26% of boroughs have no animal welfare.

We have included data from The Good Food for London 2012, 2013 and 2014 report which provides specifics from local authorities about initiatives on animal welfare.

Since 2007 the Food Business Team have worked to improve London’s welfare of animals on city farms.

Data courtesy of Good For Food.
Data courtesy of Good For Food, 2013.
Data courtesy of Good for Food.
Data courtesy of Good for Food., 2014

The data identifies the improvements in animal welfare from 2012 to 2014.

We have pulled out that there has been a 60% increase in London boroughs achieving a Good Egg Award for buying cage-free eggs over the past two years.

We also learnt that Islington is the only borough in London to have achieved a Good Chicken Award and a Good Egg Award for buying higher welfare chicken and cage-free eggs between 2012 and 2014.

However a large proportion of areas in West, East and Central London have failed to improve their rating and have not achieved a Good Farm Animals Welfare Award.

These include Richmond upon Thames, Kingston upon Thames, Sutton, Kensington & Chelsea, Bromley and Greenwich.

74% of boroughs have improved their rating from not achieving a Good Farm Animal Welfare Award to achieving a Good Egg Award for buying cage-free eggs from 2013 to 2014. These are Newham, Hackney, Lewisham, Bexley and Barking & Dagenham.

This is great news for Urban Farmer London as it shows that there has been a rise in animal welfare.

We spoke to Hannah (23), Hannah (22), Natalie (22), Lorna (22), Ben (24), Denise (22), Olivia (21), Heidi (23), Judy (50+), Corneille (50+), Lauren (22), Chloe (24), Elizabeth (22), Saskia (22) and Eleanor (25) about this.

We asked them which borough they found most surprising to not have received the award in 2012 and 2013:

Screen Shot 2015-05-23 at 12.10.48
Data from speaking to members of the public by Sandy Tabalo.

35% believed that Hackney would have had an Animal Welfare Award in 2013, with Bexley coming in at a close second at 29%.

However luckily no borough has lost an award which is fantastic news, as this reflects the improvement in animal farms across the city year on year.

We look forward to analysing the 2015 results as we hope for a continued increase in animal welfare across London’s boroughs!

Remember to keep on urban farming!

Why Garden? … or wine?

“… the work it takes to make something small or large into something beautiful”

Interview with Entrepreneur/Gardener/Wine lover. 

unnamed

Meet my father-  David Brantley.

I live in London and he lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. But of the MANY things we have in common- my two favourite ones are – gardening and wine.  Oh… and we love the buzz of city life too.

At the start of our blog last fall- The Urban Farmer London- I thought about where my own desire for rural lifestyle in the city all began. It was actually quite easy to figure out.  My love of gardening, cooking, and hobby or more obsession with wine started with this crazy-busy entrepreneur who is my Dad.

Somehow in the midst of his jam-packed-schedule of business meetings, sport events, social calendars and everything else he juggles- he finds the time to stop and garden… or rather, buzzes around in it.  I grew up watching him do this and I guess it had lasting effects on my own life.

This had me curious as to what drew my urban father to his own rural lifestyle and why he still carves out the time for it in his demanding schedule.   (The picture above is taken on his visit to London last fall)

“…it’s just the simple appreciation of the beauty in it.”

I started with gardening and began with the question I never had asked him before.

‘When did it all start for you?’

He had to think back a bit, “I  believe it started back in the mid-80s.”   This would put my newly 60 year old father back in his 30s.

Inspiration

“Who inspired you?”  Though his own mother was a gardener herself, to my surprise his response was not immediately about her.

“I don’t know, I think it’s just the simple appreciation of the beauty in it.”   He contemplated a bit longer than I expected, “I think its also the work it takes to make something small or large into something beautiful.” He began to unpack the therapeutic side of it in connection with his busy lifestyle.

