“ Whirlow Lane / Sheffield / S11 9QF / Tel: +44 (0)114 235 2678 „
Whirlow Hall Farm is situated approximately five miles to the west of Sheffield city centre, close to the South Yorkshire county boundary with Derbyshire. This farm was set up by a group of volunteers in 1979 and soon afterwards became a registered charity and trust, which has been known as the Whirlow Hall Farm Trust ever since.
The principal aim of this farm was to provide an educational centre for Sheffield schoolchildren and in particular to provide a location where inner city kids could visit and experience rural life. It was always intended to be a very hands on experience and from its earliest days careful consideration was given to providing access for young people with disabilities and special needs. Above all however Whirlow Hall Farm would be open for all to visit and it would be free to visit.
Although early priorities were given to inner city children and those with special needs, Whirlow Hall Farm is now visited by schoolchildren from all over the UK, and since it opened over 250,000 schoolchildren have visited here. It is now also has daily programmes for young adults with learning difficulties and offers employment on supported placement schemes.
The farm covers a site of 138 acres. This is primarily arable, grazing land with scattered buildings that were once a part of the estate of the grand Whirlow Hall, which is adjacent to the farm. A couple of years ago a recently renovated cruck barn dating from at least 1650 was opened up. This is now used as learning centre for schoolchildren to discover about farming methods during the Victorian era.
Whirlow Hall Farm is mainly used during the week and on Saturdays for pre-arranged parties but due to the popularity of this place there are usually several different groups visiting at the same time. It is only open to the public on Sundays when it can be visited between 11.30am and 4pm. There is a car park at the farm and there are always a group of volunteer guides available that are happy to show you around and answer any questions that you may have. On a Sunday there is no need to pre-book your visit.
In addition to providing daytime visits for schoolchildren the farm also provides accommodation where children and other groups can stay overnight. This is often the first occasion that these young children have stayed away from home. All of the educational programmes that are offered are linked closely to the school national cirrocumulim.
The farm has a mixture of both live animals and plants, which provides the full spectrum of a working farm. There is also a strong emphasis placed on environmental issues and all farming is carried out in an environmentally friendly way.
Amongst the animals there are over 300 sheep, from many different breeds, 20 pigs, plus a poultry shed and a few goats, cows, horses and ponies. Spring time is a perfect time to visit as many of these animals will have young. There is also an area that is full of pets. These include rabbits, guinea pigs and other abandoned or mistreated animals that are sometimes brought here on a temporary basis.
Several acres of the farm have been put aside to grow fruit and this is offered on a pick-your-own basis. Raspberries and strawberries are always a popular favourite and provide vital income for the farm.
There is also a nursery that grows plants that are then sold to various local retailers. The largest of these customers is Sheffield City Council, which uses many of these plants in its parks and gardens.
The farm relies heavily on donations but it does receive some income from its charitable status. Groups staying here on a residential basis provide some revenue as there is a charge for this but much of the farm's income is generated from its farm shop which is open to the public seven days a week.
There is a strong emphasis within the farm linking how the food on your plate gets there. All of the produce sold in the farm shop has been produced on the farm and surplus food is sold to local retailers. All of this food has been organically produced.
The gathering of the hen's eggs from the many sheds that are scattered across the farm is always one of the first tasks that is given to the schoolchildren. They can also help out with feeding the animals, tending the young, picking the fruit and vegetables and even bagging it up and labelling it for the shop.
All of the meat that is sold in the farm shop has also come from animals that have been reared on the farm. There are fresh chickens, pork and lamb for sale as well as burgers and sausages that have been made from these products.
I think that Whirlow Hall Farm is a fascinating place to visit and provides a great day out, whether you have children or not. I have visited here many times and I have always had a really enjoyable time. I never had the opportunity to visit here whilst I was at school so I first came here as an adult. I enjoyed myself so much that I have since brought many of my friends here and one of them later volunteered to work at the farm part time.
Whirlow Hall Farm Trust,
Telephone - 0114 235 2678
Whirlow Hall Farm Trust was founded in 1979 as an educational trust working with inner city children and young people with special needs or disabilities. Since that date, over 250,000 children have visited Whirlow on a daily or residential basis.