The Sunfield Farm Shop
If you have visited Sunfield lately, you have possibly noticed that the space to the left of the main entrance has come back to life. The Sunfield shop has a long history: in June 1937, the shop was opened as a retail outlet for the many products that were made within Sunfield’s land and craft-based workshops. The shop was built into the wall of the walled garden and became a focal point for selling the communities goods to the locality and visitors. These included furniture, woodenwares, pottery, toys, cards, biodynamic vegetables, bread and dairy products. In the ensuing years, the shop took on various guises, including at one point serving as staff accommodation and, in more recent years, being used as an oil painting gallery.
When Ruskin Mill Trust took on the leadership of Sunfield School and Children’s Home in 2018, the shops’ potential as both a community service, a social enterprise and a learning environment for our children and young people was immediately recognised. During the first lockdown, in early summer 2020, we took the opportunity to tentatively re-open the shop with an honesty box and an offering of fresh biodynamic vegetables from the Sunfield walled garden and nearby Vale Head Farm in Kinver (part of Glasshouse College). Much of this produce the young people we work with have had a hand in growing and harvesting as part of their practical skills therapeutic learning program. The produce was a huge hit with the local community and we took this as a sign that more could be done. In August 2021, we recruited a new position of Shop Lead, who has gone about re-arranging the shop, upgrading its appearance and expanding both the range of produce and the opening hours.
The shop will now be open three days a week to the public and Sunfield young people and staff, stocking a range of items, including our home-grown biodynamic vegetables, fruit, herbs and flowers. Alongside this we also sell ecological cleaning products and refills, organic dry goods (pasta, flour, cereal, teas, coffee etc.) canned produce and a range of organic snacks.
The shop will provide a space for Sunfield learners to practice their functional skills, such as communication and maths, as both shop staff and customers. The residential cottages will also be completing part of their weekly grocery shopping there and we are looking to further develop opportunities for our learners to create and design products to sell in the community. The Sunfield Farm Shop will provide an excellent opportunity for our children and young people to engage with and step into the community.