New farming enterprise brings inclusive agriculture to Aberdeenshire

Left to Right: Mike Duxbury, Jenna Ross, Duncan Ross and Ness Shillito

A NEW partnership between The MacRobert Trust and Inclusive Farm will provide people with disabilities, additional needs or difference, a new route into agriculture.

Through the provision of land and buildings by The MacRobert Trust in Tarland, Aberdeenshire, a new farming enterprise entitled ‘Inclusive Farm Scotland at MacRobert’, will be designed by, and for, people with disabilities, additional needs or difference.

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The new farm will be designed based on the model from the original Bedfordshire site and is in the process of transitioning to become a Community Interest Company.

Founded in January 2021, Inclusive Farm was set up by Mike Duxbury and Ness Shillito. Each week they welcome students with diverse needs onto their farm and give them the confidence and skills to pursue a worthwhile and fulfilling career in agriculture.

Mike, who was recently appointed as Chief Executive Officer of Inclusive Farm Scotland at MacRobert, lost his sight at the age six and is excited to bring these opportunities to people in Scotland.

“90% of blind people, and 78% of autistic people, are unemployed – but it doesn’t have to be like this.

“We’re seeing first-hand the impact of providing skills such as animal husbandry has had and we are excited to bring these same opportunities to Scotland.

“We are delighted to be partnering with The MacRobert Trust.  Together we will create unique learning environment which puts people with disabilities, additional needs or difference in the driving seat. Too often disabled people are told what they need, and we are determined that their voices and needs are met.”

Inclusive Farm Scotland at MacRobert is seeking like-minded organisations to support the farm’s development including sponsorship.

The MacRobert Trust’s Chief Executive Officer, Rear Admiral Chris Hockley CBE, DL, said:

“Inclusive Farm’s vision and mission aligns really well with the ethos of The MacRobert Trust and one of our main charitable themes to support agriculture and those organisations that seek to widen its appeal and foster a greater understanding of the breadth of opportunities that it can offer.

“We are absolutely delighted to be able to support this fantastic initiative and support Inclusive Farm’s vision that we know will make a real difference to the lives of people with disabilities, additional needs or difference across Scotland, and give them the skills they need to carve a path for themselves in agriculture.”

Director of Inclusive Farm Scotland at MacRobert, Dr Jenna Ross OBE, said:

“I am delighted to support this partnership with The MacRobert Trust to bring the Inclusive Farm model to Tarland, Aberdeenshire, land near where my family has farmed for generations.

“I’ve had the honour of supporting Mike and Ness since the inception of Inclusive Farm. Last year we initiated discussions on bringing the concept to Scotland following a fantastic event hosted by Women in Agriculture Scotland at the Royal Highland Show.

“This is a deeply personal ambition for me in that my younger brother Duncan, who was registered blind at birth, has struggled to find an accessible route into agriculture. This is an exciting opportunity to co-create a unique and empowering learning environment that is built by, and for, people with disabilities, additional needs or difference.

“On behalf of all the Inclusive Farm Scotland at MacRobert Directors and Trustees, I would also like to congratulate Mike on the appointment of Chief Executive Officer. There is no one more qualified or more passionate about our industry, to lead this game-changing organisation than Mike.”

If you are interested in learning more about Inclusive Farm Scotland at MacRobert then please contact: [email protected]

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