By Debbie James

A Pembrokeshire farmer who established a care farm for young people with learning difficulties is aiming to provide further opportunities for his students to better themselves.

Eurig Evans established a care farm at Cronllwyn Farm, Llanychaer, to host young people with learning difficulties.

Eurig now plans to expand Gwaun Care Farm and its activities to offer a greater range of learning opportunities.

To further this ambition, he was awarded a place on the Farming Connect Management Exchange Programme to visit San Patrignano care farm in Italy.

Here he found a community dedicated to rehabilitation. During his visit, San Patrignano was celebrating 40 years of helping people with addictions and disabilities.

“A reason for me wanting to visit this farm was that I knew it had rehabilitated 26,000 people in 40 years,’’ says Eurig.

This once small farm began with 200 chickens, nine participants, two members of staff and a zinc shed.

One of the first people supported by the farm 40 years ago has since dedicated his life to San Patrignano to helping others to overcome their addictions.

Eurig says meeting that man had inspired him to provide opportunities for others in Pembrokeshire.

“It really inspired me to give my students who have autism and Asperger’s syndrome the opportunity to learn new skills, overcome problems and better themselves,’’ says Eurig. “I feel passionate about being able to give them a chance.’’

He gained a great deal of knowledge during his visit but one thing stood out.

“If there is one thing I took away from my visit to San Patrignano, it’s that it is possible to do anything,’’ says Eurig.

“If you can turn someone living with a heroin addiction around, you can do anything.’’

San Patrignano currently has a success rate of 73 per cent.

“This strong figure would not have been accomplished without a dedicated team to support and encourage these participants; it is impossible to do it all on your own,’’ says Eurig.

According to health boards and county councils, there is huge demand for care farms in Wales; Eurig has recognised the impact farm businesses could have on addressing this issue.

Currently he is contracted to host seven young people on his farm for three days a week.

He is now planning to develop woodland activities and green woodworking workshops, incorporating these into other nature-based activities to offer an holistic learning environment.