A leading autism charity in the North of England and an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in Ryedale have combined forces in double mission

Using funding from their Farming in Protected Landscapes programme, the Howardian Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is supporting Autism Plus to promote regenerative agriculture and engage with a range of people to help them enjoy and understand the natural world, and provide learning opportunities for young people.

Last week North Yorkshire Councillor George Jabbour met with Autism Plus manager Michelle Lumb, horticultural lead Ambrose Gruenfeld, and other members of the team who are creating a conservation focused teaching centre on a five-acre site in Gilling East. They were joined by the assistant horticultural manager, Oliver Clive.

Councillor Jabbour, who is also Vice Chair of the Howardian Hills AONB Joint Advisory Committee, said: “The variety of positive initiatives that the Ryedale team of Autism Plus carries out is inspiring. I was impressed by the results that the brilliant partnership between this wonderful charity and the Howardian Hills AONB has already achieved so far.

“During the visit, I saw the work that is taking place to build a polytunnel to propagate endangered local wild flowers so that they can be planted in meadows and hedgerows across Ryedale and saved for future generations.

“I also had the chance to congratulate Autism Plus on the opening of their new chocolate shop and cafe in Easingwold last week to support young adults with autism and learning disabilities.”

The Farming in Protected Landscapes programme aims to work with farmers and land managers to enhance and promote nature recovery by supporting projects that benefit climate, nature, people and place.

Autism Plus manager Michelle Lumb and horticultural leads Ambrose Gruenfeld and Oliver Clive commented: “The funding that we have received from the Howardian Hills AONB has supported us in our task to create more professional, vocational and educational opportunities in a vibrant, warm and welcoming setting.

“This unique environment offers numerous possibilities to develop skills, create sensory journeys and engage with nature, not only for adults with autism and associated disabilities, but also for young people who are enrolled at local schools, attend Ryedale Out Of School Education and come from a range of backgrounds.”

Other farmers and landowners can find out more about the Farming in Protected Landscapes programme at howardianhills.org.uk/grants or contact Nick Burrows, Farm Conservation Officer via 07816 251191, nicholas.burrows@northyorks.gov.uk

The Howardian Hills AONB covers 204 sq km (79 sq miles) of the North Yorkshire countryside, nestled between the North York Moors National Park, the Yorkshire Wolds and the Vale of York. It is a unique and captivating landscape with its well-wooded rolling countryside, patchwork of arable and pasture fields, scenic villages and historic country houses with classic parkland landscapes. The Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty designation was confirmed in 1987, in recognition of its national landscape importance.