Kentish Town City Farm, London

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Credit: A.Levac

The first city farm - going from strength to strength

Kentish Town City Farm (KTCF) was the first City Farm in the UK. Founded in 1972, this four-acre project has livestock and horses, a riding school, gardening space, a wildlife area, orchard and a focus for education and community work with thousands of users.

The farm developed out of the needs of local people. It was initiated in 1972 through the medium of an existing community group and the project was developed by Inter-Action Trust. It became so popular that the trust had to set up in-service for groups in London and beyond wanting to do similar work. This led to the formation of the National Federation of City Farms (later renamed the Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens - FCFCG).

The farm is located amidst dense local authority housing in north-west London and situated alongside and above railway lines. It uses some original buildings from the time when the railways were built. New stables have been added to these. Part of the area is an orchard used for grazing, community/farming, a garden and wildlife area. There is a classroom, stables, disabled access (hard paths and decks all through) and toilets, gardens and seating areas.  

Rachel Schwartz, Director, describes what the farm has to offer.

"Throughout our 48-year history, we have brought the community together to support, educate and enhance the lives of the most vulnerable amongst us, using farming as our platform. From the beginning we have offered hands-on volunteering and learning through Young Farmers, Pony Club, gardening, family activities including cooking and crafts, community festivals, playschemes, 'Learning Outside The Classroom' educational tours and a Friends of the Farm group. Kentish Town City Farm is open 7 days a week with supported volunteering every day.  

"Recently KTCF staff and membership fought back attempts to reduce services and reorganize the farm along a more commercial business model. Some of the local people, volunteers, and members who volunteered their time and energy to protect the farm's values now serve as Trustees. Under their leadership, the farm is re-energizing its gardening programme to better deliver on the therapeutic and educational aspects of our mission.  

"The Trustees are also working to identify more ways for the Farm to model environmentally sustainable practices. These include the installation of solar panels and a shift away from meat farming towards more agricultural farming. Balancing this work with the desire that local people have for a working farm with young animals mirrors the real-world struggle of balancing human desire with the needs of our planet's wellbeing."

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