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Vauxhall City Farm steps up fundraising appeal to re-open bigger and better

By Marion Weaver

 

Vauxhall City Farm is calling for help from the public to launch a new community garden, better animal enclosures and improve its visitor spaces after the pandemic.

In plans that will cost up to £900,000, the City Farm has revealed plans for a community garden, which will serve as an education space for people of all ages to come and learn about plants, animals, growing and health – with a particular focus on making it accessible for disabled people.

It will open up a fifth of the site that was unused before, into extra space covering nearly a square kilometre.

The charity, which educates 5000 young people a year through workshops, will also spend the money on more animals including alpacas, pigs, donkeys, budgies, canaries and chinchillas.

Under the plans, the farm’s greenhouse space will be doubled in size, while creating ‘mini forests’, a quiet space, and an outdoor classroom.  

Over lockdown the farm lost 81% of its income. After closing in March 2020, it missed from visitor donations and income from their café, riding school and school programmes.

In response, the charity set up a fundraising appeal which has so far raised £400,000 from public donations and grants. One neighbour raised £7,500 for the farm from a step-a-thon on his door-step.

Monica Tyler, CEO of Vauxhall City Farm told Lambeth Life the strength of support from Vauxhall and across Lambeth has been ‘brilliant’.

The farm opened its doors again on April 13 with free entry, kicking off with an Easter Club programme for young children to learn about bees, insects and pollination.

The farm’s riding school will also reopen in August with upgrades, a new ramp for wheelchairs and new horses. It is one of the few south London riding schools accessible to disabled people.

Ms Tyler said: “If you look across South London you see how many riding schools have closed in the last few years. We want to be one of those riding schools that is open for a whole spectrum of the community, and certainly offer RDA lessons.”

The planned new community garden will offer the chance for 80 people to go there for two hours a week to learn to grow vegetables and take a planter home to put on their balconies.

Ms Tyler said: “It’s all about growing locally and having that local experience of food supply. We’re hoping that we can contribute to that. We’ve seen a rise in food banks and it’s been very challenging in this pandemic in terms of food poverty. We aim to play our part in all of that as well through our community gardens.”

Lockdown saw many get ‘re-connected’ with nature, and the new community garden will build on that.

The City Farm CEO said: “I like the community aspect. I like the fact that it’s an organisation that brings everybody together.

“You come on the farm, you see every kind of person. It is just wonderful. The pandemic has been so challenging for our mental health. It’s organisations like us who are going to be part of that recovery.”

The farm’s plans are not stopping there. Ms Tyler says they hope to offer subsidised riding lessons for people in surrounding areas from low-income backgrounds.

You can donate to the crowdfunder appeal here.

 

 

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