First Farm Steps Main

First Farm Steps


About First Farm Steps...

This social enterprise, based on eight acres of land at Langwith, provides land-based employment, work placements, training, and volunteering opportunities for a range of people from targeted groups which include:

  • Unemployed people
  • Offenders and ex-offenders
  • Ex-service personnel with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Young people that are not in education, employment or training (NEET)
  • People with mental ill health
  • People with physical health problems
  • People with a learning disability

The Working Neighbourhoods Fund was used to secure the site with fencing and to cover the costs of skilled and experienced staff to complete the initial stages of operation.  Any income generated from activity such as the sale of produce, commissioned placements, training delivery, feed-in to the national grid from photovoltaics (solar power), green tourism, and philanthropic shares is put back into the business for the benefit of the community.

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First Farm Steps Contacts


Project Manager

Jennie Street
Rhubarb Farm CIC (Community Interest Company)
Hardwick Street
NG20 9DR
Tel: 01623 741210
Mobile: 07527 929592
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.




Open pdf documentLangwith Community Show Schedule
Open pdf document Rhubarb Farm Newsletter Issue 5
Open pdf document Rhubarb Farm Newsletter Issue 4
Open pdf document Rhubarb Farm Newsletter Issue 3
Open pdf document Rhubarb Farm Newsletter Issue 2
Open pdf document Rhubarb Farm Newsletter Issue 1

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First Farm Steps Case Studies

More Good News for Rhubarb Farm...

Rhubarb Farm has been awarded funding from the Home Office's Community Action Against Crime Innovation Fund.  This will enable 2 ex-offenders to be employed on a Community Supported Agriculture Scheme until March 2013. They will be working closely with Derbyshire Probation Trust, who will be putting candidates forward for the posts.


And the Winner is Rhubarb Farm!

The Prime Minister has extended his congratulations to the winning businesses of this nationwide scheme. He said: “Congratulations to all the winners of the Local Business Accelerators scheme. It’s brilliant that so many promising young companies, from such a wide range of sectors, are benefiting from this excellent initiative.” The winning business in the Mansfield Chad - community organisation Rhubarb Farm - will receive free advertising in the three editions of the Chad, worth more than £40,000 over a three-month period.


Case Study 3

J1 came to us as a self-referral after redundancy.  She was depressed and feeling lost and directionless. She started coming once a week as a volunteer getting involved in whatever work was happening on site.  She did not mind that she was often the only woman volunteer on site, and worked well alongside other volunteers, who were mostly younger than she is.  She gradually came to be a support for other volunteers, and even to the young staff, being both calm and helpful. 

In September she applied for and was interviewed for the Rhubarb Farm Youth Worker post, but was not the successful candidate, mainly because of her lack of experience working with NEETS.  This failure did not put her off continuing to come as a volunteer, and she now comes twice a week. We have had her CRB-checked because of her informal support for other volunteers, and hope that she may go on to become a Buddy Volunteer if we receive funding for the Rhubarb Buddies Project from Reaching Communities.

J1 herself has stated that she finds coming to Rhubarb Farm helps her to feel more positive about her life and future, and she enjoys the variety of activities. She has asked if she can shadow the new Youth Worker when she starts work, as this will give her more experience for her own CV.  We have welcomed this and will arrange for her to discuss her role with the Youth Worker in November.


Case Study 2

J came to Rhubarb Farm via Derbyshire Probation Trust to pay off a large amount of Community Service Order hours.

He settled in well and turned up reliably and on time. He worked hard, never complained if the work was hard or the weather was horrible. He was good at the growing because he had previously done a Level One Horticulture course, and wants to do horticulture for a living. As time went on and we got to know him better problems associated with his family life began to emerge, and we have been supporting him in discussing the issues on a one-to-one basis and have recently referred him to Family Employment Initiative to help him address the issues around his partner’s mental ill health. He has gradually opened up to us, as he came to trust us, and this has meant that we are able to help him with other things – his self-esteem, his lack of confidence in his own abilities, and his need to learn.

Over the three months that he has been coming to Rhubarb Farm he has developed into one of the strongest volunteers in terms of taking on responsibility for some things, e.g. helping other volunteers on specific tasks. He has also attended a mental health awareness course run by Disability Dynamics.

Courses at Rhubarb Farm...

Rhubarb Farm will be running several courses in the run up to winter, so wrap up warm and come along to grow it, pick it, work it, eat it!

Wood carving: A one day session on 25 October from 10-12.30pm.  Learn how to carve and then preserve the simple object you create during the session.


Wood working: A practical two day course providing an opportunity to learn different woodworking methods and create your own item.  Monday 10 and Monday 17 October from 10-3pm.
Both of the courses above are free to adults who are not working and live in Bolsover district.
Pick it, cook it, eat it: Cookery for young parents. This will be a 3-session course, 9.30-12 noon, dates still to be arranged in October.  This will be for young people with small children, looking at how we can feed our children economically, and healthily.  Emphasis will be on easy and quick dishes which can be taken home at the end of the sessions.
Healthy eating, keep it beating: For people who have mental ill health, this is a two day course from 10.00 - 2.30pm on Tuesday 18 and Tuesday 25 October.   How to cook and eat healthily, it will involve cooking delicious dishes both to eat in and take home (using some ingredients from produce grown at Rhubarb Farm) and a soup to cook at home in between the two sessions, with ingredients provided.
CV writing: This will be a 2.5 hour session for people who are unemployed and want to improve the way they present themselves to prospective employers.   Dates to be confirmed.
Interviewing techniques: This will be a 2.5 hour session for people who are unemployed and want to improve the way they present themselves at interview.  Dates to be confirmed.


