Loughborough Farm is a community food growing project in Loughborough Junction in south London. We bring local people together through growing, eating, DIY and community events. Set up in 2013 by local charity Loughborough Junction Action Group we aim to empower the community to create a greener, healthier, more resilient neighbourhood.
This winter Loughborough Farm will run health and wellbeing activities and nurture wellbeing through gardening and eating well.
We will run workshops and share information to help local people maintain their physical and emotional wellbeing during the hard winter months and beyond. We will grow food for local people involving our Farm volunteers - benefiting their wellbeing and those of the wider community.
WHAT WE ARE RAISING MONEY FOR:
1. Building on the success of our summer workshops, we will run free workshops focussing on healthy eating and nutrition, supporting wellbeing and mental health through connection to nature, creativity and each other. These will be run both in person (when possible) and online. We will ask for ideas from local residents, but our ideas include:
- Health & nutrition - healthy cooking, supplying ingredient packs & recipes, fermentation for gut health.
- Nature walks, meditation and grief walks in local parks.
- Laughter yoga, African drumming, poetry, DIY and wood carving.
2. We will grow healthy vegetables for the local community and nurture health and wellbeing through gardening. Our Farm volunteers tell us how much coming to the Farm has benefited their wellbeing and sense of connection over the years and local estate residents were delighted with the tomato & herb plants we delivered this summer.
- The winter vegetables and salads will continue to provide Farm volunteers with a weekly harvest bag and surplus will go towards The Platform Cafe meals including some free meals to those in need.
- Our Farm growing sessions will support volunteer wellbeing - we need to run these more frequently in smaller groups. The more money we raise the more sessions we can run - many people have enquired about volunteering with us, but sadly we’ve not yet had the capacity to take on new volunteers.
- Distribute edible plants to Loughborough Estate residents to grow on their balconies next year.
- Continue remote support to those volunteers who cannot attend in person.
How the pandemic has affected the Farm?
We had to stop our group growing sessions at the beginning of lockdown. We kept the farm alive during lockdown growing salad and vegetables thanks to a few of our dedicated grow leaders. We harvested for volunteers who couldn't attend and produce went to our sister project The Platform Cafe - making healthy lunches for local people and free meals for those in need. Between January and July we harvested 51.5 Kg of vegetables - the equivalent to 644 meals. We delivered 100 herb and tomato plants to our Loughborough Estate neighbours. We started running our group growing sessions again with former volunteers in the past couple of months after receiving funding that ends in October.
Our Wish You Were Here (WYWH) project continued its mission to ensure social inclusion … keeping in touch with volunteers who couldn't come to the Farm. This included those who are self-isolating and facing mental health and immigration issues. We kept in touch through phone calls, texts and emails. We reinvented our most treasured Farm Tea Break taking it on-line over Zoom allowing our more isolated volunteers to connect and stay involved take part in a weekly conversation.
How do people benefit from the Farm and its outreach?
This summer’s workshop participants:
“Laughing was fantastic and hearing others laughing.”“Every week a workshop out in the big wide open.”“ I would do more sessions; very therapeutic (smiley face)”“Sitting in nature, hands on activity, good company, creative, relaxing.""What a lovely community feeling from everyone included. Makes you feel good in a big city." "I was astonished to learn how simple this process is (making sauerkraut). I am 70+ was delighted to discover a whole new area."
Recipients of tomato and herb plants:
"You've really made his day" said one mum as her son rushed to show his family his new tomato plant. "Thanks for the wonderful plants" "I've never grown anything of my own before"
Quotes from Farm Volunteers
‘I love coming here, it is my weekly therapy and dose of fresh air - whatever the weather. It is also great to meet my neighbours and get to know them.’
‘Generally the chance to be me and not have to do any masking’
‘I enjoy to come regularly to improve my experience, to meet people from different country and culture, to learn more about different food growing’
Our volunteer with Tourette's syndrome says she really misses the farm teabreaks, as she can't do zoom, WYWH have been calling her every week. She loves that she found the farm, a safe space to be with nature, feel valued tending the crops and “putting my hands in the earth and that people care about me… ”
History of the Loughborough Farm
The Loughborough Farm opened in August 2013 on a piece of land which had lain derelict for 25 years. The Loughborough Junction Action Group (LJAG) only had temporary permission from the owners Lambeth council to occupy the site, so in those early days we took the decision to grow in 100 large builders bags of top soil donated by Barratt Homes who arranged the delivery over two days in two long low loaders.
The Loughborough Farm opened on a glorious summer Saturday at the end of August with a handful of dedicated volunteers some of whom are still with us today and, because we had no water on site, a fire engine from Brixton Fire Station came and watered our first seedlings. See the video here
The rest is now history. Over those seven years we have engaged with over 600 volunteers who have contributed 12,850 volunteer hours, worth more than £138,000 at the London Living Wage of £10.75 an hour; we now have a permanent home as part of LJ Works, an affordable workspace project, which now shares the site; and we have a history of not only introducing the neighbourhood to food growing and healthy eating but of holding inspirational events, everything from pizza parties to music events to harvest suppers to traditional wassails.
Click here for a video from our first couple of years
More about LJ Works here
Big Thanks to all of our Farm Volunteers who have helped make all of this happen.
Thanks to our Crowdfunder Film Makers
- Editing: Fan Sissoko www.whatfandoes.com twitter: @whatfandoes)
- Camera: Tal Amiran www.talamiran.com twitter: @TalAmiran) and
Chris Hellwig www.chrisjenahellwig.myportfolio.com
- Film Coordination from our Farm volunteer Ophelia Gisquet www.upcircle.co.uk
Thanks to Formidable Vegetable for use of their music - check out their tunes about veg growing, community and permaculture at http://music.formidablevegetable.com.au