By Connor Briggs
Kirkstall Valley Farm could soon become your new “big back garden” with the team having huge plans for the Kirkstall green space.
Throughout 12 months’ of hard work from volunteers and staff, a large green space on the site has received a facelift with the area becoming a social space for guests.
With the help of staff, volunteers, and contributions from the Leeds Payback Scheme, the area has a range of uses including children’s play schemes and venue hire, with further plans in the pipeline.
The renovation took place over a former allotment with the space been refurbished into an area with a covered kitchen, hot water, stoves, marquees, and a shelter surrounded by open space.
Adele Rae, chief executive at Kirkstall Valley Development Trust (KVDT), which runs the farm, said: “It’s been a gradual period of evolvement, we’ve got fantastic volunteers and staff and Leeds City Council have supported us and gave us funding.
“Everybody has mucked in to do the bits they can do, it gives us a designated area for social events, and it gives us an income which helps us support the farm. My vision for the farm is eventually during the day people can wander in and just sit down and enjoy the space. Roger [Plumtree], our farm director, describes it as a big back garden.
“Children respond so well to the site, they’re happy here and they get to run around while their parents can relax. For single parents or parents struggling, it’s a place they can come have a chat, a cupper, and relax while their children are playing.”
Ms Rae describes the benefits of being outside: “It’s incredible to think the A65 runs just outside the gate but you can’t hear it. It’s so good for your well-being, de-stressing, and it just makes you feel good. (Being outside) you can feel the stress lifting off you.”
A huge contribution to the renovations was from the Payback Scheme, in which those found guilty of crimes will contribute to hours of work into the community.
Ms Rae added: “We have anything from a couple of lads to about 12 who are just phenomenal, we couldn’t do what we do without the community Payback and it’s important to us that we offer them a varied range of things to do and skills to learn. KVDT is a family and that includes probation”.
Keith Hodgson volunteers at the site. Reflecting on the work he said: “It’s really rewarding and as times gone on, I’ve got more involved and we’re now seeing the benefits of the time put in.
“There’s quite a comradery between the groups of people so you become friends with other volunteers, and there’s a reward of something to show for your time.”
The space is available to hire for functions such as weddings and events. Contact the venue at 07900986570 or visit https://kirkstallvalleyfarm.org.uk/.