AN AWARD-WINNING farming project in Winsford that transforms lives has received the ‘rubber stamp of approval' from the Cheshire agricultural establishment.

Let’s Farm is a collaboration between Darnhall farmer, Rosie Lee, and learning disability expert, Nicola Colenso, which strives to bring real purpose to the lives of over-18s living with learning disabilities.

Many of its staff - called 'rangers' - have struggled to find their niche after leaving full-time education, but the project offer them valuable skills, meaningful relationships, and a chance to experience the ups and downs of life on a 100-acre working farm.

The project has attracted praise from disability champions from across the county and beyond, but it now seems farmers themselves are paying attention. 

Earlier this month, Rosie and Nicola were contacted by judges of the Cheshire County Farms Competition, who awarded them first prize in the 'innovation' category of their 2023 awards.

Northwich Guardian: Let's Farm rangers really get stuck-in to all the jobs on the farmLet's Farm rangers really get stuck-in to all the jobs on the farm (Image: Let's Farm)

Nicola explained how amazing it felt to be acknowledged by an organisation at the very heart of the Cheshire farming establishment. 

“We’ve got their rubber stamp of approval, and it feels brilliant”, she said.

“The innovative class is all about farm diversification. A lot of farmers are moving into making their own ice-cream, and opening activity centres with coffee shops and things like that.

“Ours is a very different idea, but just as innovative, if not more so. We're unique. 

“Rosie’s background is in farming, and mine is in disability education. We just brought the two together, and that’s the innovative thing about it.

“That this award that comes from within the very heart of the farming community just proves we’re doing something valuable, and that we’re respected.

“It’s all very surreal. We’re only 20 months into this project, and to have such prestigious recognition is such a huge privilege.

“We had the judges around earlier in the year, then a phone call came two weeks ago to say we’d won. We were astounded."

Northwich Guardian: Let's Farm rangers learn how to look after goats, sheep, pigs, cows, horses and chickensLet's Farm rangers learn how to look after goats, sheep, pigs, cows, horses and chickens (Image: Let's Farm)

Nicola and Rosie hope to take some of the rangers with them to the awards ceremony in November. 

Nicola added: “The rangers are so pleased and proud.

“When the judges came round, they spoke to the rangers about why they come and why they like it. They spoke very personally about their own lives and experiences, and how things have changed by coming to us.

“One young man told them how he’d been sat at home for six years, and how this had opened-up a whole new world for him.

“It's great to get such positive feedback. Now we know we’re doing something others can see there's a demand for.”