THE BLOG

Down On The Farm

07/11/2016 12:34

In the early 1990s when a farmer decided to retire, the land that he'd managed in south Bath would become the focus of a passionate community-led campaign. For countless generations stretching back thousands of years this hillside had been farmed; which added to the sense of its importance as everyone came together to set in motion a plan that would lead to the creation of Bath City Farm in 1995.

Green spaces in our towns and cities are so precious. They are the natural lungs that help to bring people to together and provide places for us to connect with nature. Everyone living in Southdown and Twerton, near to this 37 acres of farmland, could see that there was a real risk that the land could be developed, losing one of the green jewels in the Bath crown, forever.

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Local people organised themselves and through their passion, determination and commitment their campaign convinced the local council to buy the land, securing its future and sowing the seed that would turn this place in to a farm for everyone.

Fast forward two decades and the city farm is run by a committed team of staff and countless volunteers, helping it to become a much-loved part of city life. The farm animals, the pigs, the hens, goats and Shetland ponies, remain a key attraction for visitors, but the chance to wander across the fields, which retain their ancient names, is a big plus too.

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City farms began to pop up across the UK in the 1960s. They were a reaction to the move of people from the countryside to towns and cities. As people's lives were transformed there was a real sense that our connection with the way that the land is managed and food is produced would be lost. Our experience of buying food would potentially be limited to the supermarkets rather than experiencing first hand the sowing and growing of plants or the collecting of fresh eggs from the hens.

Bath City Farm has the feel of a small family farm. Talk to local people and this is their farm; somewhere that the community comes together for bonfire night or bring their families to feed the animals to explore the one-mile nature trail. This sense of a strong bond really does matter and is at the heart of what the farm is all about, providing a place for people to take time out and connect to the land and natural world.

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In the last twenty-one years the farm has seen many changes. Set up as a charity by local people, staff were recruited and slowly the infrastructure needed to transform the site, fell into place. The beauty of the farm is that it has people at its heart, the staff who work so hard to create the experiences that people will remember for life and helping to run projects that will transform people's lives. Volunteers help to care for the animals, create new accessible paths and tend the raised beds.

For me the Feathered Friends project is a classic example of the farms power to enrich people's lives. People from residential homes will come to spend time at the farm with the hens. They'll help to look after them and maybe collect some of the eggs. Then there is a chance to just spend time with the hens, stroking and holding them. This very tactile experience has the ability to bring a warm smile to people's faces and this group-based activity brings people together.

Spending time at places like Bath City Farm is a great excuse to take some time out. Watching the Gloucester Spot piglets enjoying a feed, walking through the Beech tree avenue in any season or seeing what is growing in the poly-tunnels, has a real calming effect. Small charities like the farm have a really importance place in the fabric of city-life and they demonstrate the ability to get things done.

There are loads of great ways to support Bath City Farm, such as the adopt-an-animal scheme. You can keep up to date with life on the farm via twitter @bathcityfarm.

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