If you’ve ever walked through Hackney and stumbled upon a stable with a donkey or two, some sheep, maybe a gaggle of geese, you were probably slightly befuddled. Hackney City Farm is nestled right into the urban environment. In the 1980s, a small patch of land which was once used as manufacturing and factory space was transformed into a farm for the people. Officially leased for 100 years as the Hackney City Farm, this site is a place for appreciating nature, learning and playing.
This piece of land was originally funded by grants, but as the city budget was reformed in the early ‘90s, the amount of money allocated to the project was shrunk. Under this pressure, normally problems would arise or they would have to begin charging for admission, but thanks to private donations they overcame them. The admission is still free. The animals are still happy. There are still people maintaining the farm. By the initiative of the community, the farm is still functioning in the same manner.
Hackney and nature seem to go together quite well. Between this urban farm and the nearby London Fields park, nature is strongly integrated into Hackney’s sense of place. Only a few steps away from busy Hackney Road, you can walk in on a donkey eating his lunch. It’s quite comforting. While you’re not allowed to touch the animals, they are all quite friendly and love the people that come up to see them.
A large, loving pig sits right at the center of the action, while three goats bask in the cloudy English weather just across the walking path. Some animals are kept in their own quarters, while others mingle and share space, (although from observation, even those tend to keep to themselves).
The mission of the Hackney City Farm is both noble and impressive. Initially inspired by locals wanting a place to grow produce and raise animals, the operation soon grew. Hackney City Farm’s mission is to give everyone an opportunity to experience farm life. They aim to educate guests about issues facing the environment and encourage them to make an effort to mitigate them.
The farm is often filled with school children. The staff have set up an experience that teaches the children about animals, hard work, and the environment. Schools can come on class field trips, or families can visit on their own. Kids are free to roam around and meet the animals.
Some of the upcoming projects to look forward to at Hackney City Farm include a beekeeping initiative, straw bale building workshop, and an intergenerational project where kids will work with elders to create something. The aim of this project is to promote cooperation and understanding across generations. The farm holds different projects year round, all community oriented and open to the public.
Hackney City Farm is open Tuesday through Sunday all year round. They’ll even open on Monday bank holidays to entertain kids off from school.
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