Methwold farm plans include specialist support days and holiday lets
Children with ADHD, autism and Asperger’s will be supported through animal therapy sessions at a proposed village petting farm.
Cherry Tree Farm in Methwold is in the process of becoming a “community interest company” which will serve the general public within a 50-mile radius.
As well as specialist support days, the farm will be offering free admission to children in care or foster care, as well as holiday lets for families affected by dementia.
Owner Tracy Peckham said: “What we will be offering will be unique. No other tourist attraction closes for a single day to allow others to enjoy the site, but we are.
“The children with ADHD, autism or Asperger’s can come for a private day, which will be advertised so the parents can get their referrals sent in to us.”
Parents will be able to book onto allocated dates through their referral.
Mrs Peckham added: “The parents can meet up and chat, and offer support to one another without the general public, so on our specialist days all the parents will know that it’s a private day just for their children and they can relax a little more.”
The petting farm currently has 100 animals including American miniature ponies, Nigerian dwarf goats, Indian runner ducks, ewes and rare breed sheep.
With 14 volunteers and two work experience pupils currently helping at the farm, Mrs Peckham said the new specialist days will require more funding and staff.
Funds are required for smaller individual paddocks with shelter and seating for a one-to-one service being offered.
Storm Dennis smashed a new polytunnel which was built to bring in rescue animals, rabbits and guinea pigs.
This damage was described as “heartbreaking and devastating to wake up to” as feed bins, bedding and window panels were all affected.
Mrs Peckham said the farm also requires disabled paths and parking, as well as a new petting barn so the children and animals will be undercover in bad conditions.
And work will begin on a visitor centre when enough funds have been raised. This will include a special room adapted for dementia clients.
Mrs Peckham said the overall project, including the petting farm, is three-and-a-half years of planning.
Methwold Parish Council has backed the plans, while the Woodland Trust has granted 345 trees to be planted in November.
The farm held 20 open days last year to show the public what they are planning, as well as introducing the animals they look after.
“We also wanted to get people’s opinions on camping, caravanning or staying in a log cabin on site, and perhaps enjoying some fishing,” Mrs Peckham continued.
“The feedback was excellent. We learned a lot about our clientele, staffing, animals to purchase or rescue, and from this we learnt priceless information.
“Some of our clients had children that have ADHD, Autism and Asperger’s and watching those children cuddle the animals, brush them, feed them or just pick them up was amazing. The laughs and smiles are heart warming.”
The idea for holiday lets, log cabins and fishing came from Mrs Peckham’s former role as a dementia carer covering England and Wales.
In return for donations and sponsors, the farm is offering advertisement through banners, boards, social media and even on staff uniforms if appropriate.
Those wishing to support should contact the Cherry Tree Farm team on 07470 220231 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The farm will be hosting 'Mini Mucker' days on Saturday, April 4 and Sunday, April 5 in which youngsters can learn how to look after an animal.
It is open to children aged from 3 to 16-years-old, then another event on the 11th will be open to the general public.
"We only open on certain days throughout the year as at the moment we are all volunteer led," Mrs Peckham explained.