Gibside Community Farm would not exist without the support and encouragement from the Team at the National Trust’s Gibside in Rowlands Gill, Tyne and Wear.
The conservation charity bought the farm next to the Gibside Estate when they heard that an opencast coal mine was proposed for the site.
Most of the farm is rented out to a local farmer, who produces sheep and beef, and one field was reserved for community use. The Gibside Estate Manager contacted local people and organisations to see if they were interested in using the field. After some research and trips to Community Supported Agriculture projects around the country, supported by the National Trust, Gibside Community Farm was established formally in 2013.
This coincided with the moving of the car park from the walled garden, so it was agreed that Gibside Community Farm would use 3 plots in the walled garden as a show case to the public and promote its existence to visitors to the estate.
With Gibside NT’s help and support, we have gradually developed our plans for the field (14 acres) growing in small parts of the field to start with. We are now converting the land to organic status, planting trees to shelter the crops, experimenting with an innovative agroforestry horticultural method, and creating office and storage space on the field with a portacabin and shipping container.
Gibside Community Farm has grown its ability to use the plots in the walled garden and the field. We have continued to be well supported by the National Trust with the use of their equipment, storage facilities and meeting rooms. We have had stalls at the Gibside farmers market and now make vegetables available for visitors through display stands near the main café.
We are keen to talk to visitors in the Walled Garden about what we are doing and answer their questions about horticulture or the estate. We are very grateful for the support, physical, financial and emotional, that the National Trust has provided to Gibside Community Farm. We are keen to develop the partnership, working together to promote both organisations as well as provide fun, healthy and low carbon opportunities for local people and visitors to Gibside.