Covid lockdowns could not shut down this London urban farm

Sponsored alpaca-walking and other local events help Vauxhall City Farm survive in deprived area

One of London’s multitude of small but vital charities that operate in one of the city’s poorest areas is looking forward to beating the pandemic and reopening.

Vauxhall City Farm has been saved by a mix of outstanding fundraising, including sponsored alpaca walks and weekly volunteer feed donations.

One supporter raised £7,500 ($10,576) doing a stepathon on his doorstep while other neighbours volunteered to look after the animals as locals rallied round the threatened speck of green in the city centre.

Now, after a year of lockdown uncertainty, the farm is looking to reopen its doors on April 15, expand its horse-riding classes and buy more animals.

The farm’s chief executive, Monica Tyler, told The National how the farm had beaten the odds.

Vauxhall City Farm in London will reopen in April after people living nearby rallied to raise money to save it. Vauxhall City Farm
Vauxhall City Farm in London will reopen in April after people living nearby rallied to raise money to save it. Vauxhall City Farm

“It’s been something amazing and magical to see this community come together over the past 12 months to support us,” she said.

“We actually didn’t know how we were going to survive, but the generosity of people has been fabulous. It’s been a fabulous show of community spirit.”

The farm has about 100 animals and usually about 50,000 visitors a year.

Last year, the pandemic and associated lockdown orders meant it lost 80 per cent of its revenue streams.

A GoFundMe page also helped raise almost £400,000 of a £600,000 target.

“There’s a range of facilities and issues that the community are grappling with, like childhood obesity and no outdoor space,” Ms Tyler said.

“The farm is a lifeline to them. It’s an important space, one of London’s hidden treasures.”

Now the farm is planning its reopening, she is also expanding horse-riding classes to give the local children, who normally would not be able to afford the sport, the opportunity to get in the saddle.

Updated: February 24, 2021 10:08 PM

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