I Love City Farms

For every lout who picks the heads off all the foxgloves and all the immature apples off our tree there are scores of people doing decent things. I was reminded of this yesterday when I went down to Surrey Docks City Farm. It was a bit like visiting another (unknown) country but that is the wonder of London; there is always a new area or street to discover. This time, Rotherhithe – the setting off point for the Mayflower.

Looking north from Rotherhithe
Looking north from Rotherhithe

It was a baking, still, head-shrinking day but I created my own breeze on my bike gently rolling along Rotherhithe Street, probably once overshadowed by great warehouses taking on sugar and timber, now overshadowed by 1980s warehouse conversions, 1930s villas and lots of new apartment blocks.

The farm is right on the river with amazing views of the north bank and the Isle of Dogs. They have lots of goats, cows, pigs, turkeys, ducks, geese, bees and two donkeys. It is a working farm and adults with learning difficulties produce vegetables for their farm shop. While I was there a corporate volunteer group was being inducted, a crowd of tiny children was awe-struck by the goats, older children were sweeping the yard and parents were introducing their children to the animals – and raspberries. I was there to do a recce for a dye workshop I’m doing there so I had a tour of the wildlife area, the vegetable plots, the cafe (for an ice cream) the animals and the dye bed. It was a wonderful place to be and I’d urge anyone to visit – and make a donation.

City Farms are free to visit. They provide an extraordinary valuable resource for the inner city’s residents who are becoming more and more divorced from nature. People who work there are dedicated and (probably) underpaid. They provide oases of calm and pockets of nature among the brick, Tarmac, concrete and glass. Respite from the stresses of the city. And I’m doing my next dye workshop there (10th August).

Goats in the city.
Goats in the city.
The dye garden at Surrey Docks Farm - scene of my next workshop. 10th August.
The dye garden at Surrey Docks Farm – scene of my next workshop. 10th August.

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