Therapeutic

But thinking more to the deeper reason of doing it, he returned back to the beauty. “I think it’s also the gratification of turning something into something beautiful and in a relatively short time frame.” Knowing the nature of his business- the grind and also the patience required for its long term rewards- I understood exactly what this simple aspect that the garden lifestyle gives a man like this.

Urban Gardeners

We moved onto the type of people who garden.  I was interested in his thoughts on this as I am constantly surprised of this false stereotype- that gardeners tend to be retired or just with loads of time on their hands.

So I asked him, “What type of person do you think is drawn to the garden?”

“Typically- its often not the most predictable person. Not one personality is found which makes it (gardening) even more interesting.  From the wealthy to the pragmatic or the sophisticated to the simple, the rural or the city dweller. It’s a mix.”

It’s simple. One word: work”

I followed up with another question, “So then why do you think people choose not to garden?”  This he answers without a second of reflection.

“It’s simple.  One word: Work. It’s a LOT OF WORK.”  He chuckles, taking another sip of wine.

I then go on to explain our new blog and our curiosity of the mingling of urban and rural lifestyles- in both values and practice. He began to talk about how his wine hobby that also enhances his fast-paced urban life.  A wine enthusiast but living far from any quality wine regions- he takes part in small vineyard programs in the United States that connect consumers directly to the vineyard.  His favourite being California Wine Club. He feels this is another way that he’s able to have a sense of the rural life in the city.

Wine and … gardening? 

I probed further, “Do you think wine and gardening are connected in some way?”

“The correlation between the process of making wine and gardening is very close to me.  Growing the perfect grapes is essential to making a good wine, but not everyone who appreciates wine is drawn to the soils and climate as I am. Again, its a mixture of personality types.”

Then we got into the juice of our shared and most coveted drink.

He continues- “I love the convergence of art and science in a compressed time period. The fact that each wine takes on a unique personality of its own- down to even the barrel that they are produced in- its just fascinating to me.”

“…to have a vineyard of my own.” 

As opposed to the garden, the most challenging part of this hobby is not the physical work involved.

“Finding good wine at a good price.”  He laughed again saying this may be why he spends increasing amounts of time on this hobby over his garden in his older years.  “But it’s true- with the internet and information age I believe that the wine business is constantly growing. I continue to look for better websites, blogs to broaden my knowledge and lighten my pocketbook and also educating me on the people that are doing what I HOPE to do in a few years-  have a vineyard of my own.”

We clink glasses to a shared family dream- Brantley Vineyards– or I should say the one I decided to join in on many years ago.

“Someday, somewhere Dad.”  We smile… and order another glass.

Organic Food on the Rise in the UK?

THIS VIDEO has gone viral on social media over the last several weeks.  It is a 90 second video that takes a look into what ‘going organic’ actually DOES for our bodies.

The film was based on a study by the Swedish Environmental Research Institute IVL- you can read more about it here:  https://www.coop.se/organiceffect

This prompted us to look into how the UK is doing with their organic table fare.

GOOD NEWS.

THE TREND appears to be up for sales in the organic food sector.  According to the Soil Association, the public spent £1.4m more per week on organic food in 2014 and overall sales were up by 4%. This is great news and gets even more interesting when you compare it to the fact that there was an overall drop of 1.9% in food sales in 2014. So, organic is up even when food sales are down? Hmm..

Courtesy Wikiwand

Ok- so maybe we were spending more on eating out which makes it a bit harder to know the true picture of our organic eating habits, but this still seems a victory for organic vs pesticide pumped food.  Maybe the importance of avoiding these pesticides and chemicals from our bodies is finally catching on.

BUT…there is still a ways to go towards a true upward trend in terms of going locally organic.  We decided to dig a bit deeper on how the UK organic farms and producer side of the story is doing.

NOT so good news. 

The latest UK Government figures (2013 report) show the opposite when it comes to Organic Farms in the United Kingdom. Organic farm land – including those converting to organic- is on the decline.  Together the number of organic farms is decreasing by over 28%.  And as for organic producers and processors- that number fell for the 5th year in a row.  (- 6.4%)

BETTER NEWS for urban dwellers.. 

