An organic farm will be opening as a care farm to give adults with special needs a chance to learn land skills and sell the produce they grow.
The Gazegill Education Project, a Rimington-based community interest company, will welcome its first 15 students in September.
They will be growing and selling a range of organic herbs under the title Carefully Grown and these will be appearing on the shelves of garden centres and shops costing no more than the usual producers.
But the basil, coriander, parsley, thyme and so on will also have a potted history of the project and the personal story of the person who grew it.
Farmer Ian O’Reilly has been helped to establish the company by Enterprising People In Ribble Valley associate Janet Fraser.
Ian’s wife, Emma, was born on Gazegill Farm and her family has farmed the 250 acres in Rimington for 500 years.
He said: “We have been providing a home for students with special needs from Craven College for about two years, but the company that managed the programme ceased trading.
“Rather than see it disappear we decided to try to set up as a training provider in our own right.
“Janet has taken our ideas and made them a reality. She has helped us to set it up properly, establish a community interest company and apply for grants.
“We have a polytunnel where herbs will be grown and we’ve also put a grant into the Big Lottery Reaching Communities Building Fund to construct a training kitchen.”
As well as the land-based studies, students on the original project were also being given catering experience. If the go-ahead is given for the kitchen, Gazegill will be able to offer those students cookery and hygiene skills.
They will be shown how to preserve fruit grown on the organic farm si it can be sold locally.
Ian said: “We’re hoping the company will become self-financing through the produce being sold and any profits will be ploughed back in. We hope in the long-term to be able to offer bursaries for students who cannot afford to attend.”
For more information visit www.gazegillorganics.org.uk or call 01200 445519.
For more information on Enterprising People in Ribble Valleycall 01200 323992.