits and as a place for workshops and is a favourite space for many during our open days.
What are the benefits?
The benefits of outdoor and creative activities are well documented for improving physical and mental health and well-being.
Working with our garden volunteers we see improvements in self-esteem, self-confidence, independent thinking and activity, their ability to care for themselves and others, knowledge of healthy food, how it grows and how to process it, learning new and transferable skills – site maintenance, cooking, creative activities, processing materials, respect for the countryside and the creatures and plants that live here, walking in all weathers, the ability to focus, social skills and the ability to create friendships which extend outside the project. All these culminate in an improved quality of life. There are also benefits to society in reduced costs to the tax payer through reduced use of the health service, social services, law enforcement and benefits.What else do we do?
We offer a unique service in the Exeter area, providing an opportunity to visit a working farm engaging in activities on the land and using natural materials in fresh air. The work we do involves learning about food, farm and the environment and also creative activities using natural materials like clay, wood, wool, willow, charcoal, earth pigments and natural dyes. Activities can happen during educational visits, public and private workshops, walks, parties and away days. Some of the educational visits are with groups of low income families, elderly people and refugee groups as well as young people and school children of different abilities.What is our problem?
There is one thing which unites most of these people with those who work in the community garden, that is the lack of access to their own transport and unfortunately the farm is not on a public transport route.Sadly our current minibus is reaching the end of its useful life for us and we urgently need a new one, not only to continue our current work but also to expand and do more regular work with low income families, elderly people and refugee groups and to help community groups and schools to come and work with us through providing reasonably priced transport.We love and benefit from working at West Town Farm and we’re sure you love and benefit from visiting the countryside, it is something we often take for granted, so please help disadvantaged people do the same by contributing and you will benefit from some of the wonderful rewards we have on offer.Together we can make this happen, so far we have raised £22,500 and we need you to help us to raise the remaining £7,500, so that we can reach our goal of £30,000 needed for a new minibus.
Thank you so much for your interest and support, please help us by spreading the word to friends, family, colleagues and social media contacts.