A pioneering farm that helps vulnerable people in the Waveney Valley has been given a lottery grant that will enable it to expand its work.

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Clinks Care Farm at Toft Monks, near Beccles, has been awarded £90,000 from the Big Lottery Fund, allowing it to add growing vegetables to the work it already does on the land with livestock and environmental projects.

The farm, which provides therapeutic work for people suffering from mental-health issues and learning disabilities, will now be able to welcome more workers every day and employ three further part-time staff as it grows vegetables across a four-and-a-half acre site.

This is after its new Growing Wise project was awarded a grant by Local Food, a Big Lottery Fund which aims to make local food more accessible and affordable.

The Growing Wise project will see a wide range of fruit and vegetables grown on the farm. These will then be sold in a box scheme and through farmers’ markets and a planned new farm shop, helping to keep travelling miles to a minimum.

Doeke Dobma, who runs the farm, said: “We will grow produce through the season and by the second year we will be able to produce 45 boxes, with half targeted at those with low incomes in Toft Monks, Haddiscoe and through Saffron Housing, which offers affordable housing.”

Mr Dobma said that as well as helping provide work experience for vulnerable people and teenagers in the area, it would also help to provide affordable food.

“A lot of food is coming in from long distances and that is not sustainable, it is getting more expensive,” he said.

“This also complements what we do as we have livestock, we have the environmental project and the care farm. Now we’ll be growing fresh local produce.

“It all fits in with the essence of the care farm. We are passionate about people and making sure people get the right food and are physically active.”

Work will begin next week with a high-pressure irrigation system from the Raveningham Estate being used.

The farm is also intending to run cooking classes for both schoolchildren and those who work on the farm.

The project will run until March 2014, when it is hoped it will be sustainable.

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