The minister took a trip out to Hackney to see how the farm and others like it enable young people who live in built up urban areas to get a taste of farming skills.
The farm - a not for profit social enterprise - is in a very urban area just outside the historic City of London.
In the farm’s award winning cafe the minister met some of Hackney’s young residents who have learnt farming skills and an awareness of ‘countryside’ matters. He also met Hackney City Farm manager Chris Pounds and chief executive of the Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens Jeremy Iles, who explained how the work of the city farm contributes to the government’s ‘Big Society’ agenda.
Watch a video about Andrew Stunell’s visit to Hackney Farm
Communities Minister Andrew Stunell said:
“Hackney City Farm shows what communities can achieve when they are given the freedom to get involved. It fits well with the government’s Big Society agenda.
“I am pleased to see that Hackney City Farm both supports and is supported by its local community. The farm gives 50,000 visitors a year, its volunteers, children and young people, the opportunity to see and take part in activities that are not part of every day urban life - and it’s fun too.
“The coalition government is keen to see the continued greening of our urban areas. That is why we have given more powers to local authorities to decide what is right for their area with regard to ‘garden grabbing’ planning applications. We are committed to maintaining the green belt, Sites of Special Interest and creating a new designation to protect green areas of particular importance to local communities.”
Hackney City Farm Manager Chris Pounds said:
“Over the past 20 years we have seen the benefit our city farm brings to the community. From food education to bringing people together, city farms in urban areas around the country are important resources in their communities. We have been very pleased to show the minister around our exciting project.”
Nepthali Williams, aged 17, who has been volunteering at the farm for 5 years said:
“Hackney City Farm has helped me build my confidence, not only to work with animals, but to speak to the farm’s many visitors. My ambition is to be a farmer or open my own city farm. The farm is very community based. It is about widening people’s understanding and that is why it is run; I’m glad to be part of it.”
Jack Coppendale, aged 20, farm volunteer said:
“Hackney City Farm has helped me gain experience to further my education and has given me an ambition to become a farmer. I have been here a year now and every day there is something different to do and learn. You gain confidence in working with the public and you can give your knowledge back to the community.”
Kerry Wotton, aged 19, undertaking work experience at the farm said.
“The city farm helps the local community, especially young kids, to learn where their food really comes from; to appreciate the work that goes into growing food and rearing animals. It’s not just from the supermarket!”
To find out if there’s a city farm near you, visit the Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens website
Photographs of the visit are available from the DCLG Flickr channel