The farm for over 34 years has provided the local and wider community with a working farm learning resource and a relaxing family friendly leisure facility. But since March of last year we have been closed, and for everyone, our ways of working and socializing has changed in a way no-one could have foreseen, or planned for.
This article is a small tribute to our staff and volunteers for all their hard work, and dedication, caring for the farm, the animals and gardens, as well as a big thank to everyone who has supported us during the pandemic.
Our large animals were housed in Kent, from the beginning of the pandemic. Farm owners offered free board. Our Kerry Hill sheep and their lambs, born just before the pandemic, the three pigs and our ponies Hazel and Luna were also housed in surrounding areas by local farmers. Ola and Hazel arrived back to the farm in November, much to the delight of Clover the donkey.
MARCH - MAY
Spring is always a busy time at the farm, and the pandemic did not stop our plants from growing and animals being born. Incubated duck and chicken eggs hatched in March. Brahma and Buff Orpington chickens and Indian runner, Caygua and Aylesbury ducks were a welcomed delight to the farm and our beautiful Angol Nubian goats gave birth to a few kids of their own.
The Farm welcomed Food Cycle to the farm at the beginning of the pandemic. From our straw bale room they were able to continue supporting vulnerable people and families in the community with weekly fresh food donated by the Felix Project.
Small businesses and social enterprises based at the farm had to change their working practices quickly. Frizzante Café closed its door in April and re opened to customers in July by developing a delivery service, utilizing the cafe's terrace and farm's front garden area
Package free food shop Get Loose made changes to their shop to make it Covid safe for their customers. They also helped the farm shop selling all the farm grown vegetable and flower plants.
JUNE - SEPTEMBER
The farm's growing season was highly successful last year. Many of the vegetable seeds were sown earlier in the year by a group of students from Kings College, participants of a new employment training program started by the farm in 2019 "Growing Skills" for young adults with learning disabilities.
Majority of the food grown in 2020 was given away to local residents, Food cycle and local hot food distribution charities such as Women's Initiative Team based in Tower Hamlets, as well as sold to the community through package free food shop "Get Loose" based at the farm
Educational provisions for most children of all ages were closed, as were many provisions for the under fives during the first and second lockdown. Families and carers with and without access to a garden were finding it difficult to find safe, outdoor spaces for their children to get their one hour of exercise, as well as a decline in their children's social and physical development due to the lack of interaction with other children and environments
To support the youngest in our community, the farm opened the gates, two mornings a week to toddlers.
Educational activities were laid out for toddlers to explore in the farms woodland and garden areas. Many parents and carers found the sessions at the farm beneficial to their well being as well as their children.
In December more lockdown regulations were imposed on everyone, and the toddler sessions also had to close.
We are hopeful the farm will be open again to the community in April, and we are planning to restart toddlers and their carers sessions at the farm again.
From all of us here at the farm, a big thank you for your support over the last year, and please continue to stay safe.
Hopefully we will see each other again from April