A DERELICT farm on the edge of Woking borough is being turned into a community facility aimed at helping improve the mental and physical health of local people.

Eight acres of Holme Farm were leased to a group of community volunteers a year ago by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). 

Since then, they have been clearing weeds and scrub and renovating the derelict buildings on the site, which is off Woodham Park Road, between Woodham and Ottershaw.

The volunteers have been helped by parties from surrounding large companies, families who home educate their children and Surrey Choices, a charity specialising in work training for people with learning difficulties.

Ronnie Kendall, founder of the Holme Farm Community Project, said the work has included clearing brambles, removing soil and weeds from access roads and replacing 150 broken panes of glass from a former barn and cowshed.

The group hopes to turn one of the buildings into a community workshop with woodworking tools and build extensions with a café, meeting room and toilets.

It is seeking to raise about £60,000 to prepare architects plans and other supporting documents for an application for a £2million grant from the Your Fund Surrey, which is run by Surrey County Council.

Holme Farm Community Project’s plans for the community facility. (Picture supplied)

The group is hoping to take up an offer from Defra to buy the rest of the 13-acre site later this year. Ronnie said sustainability and biodiversity is at the heart of the project.

Malcolm Cressey, chairman of the Holme Farm board of trustees, said the project has the backing of Runnymede Borough Council, Surrey County Council, the High Sheriff of Surrey, the Lord-Lieutenant of Surrey and Ashford & St Peters Hospital Trust.

Malcolm said he had been told that King Charles is aware of the Holme Farm project and to expect a “contact” from Buckingham Palace.

“We are hoping it will be a place to meet, make friends, and support those with learning difficulties, mental health issues and people less fortunate in society,” he said.

Fresh air sessions

THERE are volunteering sessions at Holme Farm on most Sunday mornings.

The group says they are an opportunity to get out in the fresh air and help make the site a wonderful place for wildlife, alongside a friendly group of like-minded conservationists.

Activities include habitat creation, vegetation clearance amd seed planting. No skills or experience are required, and tools and training are provided.

For details, visit www.holmefarm.org.uk, call 07718 896652 or email [email protected].