WORK has started on the conversion of a derelict barn into an education and visitor centre.
Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman will today help Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and The Veolia Environmental Trust to celebrate the start of work to create the “Cre8 Barn” at the town’s Stirley Community Farm, beneath Castle Hill.
The Veolia Environmental Trust awarded the Wildlife Trust £300,000 through its Veolia Cre8 fund to finance the conversion of the derelict barn into an education and visitor centre for the farm.
Although the converted barn will retain much of the building’s original character, it will be constructed to high ecological standards.
It will meet “Passivhaus” standards, meaning that it will be an ultra-low energy-use building that will require little energy for heating or cooling.
Yorkshire Wildlife Trust has been working since 2010 to turn the farm into a wildlife-sensitive working farm which will be a focus for a community food project that will give people the chance to grow food and learn about animal husbandry.
The barn will have displays about sustainable farming, a meeting space, toilets and a kitchen where people can learn how to cook interesting and healthy dishes using sustainably produced ingredients.
As well as the visitor centre, the farm will have an office based in the old farmhouse, barns for the storage of equipment and to house the farm’s herd of cattle, a community vegetable and salad growing area and orchard, as well as marked-out walks.
It is expected the Cre8 Barn will be open by winter 2013.
Mr Sheerman said: “This is a vote of confidence in a wonderful project which will involve so many local people in this wonderful community farm.
“Already Stirley Community Farm is a place to learn about growing vegetables and locally produced food and sustainability. This barn conversion will make this project fully accessible to the growing number of people who want to be involved as supporters, volunteers and visitors.”
Wildllife Trust chief executive Rob Stoneman described the project as “ambitious but exciting”.