The Carrot Shed in Weybread continues to expand - and will offer a community library
Graham Gibbs has cleverly combined growing vegetables with care work.
His small-holding, cared for by seven adults with learning disabilities, has now expanded – but they are not in it for the money.
The six acres of land, nestled in Church Road in Weybread, is manned by care home residents from The Paddocks.
Mr Gibbs and his team have been working the land for the last 35 years.
When they first started, in 1984, they would sell the fruits of their labours at a small stall. As demand grew, he built a bright orange shed in Church Road.
In the decades since, the team has outgrown the old building – dubbed The Carrot Shed, which will be turned into a community library – and they have built a bigger one.
“We’ve been self-sufficient growing vegetables for many years and now have extra that we sell at the shed,” said the 60-year-old. “So this year, we have decided to invest in a bigger one.
“It’s not a big financial venture, it’s just trying to get some extra money so that we can take our residents on outings.”
The seven adults have been with Mr Gibbs and his parents almost all their lives.
“It’s always been an aim of mine to combine care work with nature,” said the former county council care worker.
“One of the seven was always ill as a child and, once he started working outside, he became healthier than all of us. It’s health and fitness and they all feel like useful members of society, rather than sitting back and being looked after.”
The land their house sits on includes a wind turbine, five vegetable gardens, an orchard, a mini beast mansion for insects, bird boxes and hedgehog houses.
The seasonal produce is sold in bags for as little as £1 in the new shed, which has a six-foot tall carrot standing in front of it.
“My family gets very excited when they see plates of food come that they have helped grow,” said Mr Gibbs. “It gives them self-worth. They are not just people with learning disabilities, I call them people with different abilities.”
He hopes to open the community library within the next fortnight.