Therapeutic farm founder wins national farming award

Jamie Fielden founded the educational farm charity after teaching in a comprehensive school in Croydon, London
Jamie Fielden founded the educational farm charity after teaching in a comprehensive school in Croydon, London

The co-founder of a charity which runs therapeutic farms for disadvantaged people has been recognised for his Outstanding Contribution to British Agriculture.

Jamie Feilden won the prestigious award at this week's British Farming Awards, an event which recognises dedication in the industry.

His charity, Jamie's Farm, has five therapeutic farms which support vulnerable children to thrive by running transformative, engaging and innovative farm trips.

At the farms, teenagers are immersed in rural life and learn how to carry out meaningful work, such as caring for livestock and crops, and cooking healthy home-grown food.

These visits, which include tailored therapeutic sessions, have a transformative impact on some of the country’s most deserving young people.

Of those who are at risk of exclusion from school before they visit Jamie’s Farm, 60 percent are no longer at risk six months later.

Mr Fielden founded the educational charity after teaching in a comprehensive school in Croydon, London.

Concerned by the poor behaviour and lack of engagement of his pupils, he brought lambs from his farm in Wiltshire, set up animal pens in the school and entrusted his pupils with looking after them.

He noticed that many of the children benefited from the responsibility of tending to these animals.

From here, he came up with the idea of taking pupils from London back to Wiltshire.

Using his farming experience and his mother Tish’s 30 years’ experience as a psychotherapist, they together developed Jamie’s Farm’s unique approach of ‘farming, family and therapy’.

From their very first school visit, they witnessed the profound impact their programme had on disengaged teenagers.

Since opening in 2009, Jamie’s Farm has supported over 7,500 young people, and they also run the Jamie’s Farm Apprenticeship Scheme for previous visitors to the farm who are keen to pursue a career in farming.

Due to present government restrictions, the charity is currently running a programme of day trips for schools and vulnerable groups.

Mr Feilden said winning the award was 'the most fantastic boost' in what had been a very challenging year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

"From a young age, I have been desperate to be a farmer but as someone from a non-farming family, I have always felt a bit of a fraud.

"This award now proves that I am really part of the industry and I am very proud that I have been recognised in this way.

“My family, colleagues, and farming friends have been so supportive, and they are the reason that Jamie's Farm and I have been recognised in this way.

"It is so nice to be able to celebrate this and it will provide real motivation to me and the team in the coming months and years.”

Danusia Osiowy, events producer of the British Farming Awards, said the charity changed the lives of vulnerable young children.

“A powerful combination of farming, family and therapy equips these children with the ability to go on to thrive during their secondary school years," she added.

"The team at Jamie's Farm have helped more than 7,500 children find a renewed sense of purpose and happiness when all the other odds were stacked against them.

“A truly inspiring charity whose outstanding efforts to achieve great outcomes and solutions through the power of farming should be commended as nothing short of exemplary and utterly remarkable.”