But, for our Urban Farm London readers and fellow urbanites- we’ve got the best news to report! Though we’re not sure what the 2014 government data is just yet- 2013 showed that the urban organic numbers are actually increasing.

The South East- including London– is the ONLY PART OF THE UK that saw a rise in organic producers and processors at 0.7%. This may not be significant climb- but the stats are going up and not down. We’ll count that as a small and important victory for our organic health.  Let’s just hope these numbers keep going in the right direction.

The UK Government report for 2014 is set to be published next month. Be on the lookout as we’ll be watching and writing about it on our blog here.  Let’s hope the stats show more upswings but for now-  we applaud the growing number of urban dwellers helping lead the UK towards healthier tables!

Grow, buy and eat… MORE organic.  

Our guest post from Nigel Akehurst!

Five London based Urban Farming Stories you should know about.. 

Every week there seems to be a new urban farming project springing up. Which is great news for the growing number of locavores – people who want to source (and sometimes grow their own) organically grown local food.  It’s an exciting trend that is only going to get bigger as more people begin to think about their health and the importance of eating good quality food. Until I started Indie Farmer in 2013 I had no idea the number of urban farming projects there were in London but I’ve since been fortunate enough to visit quite a few of them and have picked out a few of my favorites below.

Image Courtesy from Indiefarmer.
Image Courtesy of the Indie Farmer.

Hot off the press – our latest urban farming story about Fortnum & Mason Roof Garden, was submitted by Aiste Saulyte a photographer and urban farmer based in London. She helped Matt Franks the founder of Connected Roots construct the roof top garden at Fortnum & Mason, whilst also photographing the build and interviewing him about the project.

Image Courtesy from Indie Farmer.
Image Courtesy of the Indie Farmer.

My second favourite urban farm in London is Connected Roots – Google Allotments. Back in x Matt invited me along to the Google Allotments in Tottenham Court Road. Being a bit of technology geek myself I jumped at the chance to find out more about Google and their roof top allotments. It turned out that one of the Google growers was even wearing Google glass – no doubt recording all the growing advice!

Image Courtesy from Indie Farmer.
Image Courtesy of the Indie Farmer.

Remember the 2012 Olympic logo? Love it or loathe it Wolff Olin Roof Top Garden were the international branding agency responsible for creating it. Based in a canal side warehouse building they created a roof top garden to grow a mixture of vegetables and herbs to be used in the staff restaurants. I met Paul Richens the architect and Head Gardner at the project to find out more.

Image Courtesy from Indie Farmer.
Image Courtesy of the Indie Farmer.

Transformed from a derelict shop on Dalston Lane into an urban farm and aquaponic’s centre – I interviewed the Something & Son team behind the project – FARM: shop Aquaponics.

Finally it is clear that Urban growing has become so popular in London that there are now trade shows dedicated to it. Grow London’s upscale designer urban gardening show, based in Hampstead Heath, launched last year to much fanfare. I went down to find out what all the fuss was about and managed to do a bit of celebrity spotting too.

Follow Nigel @nigelakehurst and the Indie Farmer @indiefarm.

Distribution of Urban Farms in London

Following our little trip to Mudchute Farm on the Isle of Dogs, we thought we’d locate some of our great capitals other urban farms. We’ll take a look at the distribution of our most loved spots – spoiler alert: South London’s been given the raw deal!…

Kentish Town City Farm

Kentish Town City Farm
Google Maps Screenshot

Situated just two stops North of London Zoo, Kentish Town City Farm can still very much be called a Central London day out. With stops on the Thameslink, the area is very well connected in an area that is rapidly gentrifying

Hackney City Farm

Hackney City Farm
Google Maps Screenshot

We glide eastwards now to the lovely area of Haggerston in Hackney. Hackney is one of London’s less affluent central London boroughs, so the protection of free days out like the one this small farm provide are essential. Again, well-connected, Hackney City Farm is surrounded by some lovely cafes and places to buy fresh London produce.

