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Julie Plumley

Futureroots, Ryelands Farm, Dorset

Treasured memories of an upbringing on the farm were the catalyst for Julie Plumley’s decision to buy Ryelands Farm, Dorset, and found her care centre.

Teamed with husband James, qualifier social worker Julie founded Future Roots in 2006, with the aim of helping those with challenging lives deal with their mental and physical problems by helping out on-farm.

Settled on 30-acres of land, the farm has a range of livestock which are used for animal assisted therapy. They also provide a range of horticulture, building skills and craft courses.

Working with younger and older people alike, the concept of care farming is becoming increasingly well known for the potential health and social benefits it can bring.

For over a decade, Julie and her team have used farming and the countryside to re-engage young people and enhance the well-being of adults who suffer from isolation and the problems it can bring.

Julie’s son Sam is also involved in the running of the farm, and the Plumley’s feel strongly about the helping to shape the lives of those challenging young people who require support.

Vulnerable adults

Around 150 youngsters come to Future Roots each year, and many remain part of the farm family for years after their first visit.

After noticing a significant number of older locals who feel isolated due to disability or illness, the countrymen’s club was also introduced as a support group for over-50 farmers and country residents.

It runs on site three days a week and works with those who suffer from diseases such Dementia and Parkinson’s, and also those with depression and loneliness. Julia aims to secure a grant to franchise the countrymen’s club across England next year.

The care farm runs alongside a herd of pedigree Simmental cattle, which are famed locally for their quality beef. The herd has been closed for the past five years and adheres to a high welfare management programme.