MP Barry Sheerman joined Yorkshire Wildlife Trust staff for the start of work on a project to turn a derelict barn into an eco-learning centre.

Mr Sheerman met Yorkshire Wildlife Trust (YWT) bosses and representatives from the trust’s partner Veolia to celebrate the start of work on the ‘Cre8 Barn’ at Stirley Farm, Newsome.

Veolia Environmental Trust awarded YWT £300,000 to finance the conversion of the barn, which had been disused for 10 years, into an education and visitor centre for the farm.

The Labour MP for Huddersfield was joined by Veolia chairman, Oswald Dodds, and YWT chief executive, Rob Stoneman, as well as representatives of groups using the farm to learn about food and growing vegetables.

Although the converted barn will retain much of the building’s original character, it will be constructed to the stringent ‘Passivhaus’ standard, which means the barn must be an ultra-low energy use building.

It must require the minimum of energy for space heating or cooling, without affecting the comfort of the people using it.

The barn, which is expected to open in winter 2013, will have displays about sustainable farming, a meeting space, toilet facilities and a kitchen where people can learn how to cook healthy dishes using sustainably produced ingredients.

Speaking about the start of the work, Mr Sheerman said: “This is a vote of confidence in a wonderful project which will involve so many local people in this wonderful community farm.

“Already Stirley Community Farm is a place to learn about growing vegetables and locally produced food and sustainability.

“This barn conversion will make this project fully accessible to the growing number of people who want to be involved as supporters, volunteers and visitors.”

Since 2010, YWT has been transforming the farm into a sustainable community farm and centre for environmentally responsible agriculture, animal husbandry and education.

Mr Stoneman added: “Stirley Community Farm is an ambitious but exciting project for YWT. It complements our vision for a Living Landscape in West Yorkshire, which sees connected wildlife areas in both urban and rural areas and in which local people live in harmony with the environment, inspired by the wild places on their doorstep.

“With work already underway to involve local people in wildlife-friendly food growing and farming, the work funded by The Veolia Environmental Trust, which includes the Cre8 barn, can only bring us closer to this goal.”