Nestled on land adjacent to the mainline railway tracks in the heart of Kentish Town is the UK’s longest-established city farm, Kentish Town City Farm (KTCF).
Founded in 1972, KTCF is a community charity that helps city dwellers to connect with the environment, animals and nature. The farm was established by community arts organisation Inter-Action, which was managed by a co-operative of artists and community workers and ran arts projects and initiatives in schools, youth clubs, community centres, hospitals and on the streets of Camden in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The group transformed an old bungalow and wasteland rented from Camden Council to provide a community farm and riding school.
Kentish Town City Farm operates from a four-acre site, surrounded by densely crowded estates and bordering two of the most disadvantaged council wards in England. Its extensive land holding includes animal pasture areas, community gardens, a wildlife pond and a riding arena. Among the animals its staff and volunteers care for are donkeys, pigs, a cow, horses, goats and ducks.
Rachel Schwarz, director at Kentish Town City Farm, said: “City Farms provide unique opportunities for disadvantaged people in some of the poorest inner-city areas in the UK to take part in healthy and educational activities. We support people within these communities to help each other, increasing their self-confidence and resilience.”
The City Farm provides educational programmes to local schools, work experience opportunities for young people, riding sessions for people with special needs, and farm-related activities for local children and families. Its work is supported by the London Borough of Camden and the City of London Corporation’s charity City Bridge Trust, as well as donations from the local community. Volunteers from the area support the charity’s staff with the day-to-day running of the farm, including helping to care for the farm’s animals and running horticultural, agricultural and community projects for their fellow residents and visitors to enjoy.
The buildings that the farm’s office team works from are rented from the borough council, whilst its landholding is leased from The Arch Company. Thanks to the help that both landlords offer, the farm is able to operate an open access policy. It doesn’t charge a gate fee, so the activities it offers are fully accessible and inclusive for all local people, young or old. In addition to its educational programmes and community activities, the team at the City Farm also helped found Social Farms & Gardens, a UK-wide charity that supports communities to farm, garden and grow their own sustainable produce together.
For more information about Kentish Town City Farm, who are based at 1 Cressfield Close,
off Grafton Road, visit ktcityfarm.org.uk/. Follow them on Facebook or Twitter @kcityfarm