YOUNG people with learning disabilities are being trained as farm rangers thanks to an innovative community project in Winsford.

NFU members Nicola Colenso and farmer Rosie Lee have been inviting young adults to a 100-acre mixed farm at Stocks Hill in Darnhall as part of Let's Farm.

The exciting project gives people a real experience of working on a farm, which Nicola and Rosie believe could be widely beneficial.

Now more than 30 trainee farm rangers attend weekly from all over Cheshire, taking part in farming life, from daily stock duties and caring for the animals, to conservation and environmental work.

Nicola said: “Let’s Farm is not just a farm, it's a dynamic learning space where the beauty of nature meets the power of education.

"Our facilities are specially designed to cater for the diverse needs of our participants, ensuring that everyone can fully engage in the learning process.

“All the activities on farm have a great impact on both the rangers and the environment. The rangers make new friendships, learn, and they are working on their employability skills, which is woven through everything we do on the farm.

Northwich Guardian: Rosie Lee and Nicola Colenso at Let's FarmRosie Lee and Nicola Colenso at Let's Farm (Image: NFU)

"Our rangers have an unbelievable experience while working as a team.”

Farmer Rosie said: “The rangers are learning every skill needed to be a farmer. We teach them about sustainability, growing their own produce and where their food comes from.

“The rangers have been getting involved in the local farming community and participate in local agricultural shows.

"They have shown their Shropshire sheep and lambs at the Cheshire Show and the Nantwich Show. They have celebrated many a rosette win and we’re all extremely proud of them.”

NFU Cheshire county adviser Helen Wainwright said: “Let’s Farm is such a fantastic project giving people the opportunity to become farmers and learning about where their food comes from.

Northwich Guardian: Sheep at Let's FarmSheep at Let's Farm (Image: NFU)

“Cheshire is a big farming community so it’s really great to have this in the area giving people these experiences to hopefully help them gain life skills and employment in the future.”

The farm at Stocks Hill has developed over the years thanks to grants, which have enabled the addition of more animals and new buildings where the trainees improve their skills, such as horticulture, woodwork and rural crafts.

Nicola and Rosie's next steps are to make the farm as sustainable as possible and they are looking at carrying out lots of environmental work including hedgerow and tree planting, and creating wildlife habitats.

The workers at Let’s Farm range in age from 18 to 35 and many have continued to come to the farm since 2021 when it first started welcoming people with learning difficulties, creating a mutually supportive community – older students help the new ones learn about life on the farm.

Nicola said: “There’s a really good sense that the farm is a setting where they can not only take part, but they can succeed and achieve and really make a difference.

“There really is a sense of achievement here, stemming from the mutual benefit that is happening between the students and the farm.”