Guest blog post by Beth Hollihead

How one volunteer found Greenslate Community Farm, got herself an allotment and now regularly organises events for the local community.

I’ve been volunteering at Greenslate for about 5 years, I think. My husband and I first visited the farm one cold and sleety December weekend, for a Christmas Fair, about two years after moving into the area.

Father Christmas in a Teepee

Our son, not yet 2, met Father Christmas for the first time ever in a teepee, and we spent hours talking to the volunteers who worked the (outdoor) bread oven and showed off the animals. I think it’s fair to say we fell a bit in love with the farm that day.

Before too long, we showed up to a Saturday afternoon volunteering session, and had loads of fun moving fence lines, corralling sheep, and chatting to the many people who played a part in keeping the farm going.

Allotment

A year later, we had an allotment plot there, and suddenly it became harder to give up our Saturdays to farming – we were raising our own vegetables (well, nettles, largely) and as with most families, finding it hard enough to give that the time it required…

My husband satisfied his farming dreams with some ad hoc woodland management days, chopping wood, laying paths, and planning for the future. I joined the Greenslate management Board, a committee which oversees all activity and strategy at the farm. Suddenly I was in deep, and part of many decisions about how the farm worked, and what direction it might take next.

After my time on the board I had a new understanding and respect for the many different strands to the activities of the farm, and how much effort goes into keeping them all ticking over for the benefit of the local community.

Events team

Now, I’m part of a team who organise the regular and one-off events at the farm. I’m playing to my strengths I suppose – it means I don’t have to stress about finding time every week, and as a project manager by profession, I get to use my skills in a fun and therapeutic environment. It keeps me involved in my “happy place”, and on my own terms.

What do we do? We meet, every few weeks, in the run up to any of our regular seasonal events like the recent Easter Fair, and similar events at Halloween, Christmas and in the summer. We arrange stalls, we decide on activities and food and drink offerings, and we make the necessary arrangements, including recruiting volunteers to staff each stall, and creating shopping lists etc for the craft items, or food stuffs we might need on the day.

I love knowing that these efforts create a great day for many people in the local community, and I love being part of the fun on the days themselves, rain or shine – serving sangria, or hot chocolate, or painting faces for dozens of happy, mucky kids. I also love knowing that the events I help to organise raise much-needed funds to keep our animals fed, and our lights on, open to the public 7 days a week, all year-round.

Getting involved

If YOU would like to do something for the local community, but maybe don’t think you’re the farming type – contact Greenslate Farm about the many other ways you can contribute to this community asset.

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