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All About Wildgoose Rural Training

Wildgoose Rural Training is a care farm based at Top Barn Farm just outside Hallow. They offer meaningful day opportunities for adults with learning difficulties and young people who may find the school environment a challenge. Jim Hidderley is the General Manager and tells us more. 

Tell us what goes on at Wildgoose Rural Training?
Our students undertake many activities associated with Agriculture, Horticulture, Animal Care, Woodworking, Cooking and Crafting. Many of our students find the family atmosphere and beautiful calm surrounding very conducive to their wellbeing. We have had many successes with our students and we have seen them go from strength to strength over a period of months and in some cases years. 

Tell us about the different kinds of people you work with 
We work with adults who may find learning, in the standard way, a difficult concept. We also help young people who are not able to cope with the classroom environment to gain valid qualifications that will help them pursue a career or further education in the future. We can work with anyone who loves fresh air and open spaces. We also have a number of dedicated volunteers who support our staff and students, they are amazing people who give up their time so readily.

Do the activities change with the seasons?
During the autumn we have been pressing apples to make cider and juice. In the summer months we are harvesting and preparing all sorts of fruit and vegetables to fill the freezers for the winter. Throughout the winter it is not unusual for there to be a warming soup on the stove or some cake to eat with a cup of tea. We love to work with the seasons and use what is abundant at different times of the year, this makes for a great learning experience.  

Why is ‘rural’ training so effective, do you think?
The Guardian recently ran a story about the benefits of working outdoors and how it helped to improve the mental health of those who worked in a rural setting. I don’t believe that we are wired to work and learn in a concrete box with artificial lighting! Most students ‘get by’ in the school environment, I am sure we have all noticed how kids (and adults) come alive when they can run, play and engage in a practical way. 

What are some of the highlights for you at Wildgoose Rural Training?
We have highlights every day and I often say to people that ‘I have the best job in the world, I get to make smiles’. That is what I love to see here, when a student has made progress (in whatever small or great way) they are proud and smile. Recently we have acquired 42 acres of land to relocate the care farm and establish a Wildlife Reserve for the benefit of the local community and Worcestershire in general. Heritage Lottery Fund are supporting us with a development grant towards a new visitor centre and creation of a programme of activities linked to the new reserve.

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We can also be contacted on (01905) 620840 or