New life for Old Dairy


A dilapidated and forgotten old farm building has been transformed into a new animal care centre.

The Old Dairy at Poole Farm has undergone an extensive renovation and is now home to a number of Animal Care and Land Management courses run by Duchy College.

The farm can now accommodate guinea pigs, rabbits, mice and hamsters and the students attend the farm twice a week to learn the skills required before setting out on careers in veterinary care and agriculture.

Poole Farm is run and operated by Plymouth City Council and is at the heart of the new Derriford Community Park.

Patrick Nicholson, Deputy Leader and Cabinet member for Strategic Transport, Housing and Planning said: “Having seen how the Old Dairy looked when the council first took possession of Poole Farm, I am delighted to now see a generation of young people gaining such wonderful skills.

“Derriford Community Park is a unique place and we are incredibly proud of what we have achieved here. I am sure that this fantastic community asset will continue to flourish.”

After consultation with the community last year, the Derriford Community Park team and local secondary schools identified the gap in Animal Care and Land Management courses available locally for sixth form students in Plymouth.

A partnership quickly developed between the Council, Duchy College and the Plymouth Learning and Experience consortium to utilise the new community asset of Poole Farm and in May 2017, work began to renovate the Old Dairy. A full time Animal Care Apprentice was also appointed to help with the operation of the farm.

In total, 10 students were recruited to the course and in September, the first Level 1 Animal Care course began, with the aspiration for progression to Level 2. The students have been heavily involved in setting up the unit and helping the new animals settle in to their new surroundings and in their first week were helping farm staff to herd the cows to new pastures.

Carol Knight, Curriculum Lead for Animal Science at Duchy College added: “This has been an exciting new opportunity to work with Plymouth City Council and Plymouth Schools to offer Animal Care programmes at Poole Farm, in the heart of Plymouth. These students are really enjoying their course and are already learning a huge amount about animal welfare and the wide range of career options within this sector.”

A new group of students will be recruited to take part in the course in September 2018 and as Poole Farm grows as a site with more farm animals the students will have the opportunity to broaden their skills and experience.

Find out more about Poole Farm and how you can volunteer to help by clicking here.