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The Wellbeing Farm Hits The Region

Jill Burdett meets llamas, bees and food up in t'hills

Published on March 7th 2013.


The Wellbeing Farm Hits The Region
 

WHAT do llamas, a cookery school, kid’s parties and a Krypton Factor Assault course have in common?

Do companies still do team building away days? Do the staff bond over bread making or pies, pasties or puddings. I would imagine the butchery course could be a bit of a risk.

It’s a tricky one.

Even llamas would be stumped and they are the only animal capable of completing the Rubik’s cube (So true Jill, I thought I was the only person who knew that. Ed).

And there’s five llamas, fetched up on a hillside in the village of Edgworth, north of Bolton where they allow themselves to be led around at a new sort of centre that opened this week.

Mr Harrison's excellent food. Wellbeing - Quartet Of LambMr Harrison's excellent food. Wellbeing - Quartet Of Lamb

The moment was marked by the cutting of a string of sausages.

The centre is the idea of Celia Gaze, a previously stressed out NHS executive who quit her job and spent the last three years researching all sorts of other centres, choosing the things she enjoyed most and persuading her partner Stephen and the banks to let her develop the barn next to their house into The Wellbeing Farm.

It’s not a spa, there’s no Yoga or meditation, you don’t stay over in minimalist bedrooms and eat micro meals and have strange treatments. You don’t get your nails done.

Celia’s idea of well being seems to be about cooking and eating really good food, learning something new, having a laugh and a drink in front of a log burning stove and going for a walk. Llama optional.

She says: “I had a lot of fun researching this project, went to 185 different venues and wanted to develop a centre that combined all the bits I had enjoyed the most.

“Hence the cookery school which has all the latest technology from De Dietrich and is designed for demonstrations and hands-on lessons,  a big room that can be used for crafts and courses, parties for children or parties for grown-ups and upstairs two meeting rooms.

“And I wanted llamas just because I adore them. They are the most tolerant and peaceful animal, they make everyone feel calm.”

Celia Gaze - the visionary, woman with gift of foresight...and any other ocular analogies we can think ofCelia Gaze - the visionary, woman with gift of foresight...and any other ocular analogies we can think of.

There’s an interesting mix of courses on offer, from lads and dads cookery to food foraging and herbal medicine and making willow structures for the garden and there’s something on most days with the current programme running until mid June.

Celia’s partner Stephen is Stephen Whitehead, whose family has run the butchers in Edgworth for the past 150 years so he knows a thing or two about meat and while they don’t raise animals for slaughter on the farm the emphasis is very much on the provenance of food, from field to plate.

And you can also sign up to his butchery course and learn the best and most efficient way to cut up an animal for eating.

The Wellbeing Farm opened this week, which given the horse meat outcry seems impeccable timing, silver linings and all that.

 Celia said: “I think the scale of the scandal has shocked people, and it’s still going on. People are suddenly questioning exactly where their food is coming from; they want to know exactly what they are eating.

“Which is great for centres like ours where the emphasis is on sourcing food, learning about animals and how they are kept and learning new cooking skills.

“We no longer raise cattle on the farm but plan to have some pigs and sheep, not as a petting zoo, but so that children can learn the connection between the animal in the field and the food on their plate.

“When they come to courses or perhaps a cup cake party they will be encouraged to go and find the eggs from the free range hens that will then be used in the baking.

“We have become complacent about food, not really thinking about where it has come from, how it should taste and we want to help re-balance that.”

Courses at the cookery school are led by local chef Mike Harrison, stalwart of the Bolton Food and Drink Festival who also teaches at the Novelli Academy, Tom Bridge, author of many cookbooks and known  as the cookery detective and Justine Forrest who won the TV series Michael Winner’s Dining Stars.

Not sure who was cooking at the launch but the quartet of lamb that came out of the kitchen was impeccable. Made me feel very well indeed.

Because of the clean design and amount of space Celia is also hoping the school will be a background for filming and product launches. The Hairy Bikers are apparently on their way up there sometime soon.

Welleating at wellbeingWelleating is part of wellbeing

As well as individuals they are also aiming at the corporate market.

Do companies still do team building away days? Do the staff bond over bread making or pies, pasties or puddings. I would imagine the butchery course could be a bit of a risk.

The farm is 20 minutes north of Manchester and if you get the train from Victoria they will pick you up at Bromley Cross station.

The local planners took some persuading to allow it happen and the banks even more so but it’s an interesting venture with great scope in a really beautiful spot and in the end everyone was on board including  Rural Development for England which stumped up a third of the investment cost. 

www.thewellbeingfarm.co.uk

You can follow @jillburdett here.

 

Some of the team and their humansSome of the team and their humans

Lovely loosLovely loos

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