About City Farms and Community Gardens
What are city farms and community gardens?
They are community-managed projects working with people, animals and plants. They range from tiny wildlife gardens to fruit and vegetable plots on housing estates, from community polytunnels to large city farms.
They exist mainly in urban areas and are created in response to a lack of access to green space, combined with a desire to encourage strong community relationships and an awareness of gardening and farming.
City farms and community gardens are usually set up by local volunteers. Some larger community farms and gardens go on to employ paid workers, while smaller groups rely on dedicated volunteers. Most groups are run by a management committee of local people and some are run as partnerships with local authorities, whilst retaining strong local involvement.
These groups provide food-growing activities, training courses, school visits, community allotments and community businesses. In addition, some provide play facilities and sports facilities, and after school and holiday schemes.
Benefits of city farms and community gardens
Provide productive, creative, safe, high quality open spaces
Offer opportunities for people to learn new skills and abilities, either informally or on formal accredited training courses
Provide approximately 2,500 training places for adults with learning disabilities each year
Add to the economic wealth of the area in which they are situated
Employ the equivalent of approximately 500 full-time paid staff and over 15,000 volunteers
Have a combined annual turnover of up to £40 million
Improve physical and mental health in their communities
Provide a valuable tool for bringing people together of different abilities, ages and cultures
Aid in community cohesion and community development
Are often producers of fresh food
Allow many communities contact with real live food (both animals and plants)
Attract more than three million visitors and regular users every year - around 50,000 of these visitors are school pupils
Why do they matter to people?
"It's all about including people, providing a 'growing space' for groups and individuals. People come to the farm because they want to work with animals, but they stay because of the people.
- Rob Gayler, Farm Manager, Lambourne End Centre, Essex
"We are worried about pollution and litter. People can learn about farms and how to care for them and not be so selfish."
- Hirza Mahmood, aged 11
"I felt institutionalised after spending many months in hospital. I was at rock bottom, then I started working at Redhall Walled Garden. It gave me purpose, I no longer dreaded waking up and the sheer physical activity felt good. I learned to laugh again and I have hope. Redhall is a very special place. At Redhall I was part of something not defined in mental health terms. I was a gardener."
- Some months after she started at Redhall Trish left hospital and moved into her own flat and has since found a job.
Gardening is a joy that recognises no restrictions of race or class or wealth or education: it unites and enriches us all. What community gardeners have in common is their determination and their biggest resource is ingenuity.
- Gardening Which? magazine