A HEADTEACHER who has long dreamed of building a farm for his students is ready to start “digging the foundations” after detailed plans were submitted.

Market Field School, in Elmstead Market, first unveiled an ambition to build a one-of-a-kind facility called the Market Field Farm back in 2018.

The initiative, which will provide pathways to employment, will create a space in which pupils with learning difficulties can experience a working environment.

In partnership with Landswood developers and managing director Darin Shaikly, Market Field School has now sent plans for the project to Tendring Council.


The blueprints, which have been shown to the Gazette, suggest building the farm on vacant land opposite the Chattowood housing development in Clacton Road.

If the plans are approved, the farm will utilise six-acres of land which will boast a core building which will serve as classroom and public facility.

There will also be paddocks for animals, horticultural growing spaces, polytunnels, public gardens and associated support facilities such as staff rooms.

Gary Smith OBE, Market Field principal, said: “There has been meeting after meeting, but I have met with councillors, and they are appreciating of what we are trying to do.

“The proposal has been in place for about three years, but the plans have just been bounced around different people who chose not to take them on.

“So, having now submitted them to the council, this is the first of a series of vital stages and definitely the furthest we have managed to get so far.

“I have my shovel and boots, so I am now ready to start digging the foundations, and once it’s built, I will be able to walk there to get my eggs every morning.

“I am hoping if we put everything behind this it will gather momentum – this has been a lifelong dream and I believe in the power of positive thinking and action.”

Since joining Market Field School more than 30 years ago, Mr Smith has campaigned for children with learning difficulties to have the opportunities as everyone else.


He is now hoping if his farm can get off the ground, it will act as a precedent and a launchpad for similar projects throughout the country.

“If this works maybe the idea could actually be rolled out nationally with maybe more developers wanting to make a difference,” added Mr Smith.

“The farm will be simply life-changing for these young adults, and it is a joy to see, and I feel quite emotional about it.

“I feel like we are transforming lives and that is something you cannot quantify - it is just fantastic and the sooner it happens the better.”