The decision by local charity Daybreak to move their operation from the walled garden to Barnard Castle has offered Minsteracres the opportunity to fulfill its ambition to provide skills training for young adults from deprived areas.

In 2012 Gateshead Church Fund gave money towards the much needed installation of a biomass boiler at Minsteracres on the understanding that the 20 year revenue awarded under the government’s RHI (renewable heat incentive) scheme was used to train young people. The walled garden offers a perfect base with an office, classroom space, kitchen, toilets and a two acre garden to grow fruit and vegetables.

“Training will be provided for small, discrete groups of five or six people at a time. Based on a working estate, it will give students practical, real-world experience using traditional skills,” says Andrew Pennington, who will lead the development. This initiative, named Sequoia Training, will be accredited through long-standing collaborators Kirkley Hall.

“In the long term we plan to run a horticulture project in the walled garden providing food for the table at Minsteracres too,” says Andrew.

Alongside training, the walled garden will provide a base for our existing estate volunteers, and a focal point for schools and other visitors coming to learn about the natural world. “It will bring together Minsteracres’ charitable aims of honouring creation and spirituality, outreach and conservation,” says Andrew.