All courses will take place at Rhubarb Farm.  For more details or to book a place, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , phone 07527 929592 or visit the
Rhubarb Farm website.

Click to download the Growing Vegetables course poster

Grow Your Own

Rhubarb Farm will be running a four-week Growing Vegetables course during September and October 2011.  This will mark the start of a programme of courses and workshops being delivered this Autumn.

The Growing Vegetables course will teach the basics of growing delicious organic vegetables over four Saturdays starting on 17 September, and will cover:

  • Week one - Soil, organic fertilisers and composting
  • Week two - Which vegetables to start with and ground preparation
  • Week three - Growing and caring for crops
  • Week four - Organic liquid fertilisers and harvest

The course costs £40 in advance or £12 per session, but is FREE to unemployed residents of Bolsover District.  Places are limited so booking is essential.

For more information, or to book a place telephone 01623 741210 (Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays), email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or check out the Rhubarb Farm website.


Case Study 1

M brought himself to Rhubarb Farm, turning up one day to ask to volunteer, saying he likes to grow his own vegetables at home, but wanted to be involved with others.  He is in his early 20s and has both mild learning difficulties and some history of difficulty with anger management and low level crime.  He is currently on a work training programme.  His history of anger management has brought him into difficulties with previous placements. He has also suffered discrimination and hostility in his own community because of his behaviour.

Our horticulturist has held meetings with him and is assessing how Rhubarb Farm can manage him as a volunteer.  We have found that when working with others, or on a one-to-one basis with another volunteer or member of staff, if he is slightly separate from the larger group he can cope well.  He is calmer and more able to manage what he does.  He has good knowledge of growing and enjoys quite strenuous work.  He is already responding to advice and guidance from us, and says he feels accepted and comfortable at Rhubarb Farm.  We feel that for M we are offering him a role and a place that is inclusive, and where he can feel safe.

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First Farm Steps Outputs


Outputs 08/09

Unemployed people gaining employment

    5 8 13

16-18 year olds going into EET

    1 11 12
Jobs created     7 13 20
Volunteering opportunities created       125 125
People accessing volunteering opportunities     13 142 155
People on out-of-work benefits supported with health needs     3 66 69
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First Farm Steps Archive


2011/12 Year End

The Rhubarb Farm site has seen significant developments during Quarter 4 including the reception and office containers now being operational, the fencing around the whole site being installed, a bug hotel being created and a wildlife/pond area being dug out.

Volunteers have delivered 1548 hours over the quarter and regular visits from groups and organisations continue including young people that are NEET. Nine apprentices joined the staff team in February covering a range of duties on site and will be completing an NVQ qualification.

Informal learning continues at Rhubarb Farm, from heath related discussions to healthy eating and cooking activity. Rhubarb Farm won a Healthy Places award this quarter also which recognises the work at Rhubarb Farm in promoting healthy eating. 

Rhubarb Farm has been extremely successful in engaging with the hardest to reach, particularly those with mental health issues and/or offender backgrounds, and offers a very supportive and caring environment to assist moving people closer to the labour market.  Although funding through the WNF ceased at the end of March 2012, much of the work at Rhubarb Farm will continue.  However, this is dependent on the organisation securing ongoing funding until enough income is generated to achieve sustainability.

  • Veg Box Scheme launched
  • Apprentices employed
  • Rhubarb Farm becomes Credit Union collection point
  • Courses include Willow Weaving, Wood Carving, Composting Toilet Construction.
2011/12 Quarter 3

A lot has been happening at Rhubarb Farm during Q3:

  • Day to day running has continued with crop planting etc and informal learning continues.
  • The office container was insulated by Westville who generously donated all materials and labour free of charge, worth £6,000. 
  • Site Manager ran a course in pizza oven construction and a deluxe second pizza oven now sits beside the first. 
  • A group of NEETs built a smokery.  The fire tunnel of the first model they built collapsed when the fire was lit, which was an excellent opportunity for the young people to learn that failure can be overcome, because they re-designed the tunnel, rebuilt it, and it worked perfectly.  
  • Community Service Order teams continued to clear dead wood from the hedges and finished clearing the top end of the two acre site ready for its development as a wildlife area.

And the Winner is Rhubarb Farm!

The Prime Minister has extended his congratulations to the winning businesses of this nationwide scheme. He said: "Congratulations to all the winners of the Local Business Accelerators scheme. It's brilliant that so many promising young companies, from such a wide range of sectors, are benefiting from this excellent initiative." The winning business in the Mansfield Chad - community organisation Rhubarb Farm - will receive free advertising in the three editions of the Chad, worth more than $40,000 over a three-month period.

