A COMMUNITY farm is set to shine after installing 20 solar panels on a barn roof.

Lower Shaw Farm in west Swindon got the best Christmas present last year after Swindon Council signed a 25-year lease with the trustees.

Now, to mark the first year anniversary of the lease, owner Matt Holland has switched on the first solar panels on the farm. Matt said: “I am delighted and excited to be able to say we now have solar panels on Lower Shaw Farm.

“I have been wanting to install these for a few years but we were only on a one-year rolling lease so we couldn’t do anything.

"The issue was finally solved a year ago and we agreed a 25-year lease which was a really great decision not just for the farm but for Swindon as a whole.

“Here we are coming to the end of our first year and we wanted to mark this first year with one of the things we were most interested in investing in.

“We have invested in 20 solar panels to go on the big red barn on the farm where the children play, which is a great image thinking that children are playing below where the sun is making energy.

“This is the first step and we are hoping to make the farm carbon-neutral.”

The solar panels produce five kilowatts, which is the equivalent to 3,000 15-minute showers each year.

Matt said: “Five years ago, there was a proposal to demolish the farm and make way for homes but there was such strong support from the local community.

“This has taken a long time, and I am glad they came to the right decision. We can’t wait to get on with projects that we couldn’t do in the past because people wouldn’t invest without the security of the lease.”

The former dairy farm has been praised by the Government as a shining example of learning outside the classroom.

Classes in everything from circus skills to yoga are held there. It is also a venue for writing and poetry groups and is the base for the Swindon Festival of Literature.