Our Charity: The Pearce Coggan Foundation

Introduction

The Pearce Coggan Foundation (“PCF”) is a not for profit organisation, currently undergoing registration with the Charities Commission, established in 2014 to:

  1. To promote health and wellbeing for public benefit in particular but not limited to disadvantaged young people living in inner cities. This is achieved by working with specialist charities to provide opportunities at and around Green Farm to be outdoors and active in the countryside which develop their capacities and capabilities so that they may grow to be confident, independent, mature and responsible members of society.

  2. To promote for the benefit of the public the protection and improvement of the physical and natural environment of the ancient woodlands and wealden meadows around Shadoxhurst by engaging with organisations, such as wildlife and conservation charities, on landscape scale conservation.

Green Farm was purchased by MaryAnn and Martin Richmond -Coggan in 2008 as a semi-derelict 15th Century Grade II listed Kentish Hall House and 3 acres of scrub land. It bordered land already owned by us and by MaryAnn’s father’s farm (Mr. Gordon Pearce). Over the years, we have renovated the main house, bought adjoining derelict out-buildings that have now been converted into a large holiday barn and small farm spa and significantly improved the land, that now totals approximately 39 acres.

The land is a mixture of pastures and ancient woodland which we farm with a small number of cattle, sheep, pigs, chickens and ducks. All activities are carried out with wildlife habitat improvement in mind, for example the sewing of a new 1-acre wildflower meadow and a ¼ acre strip of wild bird seed plants. We have leased a half-acre plot to The Pearce Coggan Foundation who has spent 4 years developing a community wildlife vegetable garden that is becoming the focal point for activities providing benefit to people who are disadvantaged.

PCF fits into our strong social responsibility ethos which permeates all our activities at Green Farm.

The Need

Time spent in nature provides a wealth of benefits, from improving mental health and wellbeing to positively impacting on physical health. Sadly, research tells us young people, in particular, have lost touch with nature.

These situations are often accompanied by poor diet and lack of exercise that compound the challenges. In addition, many young people have lost touch with nature. This concept is described as “Nature Deficit Disorder” by the National Trust in their report Natural Childhood whereby a lack of engagement with nature impacts “physical health problems including obesity, mental health problems, and children’s growing inability to assess risks to themselves and others”. The report identifies that a “Natural Childhood” delivers benefits for society from reversing the generational decline in connection with the natural world, in health, education, communities and environment.

The report identifies statistics that confirm the widespread perception that our nation’s children have a largely screen-based lifestyle:

  • On average, Britain’s children watch more than 17 hours of television a week: that’s almost two-and-a-half hours per day, every single day of the year. Despite the rival attractions of the Internet, this is up by 12% since 2007.

  • British children are also spending more than 20 hours a week online, mostly on social networking sites.

  • As children grow older, their ‘electronic addictions’ increase. Britain’s 11–15-year-olds spend about half their waking lives in front of a screen: 7.5 hours a day, an increase of 40% in a decade

The value of being outdoors is also embraced in a similar way by the Forest School movement “an inspirational process, that offers ALL learners regular opportunities to achieve and develop confidence and self-esteem through hands-on learning experiences in a woodland or natural environment with trees.” Getting outdoors and getting active has never been more important, particularly for those who are already struggling with disadvantages.

Achievement of Aims

The two purposes are complimentary. The guiding principle for benefiting young people and adults, especially those who are disadvantaged (“our visitors”) is “get outside” with all the benefits that are derived: being active, keeping healthy, reducing obesity. This will be achieved by providing an environment that:

  1. Encourages our visitors to gain the physical and mental benefit of being outdoors and active.

  2. Provides a safe haven for people and wildlife.

  3. Provides a place for relaxation, education and opportunity for all.

  4. Provides education around eating healthily and understanding where food comes from.

 

PCF partners with inner-city (London & Ashford) charities to deliver opportunities for visitors to spend time at Green Farm. This might be a few hours to several days, including camping in the woods.

 

Alongside this, we, now through PCF, have been partnering with Kent Wildlife Trust to:

  1. Understand the condition of the meadows and woodland (see report attached)

  2. Work on habitat improvement and species enrichment

  3. Use Green Farm as a study site for the management of low weald meadows and woodland

  4. Support a Kent Wildlife Trust trainee to work on the Ashford Meadows project

Our aim is to use the activities around environmental improvement to pass on respect for nature and a less intensive way of life to the visitors while they are simply getting outdoors and getting active.

