Leeds & West Yorkshire

Stirley community farm comes back to life

Brian Lavell and Kim Warren look at the vegetables
Image caption The farm aims to reduce food miles and be carbon neutral

In the shadow of Castle Hill, near Huddersfield, a derelict dairy business is being brought back to life as a community farm.

Stirley Farm, a 100-acre site, has been disused for almost a decade.

The farm is now being used again, with the help of grants of £600,000.

Brian Lavell of the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust (YWT) said: "Rather than take on a working farm with its existing wildlife, we want to start and add to the diversity."

Mr Lavell, the YWT's West Yorkshire programme manager, added: "This is not an isolated nature reserve, we want to work on a landscape scale."

The farmland lies between Newsome, Almondbury and Honley. Work has started and there are two full-time staff and a team of volunteers.

Regular volunteer work parties and a gardening club learning to grow food are already being held.

When work is complete, in 2012, Stirley Farm will run education and agri-environment programmes. It will also have a commercial beef herd.

'Exciting and scary'

Local schools and colleges will visit the farm to learn more about growing food.

Kim Warren, the farm's education and training officer, said: "We will provide the opportunity to get a big range of land management and farming skills."

The farm aims to reduce food miles by supplying a demand for local food.

There are also plans for a community barn to be available for the use of local groups.

The restoration of other farm buildings and barns will be done by local people under supervision.

Mr Lavell admitted: "Rebuilding this farm is exciting and scary."

Vegetable beds have been dug and some produce is already being harvested.

The Veolia Environmental Trust recently awarded £300,00 to the project.

Stirley Farm was one of only four projects in the UK - and the only northern enterprise - to benefit out of about 1,000 applicants.

Nearly £300,000 has also been awarded by the Big Lottery Fund Local Food Initiative.

A local food fair will be held at the farm on Sunday 4 September to celebrate the start of the project.

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