Beryl and Roger Hosking

Beryl and Roger Hosking run a free range farm in Derbyshire, called Highfield Happy Hens, but it’s no ordinary free range farm. What began in 1984 as an interest for residents at a hostel for homeless teenagers has become an award – winning organisation which offers an opportunity for troubled youngsters where they can learn life skills and earn a living at the same time.

The flock of 24,000 free range hens, which are kept in six sheds, live alongside other farm animals. All the animals are looked after by a team of 15 paid staff working with over 30 youngsters each week who are ‘struggling at school’, but who have chosen to take the opportunity to rebuild their lives. As a troubled child himself, Roger was keen to prove that there’s good in everyone and at the same time he was keen to promote the benefits of free range farming. In the 1980s he was active in the creation and early development of the British Free Range Egg Producers Association.

In 1999 the couple launched Highfield Happy Hens in Bulgaria. Another one was launched in Honduras and another in Uganda. In 2001, Roger, together with the Rev Gordon Gatwood from the Rank organisation, started the National Care Farming Initiative and there are now 179 Care Farms in the UK. In 2001 Highfield officially became a school for youngsters excluded from school and in 2011 Roger received the MBE.

In recently receiving an Outstanding Achievement Award, Roger and his wife, Beryl, have now been honoured by BFREPA too, the organisation he helped to found, for showing that hens can do much more than simply lay eggs.

Highfield Happy Hens is open to the public and has tea rooms and a farm shop which provide valuable funding to keep the project going. You can find out more about the National Care Farming Initiative at www.ncfi.org.uk

There’s two good eggs if ever you saw them!

Read about more of our British free range farmers who are ‘Flying the British Egg Flag’.

We are always interested to promote good examples of free range farming, if you would like to nominate a local farmer for our British egg flag, let us know at info@bhwt.org.uk, titling your email Flying the British Egg Flag and we’ll check them out and let readers know.

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