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OWL Town Farm Workshop scoops first prize for its smashing pumpkins


A Sixpenny Handley training workshop for people with learning disabilities has won first place in a competition for its smashing pumpkins.

OWL Town Farm Workshop scooped the prize in an annual gardening competition organised by national care provider, the Regard Group who run the service in Dorset.

Earlier this year Regard’s 168 services across the UK were provided with a packet of pumpkin seeds by the care provider, along with useful tips on how to grow the best crop.

“We can never resist a challenge,” said Helen Ritson, service manager of OWL Town Farm Workshop, “And set out to grow a crop that would be better than the rest.

“We are delighted to have come first, which is testament to all the hard work our gardening team has put into the project over the past few months.”

The seeds were planted in the Workshop’s Victorian walled-garden ‘up the road’ on the Rushmore Estate in Tollard Royal and lovingly tended by the service’s ‘Green Team’.

“The plants loved the beautiful weather we had over summer – though it did mean we had to do our fair share of watering to stop them from drooping.

“It was so exciting for everybody to see them come into flower and grow into big fleshy pumpkins. They seemed to get bigger every time we looked at them!”

Helen Ritson, a finalist in this year’s 2018 National Learning Disability Awards, said the pumpkins were used made into soups and pies after the competition.

The prize for growing the best pumpkins was a chocolate hamper and a rosette.

Town Farm Work shop is an ‘Outcomes with Learning’ (OWL) initiative by Regard and offers activities including crafts, gardening, horse riding, pottery, weaving and swimming.

Carole Edmond, CEO of Regard, said: “We were thrilled that so many of our services decided to take up the challenge to try and grow the best pumpkins.

“Hats off to the Town Farm Workshop team for doing such a great job and producing such a fabulous pumpkin crop. The ‘Green Team’ has put their heart and soul into this and it shows.

“Regard organises regular competitions across the year which are consistently popular with our staff and the people they support, and are a great example of the way we seek to create an environment in which people will enjoy both working and living.”

Recent examples include a National Poetry Day poetry competition, Regard does the Great British Bake Off, pet photo competition, sunflower growing, artwork to represent shared values and ‘design a healthy smoothie’ competition.

The Regard Group has a dedicated staff of over 2,600 people on 168 sites across the UK, caring for more than 1,300 people with learning disabilities, mental health needs and acquired brain injuries through specialist residential services, supported living services, outreach support and day resource centres (OWL), all focused on positive outcomes.

OWL Town Farm Workshop


Providing work-related activity for adults with learning disabilities

Town Farm Workshop is an innovative project from Regard, We provide care and