A tired and old stable block at Chichester Harbour has been transformed into a farm-based education centre.
Based on an organic beef farm in the largest area of coastal grazing marsh in the Chichester Harbour Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), the centre – called The Stables – will be used to highlight the important role farming plays in helping to manage the landscape of the harbour and the wildlife which depends upon it.
It will also be used to encourage farmers to manage this rare and valuable habitat elsewhere in the harbour.
AONB manager Alison Fowler, who has led the project, said: “The aim of the project was to convert the old stables into a resource that will benefit the landscape and environment as well as provide a valuable asset for farmers, schools and the wider AONB community.
“The new buildings look stunning and we look forward to welcoming many people here over the coming years.”
Work on the stable block at Eames Farm on Thorney Island started in October 2010. The conversion of the traditional brick and flint building was planned to have a minimal impact on the landscape of the AONB and to retain many of the original features.
Nestled amongst fields, the centre features sustainable practices such as a bio-digester and reedbed for treating on-site sewage.
Various initiatives and activities will be planned at the centre so the public can visit a working farm and learn more about where our local food comes from and how the coastal grazing marsh is managed.
In addition, the site will provide a valuable extension to the Conservancy’s Education Service, allowing school children to visit and experience the realities of modern farming with field trips linked to the National Curriculum. The modern facilities will also be made available for use and hire by local groups.
The Stables are on land managed by Chichester Harbour Conservancy and a local farmer and leased to the Chichester Harbour Trust by West Sussex County Council.
Sir Jeremy Thomas, chairman of the Chichester Harbour Trust, said: “West Sussex County Council had the foresight to protect this fine landscape by working with The Trust. We are grateful to them and all the other funding partners for making this beautiful building possible.”
Funding came from Friends of Chichester Harbour, Chichester Harbour Sustainable Development Fund, Three Harbours and Coastal Plain Leader Project, The FG Woodger Trust, The Ernest Kleinwort Trust, West Sussex County Council and Chichester Harbour Conservancy.