Emily and Luke Knight

2022 Silver Diversification of the Year (Small/medium)

Lower Cotley Farm,
Knights Care Farm LLP,

TENANT farmers Luke and Emily Knight are providing adults and children with an opportunity to work with animals, grow vegetables and learn new skills at their care farm. It was while the couple were caring for Luke’s uncle, who is partially sighted and has learning disabilities, they saw the value in offering a care farming experience to others. Emily says: “The rewards he took from being part of a working day were immeasurable and we started to offer that to more individuals.”

Programmes have since been created for young offenders, schools, people with dementia and as rehabilitation for individuals with mental health concerns referred through their GP. Although Knights Care Farm links social care and farming, its core enterprise still functions as a commercial working farm. Luke says: “It is unique across the UK as most care facilities offer a low level of meeting animals, whereas we work with commercial scale.” From maintenance tasks including mending fences to the seasonal jobs of lambing, calving, shearing and weaning, there is plenty for clients to get involved in. Emily says: “Every individual is given tasks based on their ability and supported to be a valued member of the farm team, going home having worked and able to discuss their achievements.” An average of four people use the service five days a week. Farm clubs operate during the school holidays, allowing children to learn more about farming. This was launched in summer last year and has been fully booked for every school holiday since.

Care farming has allowed the Knight family to operate their farm profitably on just 49 hectares (120 acres) and now includes selling their own meat boxes and a farm shop. Looking ahead, they are now looking at the option of establishing as a charity to widen their access and to tap into funding sources. “Social care funding is being cut heavily and, with more than 70 per cent of our service users coming to us on social care funding, we have had to address the future of this,’’ says Emily.

Key successes

  • Allows the farm to operate profitably on limited acreage
  • High demand for the service
  • Business growth has included a farm shop and meat box