A visit to Spitalfields City Farm

We’ve written about all the urban farms in London, but we realised that we hadn’t visited enough of them! So we headed to east London, snuck behind Shoreditch High Street station, took a left, took a right and there we were! At Spitalfields City Farm…it sounds cliché, but it really is a little oasis in the middle of chaotic east London. If you fancy a coffee and cake, or you want to say hello to some chickens and donkeys, or you’d like to volunteer, go check it out! In the meantime, here’s a little video we made about our visit. Enjoy!

Interview with The Peasant’s Joel

We were curious at the Urban Farmer. Curious about just how restaurants in the middle of an urban metropolis get fresh produce everyday, and where it comes from! To this end, we took a stroll to one of London’s favourite pubs, just down the road – The Peasant! While there, we spoke to pub manager Joel about just how an inner-city pub can provide great food, every day.

Thomas: Hello Joel, can you introduce yourself?

Joel: Sure – I’m Joel and I am the manager here at the Peasant.

Thomas: What kind of customers come to the Peasant?

Joel: Well we have a lot of offices in the area, so it’s generally a lot of people coming on their lunchbreaks. Oh, and at the end of the day – especially Fridays. This place can really fill up. But I suppose when we get to the weekend, it’s much more of a destination pub rather than somewhere you might fall into. We’re pretty well known for our Sunday Roast, so I think people often come down just for that.

Thomas: Oh lovely – what Sunday roast do you do?

Joel: Meat with the usual trimmings. Pork belly, beef, chicken, and a veggie option. And of course, giant Yorkshires.

Thomas: Do you get those meats locally?

Joel: Unfortunately not. Our meat tends to be from Yorkshire and Suffolk. It’s hard to get local meat.

Thomas: How about all the other produce?

Joel: Well all our fruit and veg is seasonal and we try to source that as locally as possible.

Thomas: Is that difficult?

Joel: Yes. It really is quite difficult to buy locally. It’s a cost issue really. As a pub, we served pretty reasonably-priced food. We’re well-priced in comparison to other places in the area. Some restaurants might chose to source their produce and meat locally and often organically, but for us to maintain our prices, that’s not so easy. Don’t get me wrong, we try to buy as close to us as possible, but sometimes it’s just not practical.

Thomas: Are there many markets nearby for you to even do that?

Joel: A couple. And it depends on the daily market prices, we might add something new to our menu. If something is affordable, we’ll get it.

Thomas: How about your beer, is that local?

Joel: We try to buy all our draught beer from within the M25. Definitely. I’d say we have at least 80% local beers.

Thomas: And finally – do you think the Peasant would benefit from more green space nearby?

Joel: I suppose, but I don’t know where they would go. It’s a shame we can’t have more green spaces in London, but the fact of the matter is, there’s no room. We could cultivate the spaces we already have, but beyond that there’s literally no room without knocking a few buildings down…

Thomas: Thanks Joel!

Joel: No problem.

Guest Blog from CSA Flower Farmer, Katy Phillips

After our trip down to Columbia Road Flower Market, I asked Katy if she would be interested in writing for Urban Farmer London- of course once settled back in the United States! Her visit to England was full of many trips to flower farms, visiting growers that have inspired her from across the ocean.  Working with local farmers and now having her own flower growing business, she had much to say on the subject we love most here- Farms and City living.  She explains more about this and her CSA membership in her post below as well as her travels here. 

Follow this link to read more about CSA Farmers like Katy here in the UK:  Community Supported Agriculture, UK

Meet Katy Phillips- Flower Farmer, US

Courtesy Katy Phillips

It is a real pleasure to be a guest blogger on The Urban Farmer London. I recently spent 10 fabulous days getting to know a small piece of England – including the yellow- flowering and rolling countryside, the enchanting coastline and the incredible city of London. It was well worth the effort of leaving my flower farm for these fabulous and rejuvenating days particularly for the chance to see a variety of beautiful gardens, including one of the leaders in the seasonal flower movement in the U.K, Green and Gorgeous.

 I am a novice flower farmer here in North Carolina. I live on some old tobacco land now farmed for pick-your-own strawberries. ¼ of an acre, a small and intimate piece of land behind my house has now become the fertile grounds through which I grow a variety of cut flowers for the farm stand and a 25 member CSA, which I have named Poesy. The farm is conveniently situated between 2 affluent university towns where there is an urban center, ideal for a flower pick up location and the occasional passerby looking for a beautiful, or sentimental gift! With one successful year under my wings, I am really looking forward to developing my existing relationships and learning as much as I can from other passionate flower growers.