Spitalfields City Farm

Spitalfields City Farm
Google Maps Screenshot

A few blocks South of Hackney City Farm, the borough boasts a second Urban Farm – Spitalfields. This is one of London’s longest-running farms and is close to the famous Spitalfields Market

Stepney City Farm

Stepney City Farm
Google Maps Screenshot

Yet another Northern farm is the Stepney City Farm. Education is the focus of this farm, providing a learning experience to many of Tower Hamlets’ young population. Tower Hamlets is another of London’s more deprived central London boroughs, so this farm has become a pillar of the community in the area.

Mudchute Park and Farm

Mudchute Park and Farm
Google Maps Screenshot

Our old friend, Mudchute. Arguably our favorite Urban Farm here at the #UrbanFarmer. We’ve spoke about Mudchute at length, but safe to say, this farm and the surrounding park have come to be a crucial community pitstop from families on the Isle of Dogs

Surrey Docks Farm

Surrey Docks Farm London
Google Maps Screenshot

A relatively new Urban Farm in the shadow of Canary Wharf – this slightly upmarket farm (if there ever was one) offers so suitably metropolitan experiences, including yoga, a monthly farmer’s market, and even a blacksmith’s forge – all alongside some rather charming cows.

Vauxhall City Farm

Vauxhall City Farm
Google Maps Screenshot

We head South of the river!… but not too far. A short walk from the Palace of Westminster lies Vauxhall City Farm. Though this farm may be compact, and mostly dedicated to allotments, it recent won the “Commitment to the Community” award, showing just how important these endeavours are for the surrounding area.

Hounslow Urban Farm

Hounslow Urban Farm
Google Maps Screenshot

Now for the Black Sheep of the list – Hounslow! When visiting this gigantic farm, expect to hear the constant rumble of aeroplanes as it lies under the flightpath of airport behemouth, Heathrow. But this illustrates just the point we want to make here at the Urban Farmer – there’s no such thing as an unsuitable place for a farm or open space! Even next to the World’s third-biggest airport!

So what can we deduce from this list? With only two of these great days out South of the river (and even then, so central they’re not worthy of “Southern” status), it begs the question: Why does the North have it so good?!

LONDON
Creative Commons Wikipedia

There have been drives in recent years for more dynamic open spaces in Central London for the public (indeed, all these farms offer free entry), but with central North London boroughs boasting some great Urban Farms, maybe it’s time the South gets a little more TLC!

An interview with Deen City Farm.

Today the urban farmer visited Deen City Farm in South Wimbledon.

The Farm has 220 different types of animals and offers horse riding lessons for those in the City.

We spoke to Shannon to understand what she does on a daily basis, why urban farming in London is so important and her favourite farmyard animal at Deen City.

Deen City Farm has 1,789 followers on Twitter, so if you want to give them a Tweet their handle is @deencityfarm or visit their website here.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this post and plan on visiting the farm!

Urban Farmer Meets Kew Little Pigs

Our reporter, Thomas Newton, went to meet Olivia from Kew Little Pigs.
Kew Little Pigs own two farms – one in Richmond, and the other in Buckinghamshire.
The all-female team at Kew Little Pigs have been raising and exhibiting miniature pigs since owner Olivia’s daughter took a shining to the critters after seeing the classic piggy film, Babe!

Find out more about Kew Little Pigs at: http://kewlittlepigs.com/

And follow us on twitter at: https://twitter.com/urbanfarmerLDN

Expo 2015 App

Expo 2015 AppSo the Expo in Milan got off to a great start. You’ve got until October to visit, so make sure you buy some tickets! As if you needed an excuse to get away for a few days…
In the meantime, check out the recipe app available in the App Store…it’s PACKED with recipes from all over the world to keep satiated until you visit in person!