During the second world war, London was the victim of persistent bombing raids. The East end is particularly affected. Stepney City Farm, a mere ten minute walk north of Limehouse DLR station, occupies once such former bombed site in Tower Hamlets.
There are a lot of things that Stepney City Farm isn't. It doesn't have nice cafeterias like Islington's Freightliners City Farm or Surrey City Farm. Neither does it have the large expanse of land that Mudchute Farm enjoys.
There was a time when Stepney City Farm is much larger. Crossrail put an end to that. In return for "leasing" its land, Crossrail gave Stepney City Farm some fencing for proper enclosures. A poor bargain if you ask me.
Without any space to set up a cafeteria, much less a full service restaurant like Mudchute's, its office building block doubles up as a lounge area offering free tea and water for visitors.
The entire area looks like it can do with a bit of work. But a volunteer staff told us that there are plans for the farm. A pond with edible water plants, sheep and pigs are brought in to be raised and slaughtered,manure from cows is sold at £4 per sack. The management is determined to get some income from every single bit of the farm. Keeping the animals alive is rather costly, she said as a matter of factly.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the biggest money churners are the eggs producing poultry. They just keep giving, the staff pointed out. You can get half a dozen of chicken eggs and duck eggs at £2 and £2.50 respectively. With their prices kept constant since last year, the eggs from Stepney City Farm are probably one of the few that remained unaffected by inflation. They're so popular that the eggs cabinet were bare when I tried getting some. Apparently, the geese are getting into the action as well, something that I'd look forward to.
Interestingly, the best kept part of the farm is an area designated for private allotment. Small raised plots of soil are kept by individuals and groups in the local community. I was told that if done properly, a plot like that can easily feed a large family. Imagine not having to visit your loal grocer for your greens ever, not to mention the satisfaction you get at the end of the day.
Perhaps when Crossrail is completed, the running of Stepney Farm will be more settled. Meanwhile, the chicken, ducks and geese would have to keep those eggs rolling.
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Friday, July 6, 2012
Stepney City Farm Tower Hamlets London - doing its bit for the local community