A FUNDING bid has been submitted for a community farm project in Weymouth - as residents are invited to an open event to see how the development is progressing.

The Tumbledown Farm project has been under way to transform 27 acres of former farm land into a community hub as a site for growing food and plants while also becoming an educational and therapeutic space.

A popular forest school already operates on the land, near Southill, offering children the opportunity to explore and learn in a natural environment. Weymouth Town Council is transforming it into a community hub to provide a safe educational space for vulnerable adults, including a community orchard to offer a calm, peaceful space to benefit health and wellbeing.

The project has been under way throughout the pandemic and the town council has just submitted a bid for £316,000 worth of funding from the UK Community Renewal Fund to continue its progress.

Councillor David Northam, member of the Tumbledown Project Board, said: “If our bid is successful, this money will enable us to increase four times the number of vulnerable people benefitting from learning new skills in a healthy outdoor environment at our Weymouth Centre for Community Resilience.”

The funding would create five new jobs, and enable Learning Mentors to increase support offered to vulnerable adults and the development of the schools’ recovery curriculum, helping more people to learn about market gardening. There are nine community growing spaces where local groups will bring their members on-site to grow food.

It would also mean increased investment in maintenance and upkeep to improve the accessibility of the whole site, with better buildings, signposting, pathways, bridges, and gates. The project would continue to involve volunteers, with valuable contributions already made in planting a fruit tree orchard, building improvements, hedge-laying, dry-stone walling and digging swales (water run-off channels). The Forest School continues to grow, and the Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) will continue to be protected.

All the work and more than £40,000 worth of materials and tools used on site will be sourced locally, wherever possible, organisers say, helping to support local businesses.

A spokesman added: "Weymouth Town Council has recognised the climate emergency and what we do at Tumbledown will reduce carbon output by reducing food supply chains.

"Our land improvements will meet ecological improvements suggested by a local ecology consultant, and our new buildings will be designed for a net-zero carbon future including solar panels for powering the site."

The bid is being processed by Dorset Council and, if approved, will be submitted to the Ministry for Housing Communities and Local Government It is hoped that a decision will be made before the end of July 2021.

Residents are now invited to find out more at the Tumbledown Open Day on Saturday June 26 between 2pm and 4pm. More details will be published on the Weymouth Town Council website and on social media, including the Tumbledown Facebook group.

For details visit www.weymouthtowncouncil.gov.uk/projects/tumbledown-project/