There are currently over 50 City Farms across the UK, providing vital services that help young people connect with the natural world, food, farming and the wider community.
Why are City Farms important for Young People?
Young people living in the most deprived areas of our cities face economic disadvantage, family fracturing, disability, caring responsibilities, mental health issues, gang and drug problems, lack of job prospects and limited access to nature.
The Impact of the Pandemic
The provision for young people has worsened during the pandemic with many youth clubs closing or reducing in person activities. Levels of anxiety, depression and isolation has increased, with younger people missing out on opportunities to socialise. There are less work experience opportunities and City Farms are now some of the only places in our cities offering free engagement, mental health support, apprenticeships and work experience.
How are Young People Referred to City Farms?
The most common referral pathways are through; School/Colleges, Youth groups, Local charities, Educational Psychologists, Pupil Referral Units, Young Carers, Youth Offending Teams and Safer Schools teams
What do Young People do at City Farms?
City Farms provide apprenticeships, work and volunteering placements, training and youth clubs. Young people gain practical experience in all aspects of animal care and food growing. There are Young Farmer schemes and Youth Committees enabling young people to lead their own environmental and social action projects which helps their job prospects, self esteem and confidence.
What do City Farms mean to Young People?
We interviewed Orphée, a 'Greenager' and former Young Farmer and Youth Committee member from Surrey Docks City Farm.
"I came to Surrey Docks Farm to learn more about animals and the environment and to develop useful skills. I enjoy spending time with the animals and gardening. I also enjoy the more active activities which we do like woodwork. Going to the Farm has helped me to overcome my fears of animals and helped me to learn a lot more about them. It has given me a better introspective view on the environment and the ways in which humans have impacted the planet. It has taught me ways in which I can help to improve my relationship with nature.
I think that city farms are important because it helps young people to become more interested in learning about nature and animals. It can be a relaxing environment to be in and can be another more casual form of education which is fun. I think it's a good way to get young people outdoors."
City Farms anticipate a continued increase in the demand for their services in the next 2 years. Programmes are already oversubscribed and there are huge numbers of young people waiting for spaces. City Farms are in need of additional staffing, funding, resources and space to keep up with demand.
There is a clear need for more funding for youth provision at community farms and gardens to keep up with the demand.