It may sound strange, but one of the most successful new healthcare providers in Beccles is a 143-acre mixed farm, which offers ‘farming on prescription’ and aims to help patients deal with a range of mental and physical health problems.
Clinks Care Farm, just outside Beccles, is run by Doeke Dobma along with his wife, Iris van Zon, both 50. Doeke told the Guardian: “For too long, people have been prescribed medication,” Doeke says. “But there is another route. When people are engaged and have a connection with nature, often something magical happens.”
The basic idea is that people are prescribed a course of farm work which sees them working with animals and plants as part of a team, building confidence as well as providing exercise, fresh air and vocational training.
Doeke and Iris hail from the Netherlands, where the concept of Care Farms is an accepted part of the national health plan. The Netherlands has over 1,100 farms where patients can engage with nature and agriculture.