WESC Country Works at West Hill

Tucked away just off the A30 – just 15 minutes from Exeter – is a horticulture/forest project called WESC Country Works.

We offer outdoor learning experiences to anyone regardless of their disability, including the children and young people from across the WESC Foundation community.

The story of West Hill

WESC Foundation took over the management of the “WESC Country Works” site at West Hill in January 2017. We inherited a ten acre plot that was totally overgrown, but recognised the potential to create an inclusive sensory learning environment in the Devon countryside. Our aim is to use this amazing space to help support young people and adults who are disadvantaged through various disabilities by providing fun activities, new experiences and training.

Thanks to the support of our staff and volunteers, Otter Garden Centres, and countless others, our successes to date have included:

  • Creating a network of wheelchair-accessible pathways and bridges across a previously inaccessible site.
  • Establishing a forest school for WESC Foundation students and other young people.
  • Planting 300 saplings donated by The Woodland Trust
  • Growing bedding plants, herbs and vegetables for sale in our Charity Shops and to local businesses.
  • Developing individual zones including a small orchard, wild flower meadow, sensory garden and vegetable gardens.
  • Managing woodland and laying new hedges.

What we do

Engaging Learning Opportunities

Young people from WESC Foundation visit West Hill as part of a 24-hour functional curriculum. We also host other visiting community groups including schools and disability charities. The WESC Country Works experience includes opportunities for forest school, tree planting, herb cultivation and helping to increase the biodiversity of the site. Organic vegetable production is another important activity. WESC Foundation young people learn about growing vegetables, as well as taking produce back to campus to use in cookery classes. The remainder is sold to local businesses and at food markets in the Ottery St Mary Area.

Ongoing development of the site

Staff and volunteers work together to complete core infrastructure projects as part of our plans to develop the site. These have included laying hundreds of metres of paths, and even building a new bridge using sustainably-sourced timber from the site.

Want to get involved?

Supporting the project as a volunteer

We rely on the support of our volunteers who help manage the 10 acre site. There is a wide range of jobs to be done throughout the year, from watering and weeding through to major projects like laying paths and building bridges (and everything in between!)
As well as getting out and working in the glorious Devon countryside you will also learn new skills from Patrick, our experienced project manager, and help create amazing learning and sensory environments for young people with sight loss and other disabilities.
For more information email pphillips@wescfoundation.ac.uk or read the blog https://wesccountryworks.blogspot.com

Making a donation to WESC Foundation

  • a gift of £10 could help a young people with visual impairment plant herbs in our new sensory garden.
  • by giving £30 you could pay for a set of hand tools for one of our students.
  • a kind donation of £50 would allow a young person to experience the West Hill Forest School.

Donate online

Donate by cheque

Please make cheques payable to WESC Foundation and send to Fundraising, WESC Foundation, Topsham Road, Exeter, EX2 6HA.

Our people

Patrick Phillips (Horticulture Project Manager, West Hill) joined us in March 2017 and oversees the development of the site. He graduated from the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh with a BSc in Horticulture with Plantsmanship and has managed the gardens of Askham Bryan College and Cothay Manor. Patrick is assisted by a loyal and enthusiastic team of volunteers who get involved with anything from watering and weeding to propagation and bridge building.

Along the way we have been helped by volunteering groups from Devon County Council, Exeter College “Positive Pathways”, The Prince’s Trust, The Department of Work and Pensions, Michelmores Solicitors, and many more.