Appeals: South of England Rare Breeds Centre

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The Independent Online
Alf Hatcher, Murray Shears and Daniel Ludlam working with a Gloucester Old Spot sow and her piglets at the South of England Rare Breeds Centre, Highlands Farm, near Ashford, in Kent. All three are residents of the centre, which belongs to the Canterbury Oast Trust, a charity founded in 1983 with the aim of giving a home and employment to adults with disabilities. The mission of the trust is to give all its 106 residents the chance to live and work as equal members of society.

Highlands Farm, with its 90 acres, is one of the trust's four small businesses intended to generate income once the charity's capital costs are paid. The long-term aim is to be self-sufficient. Since it opened in 1992, the rare breeds centre, open all year, has had over 86,000 visitors. Sixty- five rare breeds of animal are on view, including all seven breeds of pig on the Rare Breeds Survival Trust's list, as well as horses, sheep, cattle, goats, poultry, ducks, waterfowl and rabbits. The facilities include a restaurant, delicatessen and over four miles of woodland walks.

The trust also owns the Winchelsea Tea Room and Guest House and Friary Gardeners, a nursery which sells seeds, plants and gardening services - both at Winchelsea; and the Mariners Hotel, a small hotel with a garden in the centre of Rye. All three establishments provide various types of employment for the trust's residents, who either live on the premises or at one of the trust's eight other residential homes in Kent.

In 1992, four new houses were built to accommodate 20 more people at Highlands Farm, including a unit designed for six people with severe multiple handicaps. The trust is appealing for funds to repay the capital loan for this development, as well as for pounds 10,050 for new poultry housing, a cattle barn and a horticultural project, which would provide employment for 12 more residents. For further information, contact: The Canterbury Oast Trust, Highlands Farm, Woodchurch, Ashford, Kent TN26 3RT, telephone 0233 861493.

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