A COUNTY care farm has taken the first step towards the construction of a £1million visitor centre and educational base thanks to support from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Wildgoose Rural Training has received initial support from the fund for the project which it hopes will safeguard an important wildlife habitat in Worcestershire.
The farm recently acquired 42 acres of land at the site of a former gravel quarry near Top Barn Farm in Holt which has evolved into an area of significant ecological importance due to its diverse wildlife,flora and fauna.
Development funding of £94,400 has also been awarded to help the farm progress their plans to apply for a full grant at a later date.
In addition to enabling access for local people who have a passion and interest in the wonderful wildlife of Worcestershire, the reserve will become a centre for learning and support, particularly for adults with additional needs and children excluded, or at risk of exclusion, from school.
Since its inception in 2000 the centre has undergone a continuous transformation from old gravel settlement beds, to a green oasis of more than 50 raised beds, orchards, ponds, polytunnels, green buildings and stock accommodation
Wildgoose has offered people of all ages and abilities the opportunity to learn and experience rural life and offer meaningful land-based activities and training to any individual or group of students.
Thanks to money from Lotto players, the centre will offer free public access to the wetland with interactive activities to educate and engage visitors.
Themes will include the habitat, local agricultural and industrial history, and traditional skills, while celebrating the students who will learn and work there.
There are plans to establish a Worcestershire heritage orchard, create a unique interactive wildlife experience for the community and take visitors on a journey through the natural history of the county.
General manager Jim Hidderley, said: “This is an exciting project that will offer people the chance to volunteer, explore and enjoy a natural jewel in Worcester’s already rich crown.”
Vanessa Harbar, head of the Heritage Lotter Fund West Midlands, said: “We’re delighted that money raised by National Lottery players can be used to preserve Worcestershire’s important natural heritage and help more people to visit and learn about it.”