The East End of London was once farmland where cows were kept to provide fresh milk for those who dwelled in the city. Then over the centuries industries and houses sprung up all around – and agriculture along with the farm animals disappeared.
Now all that remains are some parks and gardens which although lovely and essential in the built environment they cannot be described as countryside.
But here, so close to the centre of the London, a farm was established on what had been derelict land. And now it is flourishing with authentic rural life.
Visit Stepney City Farm and you see an old donkey watching as life goes on in the farm yard – just as it would have done all those years ago. Pigs root around, snorting with contentment and hens peck at the ground along with ducks and geese. Sheep and goats roam about on the grass behind the wooden fences and cheerful young farmers in wellington boots carry big buckets of water.
This is a working farm where people come to escape from urban life and visit – and may also join in with the activities – volunteering to help out or learning rural crafts such as woodwork and pottery.
Stepney City Farm is a mixed farm. This means that it keeps livestock and cultivates crops.
Its produce is sold to local people who buy the meat that is reared here as well as fruit and vegetables grown on the farm.
Local people are also encouraged to come here to grow their own fruit and vegetables in plots that are allocated to those living around here.
For them to be able to escape from modern life and the urban environment that is the East End and enter into this pastoral scene, even for a little while, is so very much valued.
Walk from Mile End Park or Stepney Green Station or Limehouse Station