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Autumn At Spitalfields City Farm

November 25, 2021
by the gentle author

Click here to order your Spitalfields City Farm Calendar for £10 with Rachel Ferriman’s photographs from these features

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

Autumn has been extended and mild this year, with a succession of sunny days lasting until the end of November. On such a day, Emma Poole, who has been working with the animals at the farm for seven years, led me on a personal tour around Spitalfields City Farm.

We began our stroll by paying a visit to Holmes, whose arrival as a piglet I recorded in the early days of Spitalfields Life. He has reached the grand old age of eleven now. ‘Holmes loves the autumn because he eats all the crab apples and forages through the leaves,’ Emma explained, ‘At night, we give him straw to keep warm and, since his brother, Watson, died in June, we will throw in a sleeping bag for him to bury himself underneath when it gets really cold.’

‘I prefer working with animals because they are so understanding,’ Emma admitted to me. ‘If you have had a bad day, an animal will never judge you. They are quick to forgive too. Even if we have to inflict pain for a medical reason, they will always forgive you and never hold a grudge. When I feel low, if I spend five minutes with a sheep or a donkey, it lifts my spirits..’

‘I love hosting school visits to the animals, especially for children who are new to them. If I had to sum up what the farm is for, I would say it is for education. Kids that struggle in a school environment thrive here. Everyone that comes here learns something. Many people do not realise where eggs come from.’

‘I could stand and watch the sheep all day, they are my favourite,’ Emma confided, ‘farmers will say that time spent staring at your animals is never wasted because when you know each one intimately and you can assess their well-being and health by their behaviour. Autumn is a good time for this.’

‘We are busy with maintenance now,’ Emma continued as we walked on, ‘this is when we mend the sheds and prune the fruit trees.’

‘After the harvest, we plant overwintering vegetables – kale, cabbage, sprouts and onions – or clear the land to lie fallow until spring. We spread manure and let all the home-grown nutrients go back into the soil. It’s our way of giving back and saying thank you to the garden for what it gave us this year. We have created a cycle without any chemical fertilisers and hopefully our good work will bear fruit next year.’

Harvest at the farm


Tanya measuring the sunflowers

Galena harvesting lettuce

Sam harvesting Jerusalem Artichokes

Simone who runs the Tea Hut with cosmos

George harvesting and trimming sweetcorn


Produce at the farm shop

Ella with the stained glass panels she made


Th last cosmos of the year

Frank sweeping the autumn leaves

Gold Sebright hens

Donkey riding

‘Holmes loves the autumn because he eats all the crab apples’


“There is poetry in the unexpected presence of agriculture in the city and it always makes my heart leap to hear animal cries in this urban setting, connecting me to the rural landscape beyond and reminding us of the fields that were here before the streets were built up. Despite the tower blocks visible through the greenery at Spitalfields City Farm, it is nature that prevails here.”

The Gentle Author


The first Spitalfields Life calendar is produced in support of our beloved Spitalfields City Farm and features Rachel Ferriman‘s splendid photographs from her features published in these pages.

This handsome wall calendar is a collaboration between our friends Newmans Stationers who have done the printing, Baddeley Brothers who have donated handmade envelopes and Gardners Bags who have donated paper bags.
















Photographs copyright © Rachel Ferriman

Retailers can order wholesale copies direct from 

You may also like to take a look at 

Winter At Spitalfields City Farm

Spring At Spitalfields City Farm

Summer at Spitalfields City Farm

5 Responses leave one →
  1. Alicia permalink
    November 25, 2021

    Thanks – that first picture of the chicken was glorious!

  2. Kaaren Slawson permalink
    November 25, 2021

    The calendar arrived some days ago. It is lovely and it will be cheering and useful. I will treasure the handmade envelope. Thank you.

  3. Saba permalink
    November 25, 2021

    The animal pens are all so clean and, with the piles of straw, even comfy looking.

  4. November 25, 2021

    A magnificently peaceful place for human beings and nature. Have a good time Spitalfields City Farm!

    Love & Peace

  5. November 29, 2021

    A heartwarming post of a great community

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