Edventure: Frome and Shared Earth Learning (SELCo) have formed a new partnership to create a land-based initiative in Frome. Students on the upcoming Edventure Start-Up Course will be challenged to create a viable growing enterprise on behalf of SELCo.

SELCo is a local co-operative that offers forest school sessions for children who struggle in mainstream education. They find that at the age of 16, their members reach a crunch point when they are expected to get a job, go into training, or step into further education but often lack the necessary qualifications, skills and support.  

Shared Earth Learning – A Frome-based not-for-profit whose mission is to grow people’s wellbeing outdoors and ensure that local people have the opportunity to develop a close relationship with the natural world.

Alex Hart, Director of SELCo says, “There are more than a million young people in the UK who are NEET. Young people with the potential to do well can be caught in a merry-go-round of boredom, low self-esteem, and lack of direction. This can turn into feelings of isolation and resentment, and anti-social behaviour patterns that negatively impact the wider community. We aim to create a space that will boost the self-esteem that life and school have eroded, will connect them with the land, wildlife, and environment we so need to care for and show that there is a way for young people to earn a meaningful income and make the contribution of which they are capable.”o

The idea is that a team of young adults (18-35-ish) on Edventure’s upcoming Start-Up Course will create a real, local enterprise to empower 16-18-year-olds to make a viable living by growing edible produce on the land at Vallis Veg. Over 11 weeks, a team of students will be guided through Edventure’s tried and tested social enterprise start-up model. They’ll design a business model that can support 16-18-year-olds to earn an income, learn skills, connect with nature, and feel a sense of belonging. They’ll also set up the physical infrastructure to grow edible produce on the land; building an all-singing, all-dancing polytunnel, setting up irrigation systems, perhaps even building a composting loo?

PCSO Gary Maule of Frome’s Neighbourhood Policing team has seen first-hand the need for projects to support this age group in Frome. He says, ‘‘We have a lot of sixteen-year-olds that could really do with some support. I think young people would benefit hugely from taking part in something that’s hands-on and social. There’s a whole range of skills they could glean from this. It will allow young people to interact and set them up for the future. I think people will embrace it with open arms.’’

The Edventure Start-Up Course is designed to support a team of people to make ideas real. Students will learn how to start-up a social enterprise, engage the community, plan a business, facilitate a group and manage a project. They’ll be supported by expert facilitators and coaches throughout, and will also learn sustainable permaculture methods with SELCo. It’s an opportunity to challenge yourself, to help create a more sustainable future, and to create a kind of legacy.

Image: Edventure’s Previous Start-Up Student Team started “Loop: Frome” a community composting enterprise that takes commercial food waste and transforms it into worm and nutrient-rich compost to be cycled back into our local land.

Tugba (3rd from left in the above image) was a student on the previous Edventure Start-Up Course, she says, “What Edventure does is really real. It is real business in real life. It’s real learning and real, authentic communication” 

The Start-Up Course runs from Mon 13 September to Fri 3 December. If you’re aged 18-35(ish) and are interested in joining Edventure and SELCo part-time for 11 weeks this Autumn to start up a project that lives on after the course, and supports vulnerable 16-18-year-olds to make a living on the land, find out more and apply at:  https://edventurefrome.org/courses/start-up/

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