What is urban farming?

We asked nine people about urban farming.

We spoke to:
Ben (24) who has been to a number of urban farms.
Lauren (22) who is intrigued about urban farming.
Ross (23) who recently became aware about urban farming.
Judy (50+) who has been to several urban farms and recognises the community importance of them.
Hannah (23) who is unsure about what urban farming is but thinks that there is equality amongst male and female workers.
Lorna (22) who needs a better understanding about urban farming.
Heidi (22) who has never been to an urban farm and is unsure about what it is.
Chloe (24) who believes there are more men than women who work in urban farming.
Saskia (22) who does not know what an urban farm is.

We put the information we received into an infogram.

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Follow us @urbanfarmerLDN for more updates and please contact us if you have any comments about the data we compiled!

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:

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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!

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?!

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!

A week on social media.

It has been another busy week on Twitter for Urban Farming.

An Urban Farming group have tweeted about bee farming being accepted by Edmonton Council.

There have also been a variety of discussions amongst users about the design of future micro parks in London.

Farm the City London have expressed their delight about the new design for the Sensory Garden in the City.

We love that everyone is still on the Urban Farming hype!

If you like what we’ve put together, follow the Twitter accounts of the ones we have mentioned to learn about what they plan on doing about urban farming in London and their thoughts about it in the City.

Check out our twitter @urbanfarmerLDN for more tweets about urban farming!

How to make ZipGrow towers work…

Today the Urban Farmer went to visit GrowUp London’s Urban Farm in association with Roof East.

Situated on top of Stratford Shopping Centre’s car park, this open space enables members of the public to visit the hydroponic and aquaponic urban farm from 10am to 2pm to see how this method of urban farming works.

We spoke to Acquaponic Technician Oscar Davidson to find out how new Agrotech helps to grow aquaponics and hydroponics and the simplicity of a product that is beneficial for their urban farming methods.

GrowUp London’s Oscar Davidson told the Urban farmer

Watch this video demonstration to find out more…

Allotments, markets and farms: the definitive list

Alight, this is it, we’re going to give you the definitive list of what websites to check out for all your food growing needs. We’ll update it as we find new resources, so make sure to bookmark this page!

Allotment Information

Getting an allotment is tough and usually depends on what borough you live in. Most council websites will have information on allotments and they should be your first port of call, so you can put yourself on a waiting list or bag an available one straightaway.

  • This handy page from the government website allows you to check how best to apply for an allotment in your area.
  • The National Allotment Society – general information on allotments as well as a pretty comprehensive section on how to care for your allotment and other valuable advice on growing produce
  • This page collects all Guardian articles referring to allotments, which includes news, guides, photos and more.
  • Allotment & Gardens is another useful website with a ton of resources to help you manage your allotment.

Beekeepers and Honey

There are plenty of rooftops in London, which means there are plenty of places to keep hives! Whether you’re just curious about this hobby, or you’re looking to start keeping bees, check out these handy sites first.

  • The London Beekeepers’ Association provides “education and advice, promoting responsible bee keeping and raising awareness of the issues affecting bees”. Your first port of call for all your urban beekeeping needs.
  • Similar to the LBKA, the Urban Bees website offers general information on beekeeping in London, from courses to maps, books to honey.
  • The London Honey Company sells honey form the hives they manage in central London and beyond.
  • The North London Beekeepers is a growing network and a great place to start if you need advice or want to chat to likeminded honey-lovers.
  • Capital Bee is based in South East London and sells honey as well as running courses on beekeeping. They also sell bee colonies.
  • The Golden Company makes honey, among other things. It’s a social enterprise, meaning it specifically works towards doing something that gives back to the community. In their own words: “we work with young people to improve wellbeing and employability through engagement with nature and enterprise”. You can also find them at Borough Market every Saturday.

London Markets

There’s nothing better than heading off to a market on a Saturday morning to get some nice vegetables and something delicious for breakfast. There are so many markets in London that there is sure to be one close to you. Here are our favourites:

  • Borough Market has been going for at least 1000 years and has been in that specific spot in London Bridge since 1756. The full market is open from Wednesday-Saturday. It’s also open for lunch on Mondays and Tuesdays, from 10am-5pm (no traders, just cooked food stalls for a yummy lunch).
  • Blackheath Farmers Market is on every Sunday from 10am-2pm, in the station car park. It’s great if you want to stock up on free range eggs and organic vegetables from local farmers.
  • Lewisham holds a number of farmers’ markets in different locations and on rotation, so check their Facebook page to see where the next one will be held.
  • Brockley Market, which is actually held in South Lewisham College, is on every Saturday, 10am-2pm. If you fancy a gluten-free French crêpe while you stock up on your organic purple kale, this is the place to go!
  • If you fancy a market where you have to constantly negotiate hipsters and their fixie bikes, then head on down to Broadway Market, which is on every Saturday from 9am-5pm. Have a Vietnamese coffee and some delicious olives, or if it all gets too much, grab a cocktail from Off Broadway.
  • Bermondsey is increasingly up and coming and has had its own Farmers Market for a few years now. Head to Bermondsey Square on Saturdays, 10am-2pm.
  • The Southbank Centre is now hosting its very own market from April 2015. It had previously been home to the The Real Food Market, which has not relocated to Kings Cross.

To find other markets in London, check out London Farmers’ Markets map or Time Out’s review of the best markets in the capital.

London Farms

London might be a crammed capital, but thankfully there is always space for a spot of urban farming. These farms sell their produce and some even serve breakfast, so be sure to check them out!

  • On your way to Broadway Market, stop by Hackney City Farm and say hello to its many animals. They also offer school visits, volunteering opportunities and pottery classes. They’re open Tuesday-Sunday, 10am-4:30pm.
  • Head to Vauxhall City Farm if you fancy watching Fred, Barney, Betty and Wilma, the farm’s resident goats, jump around and be generally cute and cheeky. They’ve even got horses! Visit the farm Wednesday to Sunday, 10:30am-4pm.
  • Lee Valley Park Farm has got animals, food and lots of attractions for kids…and you can even hitch a ride on a tractor!
  • Spitalfields City Farm is open from Tuesday to Sunday, 10am to 4pm…and the perfect spot to get away from it all during your lunch break.
  • Kentish Town City Farm has got loads of activities on for children, both during term time and school holidays.
  • Hounslow Urban Farm also caters to children’s activities, including themed events like sleigh rides at Christmas and “Spooky Animal Encounters” at Halloween!
  • Surrey Docks Farm offers activities for children, but also workshops for adults, such as a course on making jams and chutneys, courses on pruning and growing fruit and more. Check out their courses here.
  • Stepney City Farm hosts a farmers’ market on Saturdays and brunch on Sundays, but you can visit the farm from Tuesday to Sunday, 9:30am-4pm.

Organised Foraging Walks

Believe it or not, you can go for a walk through Hampstead Heath and come back with a basket full of food you’ve picked! But it’s best to know what exactly you can pick. These walks are a great way to learn which bits of London’s flora can be picked and safely eaten:

  • Forage London organise walks in different parks around London, but their courses fill up fast, so be sure to sign up early. Courses cost between £30-£35.
  • Forage Wild Food also run similar courses. Check their listings here.
  • This site has some useful resources on what foods are safe to eat.
  • If mushrooms are your thing, then check out Fungi’s workshops and resources.

London might be busy, noisy and polluted, but thankfully it also offers a lot for nature and food lovers!