We’re delighted that Waterloo City Farm has been commended for the The Mayor’s Prize at the NLA Awards yesterday. Since its inception in 2014, the project has become an important part of our community; welcoming not only school pupils during the week but also hosting support networks, rehabilitation groups, local residents and Young Farmers. Its contribution has become more than the sum of its parts and demonstrates the positive impact a meanwhile use can have. Below are more details about the farm’s impact. A big thank you to everyone involved!
The Mayor’s Prize:
Waterloo City Farm serves the London boroughs of Lambeth and Southwark, the 22nd and 23rd most deprived boroughs in the UK (out of 326), where 59% of children are living in poverty and the unemployment rate is 35% above the London average. This collaborative project has transformed an overgrown, unsafe and inaccessible site into a safe support network that is embedded within the community.
Jamie’s farm transforms the lives of urban children at the risk of exclusion between the ages of 11-16 by offering a unique residential stay on one of the charity’s rural working farms. Waterloo City Farm has offered an opportunity to bring Jamie’s work to central London. Pupils from schools run by Oasis regularly visit the farm as a part of their core curriculum. 30% of the students visiting the farm have been at risk of exclusion and, on a six-week follow up, 55% are no longer at risk. The farm has also reported a 79% improvement on the self esteem of those that have visited.
In a city where children often do not have access to outdoor space – gardens, parks, balconies – the farm offers nearly 2000sqm of green and usable space. Activities such as mucking out the animals, propagation, woodwork and craft are offered to all through the introduction of Oasis’ Young Farmers; a free initiative to connect young people and encourage a healthy and more active lifestyle. Through the animals and harvesting fruit and vegetables on site, young people learn where our food comes from and have the opportunity to understand how to cook fresh and healthy food.
The site relies on the generosity of volunteers and is instrumental in inter-connecting the diverse community to create a site that is beneficial to all. The site is level access throughout and all walkways have been designed to be wheelchair accessible. Plants are at low level enabling everyone within the community to take part and be socially integrated. For example, a local resident living in temporary accommodation has visited every Saturday for a coffee and company; including on her 70th birthday when she celebrated with the volunteers!
The farm offers a variety of types of space – from the large, celebratory barn to the therapeutic and secluded walled garden. They work alongside mental health charities, alcohol rehabilitation groups, amongst others, to provide group sessions and one to one support. It also provides events such as jazz evenings, workshops and Christmas markets, bringing people together and being a welcome centre for the community. So far, approximately 1300 people have attended the events and this number continues to rise.
The vision for the farm is to be a support that is embedded in the community and is an inspiration and aspiration for those who visit; the most beautiful city farm in London.