Courtesy Katy Phillips

This is why my spirit leaped at the chance to visit a flower farm while visiting England! My visit did not disappoint! In fact, I was delighted to discover that Rachel Siegfried and her partner Ashley Pearson and their farm Green and Gorgeous are leading the way for flower growers across England. Their farm is located in Little Stoke, Wallingford close to the university town of Oxford. It is an enchanting little piece of paradise and their hospitality to two jet-lagged Americans was a welcome reprieve. We walked around their cottage beds, took a peek in their hoop house full of ranunculus, and explored their newly planted acreage. It was such a treat! Even their cat followed our footsteps as though giving us the tour himself.

Courtesy Katy Phillips
Hoop house with Ranunculus @ Green and Gorgeous Farm, Courtesy Katy Phillips

Green and Gorgeous grows quintessential English flowers, but also host on-farm flower farming, photography and flower design workshops as part of their farmer-florist operation in Oxfordshire. Additionally, they host ‘Farm Gate Sales’, which are a bit like a ‘pop up’ shop, or my farm stand back in the States. They are held on the farm every Saturday next to their flower fields. The adorable little packing shed is filled with buckets of beauty and customers have the pleasure of walking through their gardens and picking bouquets of choice.

Courtesy Katy Phillips
Packing Shed @ Green and Gorgeous, Courtesy Katy Phillips

There has definitely been a huge change in people’s awareness of local flowers and the number of growers around the country of England and the US is increasing. Close proximity to urban centers helps growers’ continue to boost the local flower movement and raise customer awareness to the importance of supporting a more sustainable market. I look forward to taking some of the ideas gleaned from my visit to Oxfordshire back to my own small burgeoning flower farm!


CSA Shares from Poesy Farm, Courtesy Katy Phillips
CSA Shares from Poesy Farm, Courtesy Katy Phillips

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

Let’s visualise urban farming!

We’ve thrown together a variety of our favourite urban farming words to make a refreshing way of representing our data!

The tree includes words such as honey, allotments, aquaponics and digs which have all been used on social media, in conversation with members of the public & on blogs.

Text data from using Tagul by Sandy Tabalo.
Text data from using Tagul by Sandy Tabalo.

We wanted to publicise the importance of urban farming in a fun and creative way which would make people remember certain phrases and words which relate to it.

This was proved from speaking to Sarah from Deen City Farm who explained that many people around the local area – including Wimbledon and Colliers Wood were unaware that there was an urban farm on their doorstep.

She further explained to us the importance of urban farming and her daily routine:

Enjoy, don’t forget to go urban farming and send us anymore buzzwords you can think of!

Coming soon: guest post by Forage London

Next week we will bring you a special post featuring a guest: John from Forage London.

John runs the extremely popular foraging courses around London, which are usually fully sold out weeks ahead of time. He takes people around specific London parks and shows them which plants are edible! I’ve sampled a salad made entirely of plants found on Hampstead Heath and it was delicious. Find out more about John’s courses by following Forage London on Facebook or checking out his website.

We’ll be bringing you the guest post with John next week. In the meantime, the weekend is coming, so check out our list of London food market.

Happy friday!

Southbank Centre Market

For the last five years, the Southbank Centre had been home to the Real Food Market, which has now relocated to Kings Cross. Starting April 2015, the Southbank Centre has started its own food market, which is held weekly, from Friday to Sunday. We visited this morning and feasted on delicious New Orleans-style brisket, Polish-style potatoes and coleslaw, French fries with truffle mayonnaise and freshly-squeezed juices. Yeah, we ate quite a bit.

If you are interested in selling produce at the market, you can apply to be a trader here.

We definitely recommend this market. Besides offering some delicious food, it is close to all the great attractions of the Southbank. See you there next weekend!

(Music: Sunshine City. (2010). [Purchased online] Audio Network Limited. Filming, editing, producing video: Stephanie Bosset)

£5m annual turnover for Lewisham markets!

Farmers Markets are cropping up throughout London. They are based in some of London’s trendiest areas for communities to gather together to eat and drink fresh produce.

Due to their popularity and daily presence, the Urban Farmer wanted to find out whether there were any struggles that farmers markets had and if customers are truly satisfied.

According to Friends of Earth, public authorities are not receiving enough funding to look after the running of the markets. The cost of sites has made the problem more difficult for the authorities.

Courtesy of Trading Places Report data, November 2005.
Courtesy of Trading Places Report, November 2005.
Screen Shot 2015-05-23 at 12.38.22
Courtesy of Trading Places Report, November 2005.

From the data it is clear that customers are attending farmers markets more – due to their annual turnover which on average is higher than customers who are going to retailers.

This explains the percentage of people who also shop elsewhere as the majority of farmers markets are not a daily occurrence.

Borough Market

We went to one of our favourite places in London this past weekend: Borough Market. We love it so much, we made a little video…an ode to our favourite market!

The market is open for lunch 10am-5pm on Monday and Tuesday and the full market is on from Wednesday to Saturday,  so run to London Bridge, head down the steps and eat some delicious food!

(Filming, editing, producing video: Stephanie Bosset)