Hackney City Farm is one of the most precious parts of London and it’s also Ourmala’s home (more below). Please support this important crowd funding campaign to keep the farm open for free and help care for the animals. We have until 14th September to raise £20,000. Why now? A grant has come to the end, Hackney’s one of the most deprived areas of the UK, it’s essential access is free and the animals live on. Watch the video here.
Hackney has 40% child poverty according to the Trust for London. For children living in appalling conditions, who have no idea their frozen sausages come from an animal, meeting a pig for the first time and playing-learning in the beautiful garden can be life changing. They love meeting the donkeys, Larry and Clover, the lambs in the spring and the other animals, from goats and fat waddling geese to the softest of rabbits.
Hackney City Farm is one of my favourite places in the world and I have travelled a lot. Obviously this is subjective but here are some other facts: the people working here are of the Amazing type. Open-hearted, dedicated, kind, highly intelligent, unpretentious, funny. They make great cups of tea.
The farm receives 75,000 visitors a year, 4,000 of whom are children. They are people from every part of society, from our neighbours in the estates and overseas visitors to celebrities and politicians. Not to mention the refugee and asylum-seeking women Ourmala serves, who find peace and safety here. Many are from rural background and tears are not uncommon when they first see the garden and animals because it reminds them of home, from which they miss dearly.
Everyone is welcome at the farm and there’s no hidden agenda. When seeds are planted, they tend to thrive, from beetroots to Ourmala’s Hackney Yoga Project. Contrast this with the unrelenting concrete, poverty and aggression, which its the reality for many of the local children and adults living in Hackney and further afield. For me, the farm embodies: where there is life, there is hope… and just look at what life does have to offer!
For Ourmala, the farm is actually our home and our roots are firmly planted in Hackney soil. In 2011, they gave me their straw bale room for free so I could try out putting on free weekly Yoga classes for vulnerable refugee and asylum-seeking women. They connected me with a volunteer, Anna Luxton, who helped set it all up and Charlie Sayle, volunteer and education manager at the farm, who is a diamond. They gave us money from a Big Lottery grant so we could refund the cost of the women’s travel, without which most would not have been able to attend.
Today Ourmala is a registered charity, works in different locations across London and has helped nearly 200 women. Our office is the converted shipping container overlooking the farm’s pig-pen and the great swathes of trees that turn into Haggerston Park. All along, the farm has provided this incredible space where Ourmala has been able to grow securely. Chris Pounds, the farm director, has provided no end of practical advice about running, developing and funding Hackney Yoga Project/Ourmala who is also a diamond (understatement).
I’m not on commission. It’s just that I remember the first time I came to the farm. It was a hard time in my life and my overriding memory is of hope when I walked through Hackney City Farm’s gates; that everything might just be all right after all.
Whatever the day, the nature and animals on the farm, not to mention the people, provide a different and grounded perspectives.
Please support Hackney City Farm through this important crowd funding campaign and come and visit!