2011/12 Quarter 2

A lot has been happening at Rhubarb Farm during Quarter 2, some key areas of activity include:

  • Approval from Environmental Heath for the café
  • Community Service Order teams have started clearing the top end of the two acre site, ready for conversion to a wildlife area
  • 63 visitors have been in site this quarter and 20 new volunteers from the Bolsover district
  • In total, 41 new volunteers resulting in 193 volunteer days and 986.25 volunteer hours being worked on site
  • A group of 3-5 people with learning disabilities comes to site every Thursday from Whitwell Park Nursing Home
  • Delivering Enrichment Opportunities for a group of 5-8 NEETs every three weeks for ACORN Training in Ripley.
  • Derbyshire Probation Trust continues to send work teams of young men on Community Payback
  • A second corporate volunteering day took place on 28 September.  Eleven staff from Jobcentres did a day’s work
  • Rhubarb Farm is in discussion with the Bolsover Apprenticeship Programme about taking apprentices in the next round
  • In September, Karen Fox was appointed to the position of Youth Worker with NEETs, a part-time post three days a week.  This has been funded through a contract with Raising Aspirations (strands 1-3).  She will commence work in November.
  • On 17 September Jason and Jennie began a four week training course on Growing Vegetables, for beginners.  Seven people attended, and the course was very well received. The course generated income as four participants paid for their training.


Open pdf documentGrowing Vegetables Course Poster

Open pdf documentFamily Fun Day Poster 23 July 2011

Open pdf documentFarm therapy is changing lives - article featured in Mansfield and Ashfield Chad on 6 July 2011

Open pdf documentHearty Harvest

Open pdf documentPizza Oven Making Course

2011/12 Quarter 1

In May, fencing was erected with the extra funds made available by Bolsover Partnership, and the entire “business” end of Rhubarb Farm was fenced and secured, making a big difference to the security of the site and enabling vegetables to be planted. In June, the cafe cabin purchased with WNF in Quarter 4 of 2010/2011 was transported to site and located next to the Village Green. The cafe has a fully equipped kitchen with cooker, sinks, wash basin, freezer, units and serving counter. There is room for about 12 people to sit for food. The cafe will also double in the short term as a training space for courses and seminars.

Rhubarb Farm held their first corporate volunteering day on 3 June. Fourteen Department for Work and Pensions staff from Job Centres and their Partnership Team did a days work at the Farm.

2010/11 Year End

A lot of physical set up and development has taken place at Rhubarb Farm over the last quarter including the installation of electricity, connection to water and erection of a fence to secure the business end of the site.  A Horticulturalist has now been recruited to work on site.  Having site supervision has also enabled Rhubarb Farm to take on a further three unemployed people through opportunities via the Future Jobs Fund.  A Community Payback team and staff supervisor from Derbyshire Probation Trust continue to work at Rhubarb Farm on a weekly basis to clear and prepare the ground as well as litter pick.  Rhubarb Farm also has several regular volunteers with learning difficulties attending once a week each. Raising Aspirations (Connexions) placed a young man at Rhubarb Farm who became the first paying placement.  Shirebrook Job Centre also regularly refers volunteers to Rhubarb Farm, but some are not in a position to take up opportunities, either through anxiety problems or other difficulties.  This is being addressed with the support of NHS Derbyshire County Health Trainers who will accompany people to Rhubarb Farm when they start.

In some cases, Rhubarb Farm has over achieved on its outputs, particularly jobs created.  However, because the site is still undeveloped, and most of the volunteering opportunities in Quarter 4 have been heavy jobs, it has not been possible to create a wide enough range of volunteering opportunities to reach the target, or to attract as wide a group of volunteers as originally hoped.  However, as more facilities go on site and the diversity of opportunities is increased it is hoped that more volunteers will be attracted to working on the site and output targets will be caught up in coming quarters.

2010/11 Quarter 3
During Quarter 3 the following activities have taken place:
  • Electrical connection has been commissioned from Eon
  • Horticulturist and Admin/Finance Worker posts advertised in November and interviews were held in December and January respectively
  • Admin/Finance worker appointed and commenced on 5 January.  The lady is from Langwith and was made redundant recently.
  • The search continues for a Horticulturist, so a suitable interim worker has been appointed.
  • “Soup on Site” event was held on site to publicise the enterprise to local residents.  About 60 people attended.
  • Rhubarb Farm registered for VAT.
  • Rhubarb Farm contracted to have the car park, foundations for the containers and ducting for electricity and water on site carried out by a Palterton contractor. Because of snow on due date of start, this work will now start on 20 January.
  • A Community Payback team and staff supervisor from Derbyshire Probation Trust started clearing the site from 9 October, and came on site every week from then until the heavy snow and frosts started on 30 November.
  • Androo Thornton resigned his Directorship on 29 November.
  • Two new directors then joined Rhubarb Farm:  John Beazer was Chief Eexecutive Officer of a social firm providing employment for disabled people, and Kath Sharpe, Secretary of the Langwith Society.
  • Rhubarb Farm’s first newsletter was produced
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Meetings and Events

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