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Urban farm to promote health and welfare

An oasis of calm promoting healthy eating, exercise and positive mental health could be developed in Middlesbrough's Digital City.

The tranquil urban farm would boast a street café and shop selling produce grown on site and create jobs for local people.

Plans due to be presented to the Council's Executive set out how the farm and garden would have space for seasonal crops, sensory gardens and beehives.

Land next to MyPlace in between Stockton Street and Durham Street would be transformed under the plan.

The 1.9-acre site would be leased to the Camphill Village Trust for 30 years, subject to planning permission and finance being in place to support the project.

The trust, which has a presence in the town at Larchfield Community Centre near Coulby Newham, is an established national charity supporting adults with learning and other disabilities.

It is keen to have facilities in urban areas and provide opportunities to more people.

The Digital City development would be a dementia and accessibility friendly building that could be used by adults with learning and other disabilities, local residents and community groups.

The hub on site would offer work experience, arts and crafts and promote local groups to complement the town's art, music and technology sectors.

The farm would have areas for chickens and an edible forest could also feature. It's hoped the European-style attraction would benefit local residents and businesses.

The report to Executive explains how urban farms have grown in popularity in recent years.

Success stories include Ouseburn Farm in Newcastle, which attracts more than 30,000 visitors annually. Another celebrated project is Oasis Farm in Waterloo - a former derelict site in one of the most deprived boroughs in the country.

The London facility is visited by school and community groups by day, before hosting weddings, food markets and winter fairs on evenings.

Wellbeing is becoming an increasingly important factor in decisions by companies on where to locate their offices, the report says.

Firms are often looking for unique factors that can boost employees' physical and mental health to aid job satisfaction.

The project would support the regeneration of Middlehaven and potentially attract new investment, visitors and residents.

The Council's Executive will consider the report on July 14.

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