Situation

Currently, we have made the following progress towards the charitable aims​

Investing in the development of the community wildlife vegetable garden.

We have funded the employment of a part-time Community Garden Manager, currently for the equivalent of two days per week, to drive this development. From November 1st, 2016 we also employed a horticultural apprentice, in conjunction with Hadlow College. This was an 18th month commitment which we are actively looking to repeat. The garden is now established sufficiently to bring visitors to spend time gardening and growing vegetables and achieving the physical and mental benefits of being outdoors and active. This development also significantly enriches the wildlife habitat in this area of Green Farm.

Serving the local Community.

Serving the local Community. Since 2016, we have had several volunteers, many with learning difficulties, come and work in the Wildlife Community Garden on a regular basis. Since early October 2016, the local Pay-Back team of the Probation Service has brought clients every Friday to serve their Community Service

Partnering for our visitors. Because of MaryAnn’s roots in Lambeth, South London.

Our first activity in this partnership was to host ten 9-year olds, with 6 leaders, to spend 4 days camping in the woods and following a modified “forest school” curriculum in August 2015. Unfortunately, The Kids’ Company ceased trading in the week that was set for the visit and the trip was cancelled. However, we have now partnered with the charity Outdoor People who brought 6 single parent families from Hackney, London to camp for 3 days during August 2016, 14 families in 2017 and many more in 2018 & 2019. Outdoor People’s purpose is very like ours: getting kids outdoors and active. In the meantime, we have established a relationship with Poulton Wood, a subsidiary of the Canterbury Oast Trust, who work with adults with severe learning difficulties; they have visited, providing their clients with a change of environment

Working with Kent Wildlife Trust,

We are managing the pastures and woodland for significant environmental improvement. In 2012 we commissioned a survey of all the pastures at Green Farm, and at the neighbouring Alex Farm, to get a baseline for future improvement and subsidised a trainee volunteer at KWT to work on the Ashford Meadows Project, aimed at bringing several low weald meadows, including those at Green Farm, into a unified wildlife habitat. The environment around Green Farm is very special, including some of the few remaining examples of some of the most threatened wildlife habitats in the country. See Annex D: Flora & Fauna in the Area: An analysis by the Kent Wildlife Trust. We have also sewn an acre of new wildflower meadow and ¼-acre of wild bird seed mix (meadow plants that seed late in the season to help sustain birds over the winter). We have also lent our facilities for Kent Wildlife Trust to run a series of one day workshops, using Green Farm as a study site for environmental improvement.

Working with local charities

We are heavily involved with the Shadoxhurst Baden Powell Scouts, including lending a Green Farm field for the annual Scouts’ Dog Show, now in its 5th year. We have also partnered with the Teddington Trust, a Charity creating and funding global projects to improve quality of life for patients and families affected by Xeroderma Pigmentosum (XP). We have adapted Green Farm Barn, a 12-person holiday cottage, to make it a safe environment for XP sufferers by fitting all the windows with anti-UV (Dermaguard) film and ultra-low UV emitting lighting. This allows families that include XP sufferers to have short breaks is a safe environment. Families have stayed in the Barn, or at heavily discounted rates, subsidised by The Pearce Coggan Foundation with the benefit that the XP sufferers can be sure that the Barn is a "safe area" for them.

Future Activities

Having established infrastructure and tested activities over the last few years, we will be developing the activities to drive the PCF purpose and objectives. Our activities will include:

  • Reaching out to inner-town Ashford schools and social services to identify visitors who would gain significant benefit from being outdoors and working in the community wildlife garden on a regular basis

  • Identifying an inner-city London charity with whom to partner to send young people with leaders on day trips and overnight camping stays

  • Running short courses (2 hours – 1 day) to educate visitors on various aspects of wildlife gardening. See Annex B for a schedule for course ideas

  • Promoting the opportunity for local schools to use Green Farm as a site for a Forest School

  • Sponsoring the use of Green Farm Barn for families with XP sufferers

Green Farm, Duck Lane
Shadoxhurst, Kent TN26 1LT
​+44 (0)1233 733 997
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