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Spring At Spitalfields City Farm

May 10, 2021
by the gentle author

The second of four features in collaboration with Contributing Photographer Rachel Ferriman, documenting the seasons of the year at Spitalfields City Farm

This was the spring we waited too long for, the spring that came late, the spring that teased us with bouts of warm weather in March and then frosts in May. Yet at last, this spring that we all been yearning for has indubitably arrived.

With the lifting of restrictions, Spitalfields City Farm is reopening to visitors, resulting in long lines down Buxton St of east enders seeking solace, young and old waiting in eagerness to reacquaint themselves with Nature.

It was my pleasure to be greeted at the farm gate by development manager Jamie Morrish who kindly took me on a ramble around the precincts. With his worn tweed jacket and white beard, he looks the very picture of a rural retainer yet he revealed he is fascinated by the urban cobbled roads traversing the site, remnants of the streets that once stood where now are fields. ‘They tell a story of what used to be,’ he explained, ‘and I think that’s important.’

Already the vegetable patch at the farm is full of life, with lines of Swiss Chard flourishing, and potatoes, beetroot, onions and broad beans on the way. ‘As an experiment we are trying out a variety of different vegetables to see which things work,’ Jamie explained proudly. ‘It’s a bit of fun because when you see all these coloured leaves, it’s really attractive. We’re going to have an amazing array this year and we’re going to be producing salad boxes for local people.’

I was very impressed by the way rainwater is collected on the roof of a shed and drains along the gutters to pipes which run underneath the vegetable patch, automatically watering the plants. Jamie led me into a polytunnel where shiny green lettuces flourished in the humid moist atmosphere. Outside, the crab apples were heavy with pink blossom and, despite the late frosts, a plum tree had already developed hundreds tiny green fruit covering the branches. ‘It’s going to be good year for fruit,’ Jamie exclaimed in delight. ‘We’re in a warm pocket here.’

‘We’re going to plant a long border for bees and birds,’ he continued introducing a new idea and showing me a rectangle of bare soil. ‘We focus a lot on production for humans to eat and now we are going to pay attention to the needs of bees and birds. This is going to be a perennial bed and will take a few years to mature.’

A loud chorus of birdsong accompanied our ramble, interrupted only by the trains of the East End London line passing close by on their journey between Whitechapel and Shoreditch High St.

Jamie introduced me to a pair of handsome Buff Orpington chicks only a few weeks old. ‘One was born with splayed legs, so we splinted his legs together,’ Jamie admitted protectively. ‘When he hatched, he couldn’t balance, he kept tipping over and falling on his back, but Emma took care of him by bandaging his legs and, now his legs have straightened, he’s fine. He’s grown quite big.’

Thus I present my evidence to you, should you require it, that – after a few stumbles – spring has truly arrived in Spitalfields.

Crab apple in flower

Beatrix lost her right ear but survived a dog attack as a lamb in Surrey six years ago

Sarah, one of the volunteers

Buff Orpington chicks at five days old

One of the Buff Orpington chicks, around two weeks old

Patricia watering

Tess with freshly harvested Chard leaves

Tanya & Tess in the potting shed

Bella, the farm cat, dozes in the warmth of a polytunnel

Holmes, the kune kune pig, emerges for spring

Photographs copyright © Rachel Ferriman

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Winter At Spitalfields City Farm

7 Responses leave one →
  1. May 10, 2021

    What a beautiful place right in the center of Spitalfields. You can see it in the animals, how comfortable they feel.

    I also live on the outskirts of the city, but very rural: we have our farmer and a farm store next door. I am very happy to have such an environment!

    Love & Peace

  2. Peter permalink
    May 10, 2021

    I love the pic of the smiling goat!

  3. May 10, 2021

    Fascinating to see how the increasing trend towards urbanization has been reversed with the creation of the farm. Who would have expected to find such lovely spots as the farm and St. Bride’s churchyard in the heart of East London? Give Holmes the pig a scratch behind the ears for me!


  4. Mary permalink
    May 10, 2021

    Thank you to GA and Rachel for such a positive, up-lifting blog this morning. The animals looking so healthy and happy is testament to the very hard work of the staff and volunteers during such difficult times. It must have come as a great relief that the farm can now open to visitors and earn some revenue, and clearly the visitors are very happy to be back. Warm wishes to all.

  5. May 10, 2021

    It’s a joy to see these photos. The animals look happy and well-nourished. If I’m ever in London again….. Thanks for this posting.

  6. May 10, 2021

    Hi, I’m the photographer for this story – thanks everyone for the kind comments.
    Community Farms are so wonderful! Seeing the kids interacting with the animals, and lockdown babies seeing their first goat or sheep was pretty special!
    Everyone seems to benefit from a breath of nature and fresh air in the City.
    Spitalfields Farm is a really special place. Definitely go and check out their website!

  7. Pamela Traves permalink
    May 11, 2021

    What Lovely Pictures of the Animals and their Happy Home!! Thank You Very Much!!?????????

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