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City Farms

©Barry Carter 2002 - 2021

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Four City Farms: Spitalfields, Mudchute, Stepney and Hackney

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Four farms in East London

On the Isle of Dogs, close to the Asda store, you will find Mudchute Park and Farm. The Docklands Light Railway also has a station nearby.
Spitalfields City Farm is located in Buxton Street, just off of Brick Lane. Whitechapel or Shoreditch High Street stations are about the same distance walk.
Stepney City Farm is in Stepney Way, 10 mins. walk away from Stepney Green Underground or Limehouse on the DLR. Buses 309 and 339 also pass the farm.
Hackney City Farm is in Hackney Road, next to the old children's hospital. 26 or 55 buses pass it and Hoxton station is not far away.
All four farms are charities and rely heavily on grants and donations. Volunteers also help keep the farms going. They are all working farms with both animal and agriculture, and all are free to visit. They are also providing education to children.

I have taken the liberty of copying the farm’s own self description, from their website:
“Set in 32 acres of countryside in the heart of East London, the Mudchute is a community charity, with a working farm, stables, a children’s nursery and a wide range of education activities. We are open every day, free of charge.”
The land it occupies came from the digging of the docks in the 19th. Century. The soil and sludge was transported their by a giant chute, hence the name of the farm.
In the early 1970’s the land was to be used to build a housing estate but local protest was so strong that the idea was abandoned and in 1977 the Mudchute Association began to cultivate the land and introduce animals. It is now a thriving farm with it’s own stables and riding school.
I took my grandchildren there quite a few years ago so the photos are a bit old. I’ll return for some more when this Covid-19 pandemic is over (2020).
Mudchute farm website:

Mudchute Farm

Spitalfields City Farm

Once again, I have copied the farm’s own introduction from their website:
“Our farm offers many opportunities to engage with. Daily volunteering involves working with animals and helping out in the gardens. Schools from near and far also come to one of our guided tours/workshops, where we also offer bespoke courses and tours. The farm is a great place to hold parties for all ages but make a booking and check dates as we get very busy. You can of course always visit for free 6 days a week, Tuesday – Sunday. Enjoy our gardens and meet the rare breed farm animals.”
Just like the other farms it relies on council funding and public donations.
The Spitalfields City Farm began to emerge in 1978 on an old railway goods depot on Pedley Street. Local people began converting the wasteland into allotments. Soon, small animals along with Geese and Chickens began to appear there.
It was well maintained by the locals and eventually merited some funding from the council. It became very popular with people and soon it was capable of taking on a small staff to work alongside the volunteers.
It was registered as a charity in 1980 but nearly went under in 1987 due to cash shortage. It continues to flourish now, with donations and public funding. I sincerely hope it continues to grow. With all the building work going on in the surrounding areas, this site must be a tempting target for the developers.
Spitalfields City Farm website:

Stepney City Farm

A section of the farm’s history copied from their website:
Residents in London’s East End got together in 1979 to set up a community farm on a derelict site bombed in World War II, originally called Stepping Stones Farm.
In the years running up to 2009 and following the death of one of the founding members, the site began to fall into disrepair and faced closure. A new charity, Stepney City Farm, made up of local residents who tirelessly volunteered their time, effort and creativity, took over in 2010. Work by people from all ages and backgrounds has brought about an increase in the number of paid staff who have in turn been able to generate change through their leadership and skill…” continued ^
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Stepney City Farm (continued)

Although at the time of updating, this website (2020) all city farms are closed due to the Covid-19 virus, the Stepney City Farm normally has lots of activities going on throughout the year. Educational courses are available, including bee keeping and rural arts. They also have a farmers market.
The farm has a variety of animals including sheep, pigs,  goats, chickens, ducks, geese, donkeys, ferrets, guinea pigs and rabbits.
You can hire various parts of the farm for special events from children’s parties to filming locations.
Stepney City Farm website:

Hackney City Farm

Situated in Goldsmith Row, just off of Hackney Road is yet another farm; Hackney City Farm.
Once again, I’ll use a small section from their website as an introduction:
For over 20 years, Hackney City Farm has been giving the local community the opportunity to experience farming right in the heart of the city.
We offer children and adults the opportunity to get up close to a range of farmyard animals; see, smell and plant vegetables and other food plants; and learn new skills to live a healthier, happier life with a lower environmental impact.
As a city farm in London, we are dedicated to helping people learn about food, nature and the environment. Our unique setting inspires children and adults to participate in our courses, workshops and lessons and leave with new knowledge, friendships and inspiration.
We receive about 3 school visits a week – school groups, like everyone else can visit for free! We offer specific workshops designed to take learning a step further, such as Growing Food, Habitats – Mini-beasts and Chicken and Egg.”
Hackney City Farm website: