FEATURE: Couple share their ‘Eden project’ with community

Hannah and Chris Bevins on Peter's Eden Farm in Friskey. ANL-160610-121100001
Hannah and Chris Bevins on Peter's Eden Farm in Friskey. ANL-160610-121100001
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No-one would feel alone near Boris the donkey. When he spots you he gives an ‘eee-aw’ from across the field and he’s right there beside you hoping for a cuddle.

The magic of the countryside is exactly why a couple from Oakham gave up life in the fast lane to buy a smallholding in the fens of Friskney – and now schools and groups across the county are getting the opportunity of sharing a taste of the good life.

“As well as the education side there is a lot of evidence of the benefits of spending time in open spaces and with animals for people with conditions such as post traumatic stress, so we invited a number of groups we thought might benefit.”

Hannah Bevins

Hannah Bevins was running a veterinary lab and her husband, Chris, was a motor sport engineer travelling the world with the Audi team when they got the call of the wild.

Trying to juggle careers with family life hadn’t been easy. Hannah said: “We have three sons but Chis was away quite a lot. We thought life’s too short, so, in 2006, we gave it all up and bought 13 acres at Friskney, some chickens, two pigs and a lamb from North Sea Camp.

And so Peter’s Eden Farm was born and, with farmers’ markets booming, their jams, chutneys and citrus fruit cordial was flying off the shelves. But even living the dream has its challenges and a hold-up over the naming of the cordial which cost them a year out of production saw them taking a new direction – becoming a care farm.

Now, one of only two care farms in the county - the other is at Hill Hold Wood, Norton Disney - Hannah and Chris are sharing their love of the country by educating others of the benefits.

Two open days were held recently to introduce schools and other groups to the Askefield Project, which is linked to LandEd.

Hannah said: “We were so lucky to be introduced to the programme at just the right time when interest in farmers’ markets was waning. We’d taken some bottle fed lambs to a disabled group in Boston and were told about LandEd. We joined the programme as a prospective Care Farm to become full members.

“The open days were about raising the profile of the project and the proven therapeutic benefits of spending time on the farm.

“As well as the education side there is a lot of evidence of the benefits of spending time in open spaces and with animals for people with conditions such as post traumatic stress, so we invited a number of groups we thought might benefit.

“The Askefield Project is renting the farm from us for two days and we are running a LandEd programme here on the other days.

“What they do when they come is entirely up to the groups - they can feed the animals or get involved in building.”

A toilet block designed by their 16-year-old son, Peter, who has been awarded an Arkwright Scholarship in engineering to support him through A-levels at Skegness Grammar School, is currently under construction and visitors to the open day enjoyed baked potatoes cooked by Hannah’s mum, Liz Burbridge, in a barn made of crates.

Hannah said: “Mum’s been brilliant. She came with us and was in the kitchen making jams and chutney. The cordial is on hold at the moment but it’s ready to go again when we are ready. At the moment we are busy setting the programme up.”

Willoughby School in Bourne was one of the groups attending the open days. Tina Crawley, teaching assistant, said: “The students in our academy group thoroughly enjoyed the experience of being at the farm and so close to the animals, learning about their different food, habitats and personalities. When one of the students was asked which was his favourite animal he replied ‘I think it’s the donkey…and the pig…and the goat…oh and the sheep’, so it’s safe to say he enjoyed them all.”

l For more information about the farm call Hannah on 07754232873.