Farming, food and education at Middlebere & Turnworth

Farming, food and environment education provision at Middlebere Farm
and the wider Purbeck NNR by Wessex Wild Education

New accessible trailer with Jake and Chrissy Hancock


Chrissy and Jake Hancock are tenant farmers of several holdings, including Middlebere Farm in Purbeck, Dorset. They are conservation graziers and also run an educational business Wessex Wild Wessex Grazing & Wessex Wild | Conservation grazing, sustainable farming, nature conservation & education They wanted to expand their educational site and outreach opportunities to a wider range of people who would be able to learn about and enjoy the ‘Food, farming and environment’ of their local protected landscape.

Middlebere Farm is a unique site, situated in Poole Harbour and adjacent to the Purbeck National Nature Reserve, which the Hancocks also partly graze. Jake and Chrissy only took over the tenancy for this National Trust owned farm in April 2023, and FiPL has been able to support capital purchases including a wheelchair accessible trailer, compost toilets and wash basins so that they can offer visits to a wider range of participants at Middlebere. The trailer can also be easily taken to other sites if required.

  • Farming in Protected Landscapes Grant awarded: DOR22-015 £12,842 (included practical habitat management elements as well as education), DOR22-128 £27,807.80 (included capital grant towards trailer), DOR23-228 £21,716.00 (included capital grant towards compost toilets and washbasins).
  • Other sources of funding: £4227.20 farmer contribution

The objective of this project was to deliver bespoke educational experiences to new audiences. This project primarily addressed the FiPL People outcome, but also contributed to the Place outcome to support a nature-friendly, sustainable farm business.

Chrissy and Jake Hancock with accessible trailer (c) Rachel Janes

The three grants will have supported 95 educational events covering diverse topics including Anglo-Saxon & Iron-Age Farming and Textiles, Cattle Behaviour and herd management on conservation sites, Winter on the Farm, Where our food comes from, Introduction to the New Purbeck Super Nature Reserve, Turnworth Down – a tour of the habitats, archaeology and discussion on cattle management, Life Cycles.

Groups have included: pre-schools, first school groups, National Trust & Dorset Wildlife Trust staff, trainees and volunteers, Studland Gardening Association, and, linking with the Dorset Food and Drink ‘Flavours’ project, members of the Ukrainian community and women participating in the Grace the Space Project.

Compost toilets and washbasins were installed at Middlebere, and wheelchair accessible trailer purchased.

The educational experiences were in such great demand in 21/22, with excellent feedback, so follow up programmes were FiPL grant funded in 22/23 and 23/24.

Transport costs for visits are always a problem to find funding for – FiPL support was essential for these. Similarly, toilet and hand washing facilities can be a huge barrier to being able to facilitate a visit.

“This was an excellent experience to add to our curriculum” – Local first school teacher who participated in an educational visit.