What we do
We offer meaningful land-based activities and training to any individual or group of students in a relaxed, happy atmosphere. We believe in the therapeutic value of working with plants and animals, which has been shown to reduce stress, resulting in better physical and mental well-being. We have our own evidence for this too, shown in the many smiles we see around the centre each day!
Since its inception in 2000 the centre has undergone a continuous transformation from old gravel settlement beds, to a green oasis of over 50 raised beds, orchards, ponds, polytunnels, green buildings and stock accommodation. The students have been truly involved with every development to create what is now Wildgoose Rural Training Centre, creating a tremendous sense of ownership and pride in what everybody has worked together to create.
Organic and permaculture principles underlie the development and maintenance of the site and we were delighted to become a Permaculture Land Demonstration and Learning Site in 2011.
Our students arrive through a variety of routes including:
Personal budgets: We welcome people with learning disabilities, autism and mental health issues in our groups to help with the running of the centre. We offer experience and qualifications at entry level and level 1 in land-based subjects. Nowadays, many of these people access services through using a personal budget from the local authority. Please click here to see our personalisation page for more details.
Social Services: We have worked with people who come as part of a block contract with Worcestershire Social Services for over ten years. Students are referred to us via social workers and day centres. However, this style of referral is being reduced and replaced with people using their personal budgets.
Schools: We welcome students from mainstream schools and offer qualifications at entry level, level 1 and level 2. We also work with students from special schools and pupil referral units who are seeking opportunities to build practical skills in land-based subjects and green building techniques. Please download our promotional A4 sheet for schools here.
Playgroups: We offer farm and forest experiences to local under 5’s during the summer term.
As a land based centre our activities naturally follow the seasons:
Spring: We sow seeds in the polytunnels ready to plant out, we get involved with the lambing and the rearing of chicks. We also repair structures and maintain paths around the site. We go into the farm woodland and cook our produce for lunch and make charcoal on a campfire. Egg production rises with the increased daylight and we collect every day.
Summer: We look after the salads, vegetables and fruit, harvesting and preparing them for sale. The pigs enjoy a wallow in the mud when it’s hot! The grass needs mowing and strimming.
Autumn: Our ripe produce is harvested to make jams, jellies, juice and chutneys in the kitchen. Once harvesting is complete we tidy the raised beds and polytunnels ready for next year. Often, this is the time of year Gertie the sow has piglets which provide a lot of fun and activities to look after them. Our well equipped woodwork area comes into its own for activities as the weather begins to change.
Winter: We make sure there is water for the animals, sometimes chipping the ice off the water troughs when it’s really bitter! We make holly wreaths and prepare our ‘christmas chickens’ and pork for the festive season. We harvest willow and hazel for weaving later in the year and saw firewood for the woodburner. We make soups, curries and bread to keep out the chills whilst in the cosy kitchen, looking through the seed catalogues and planning for the coming year.