By Rafi Mauro-Benady
A hugely popular city farm for children faces permanent closure following Boris Johnson’s announcement of lockdown.
Vauxhall City Farm, based in Tyers Street, Vauxhall, which was due to reopen after Christmas, has kept its doors shut after the third national lockdown was announced. It is now appealing to the public for funding to help it stay afloat.
The farm, which includes alpacas, sheep, Polish chickens named after pop stars such as Ariana Grande and Rihanna, and a riding school, sits opposite James Bond’s stomping ground, MI6.
It closed on December 23 last year for Christmas, and was meant to reopen last week, but has had to postpone that – putting a home for residents like Trevor the Turkey at risk.
Education Partnerships manager Chris Platt, 33, said the farm has already lost 80 per cent of its income since the first lockdown in March last year, and that it’s “do or die now” for the community hub.
He said the farm, which normally has 50,000 visitors per year, traditionally generated most of its income via on-site donations, and through selling feed for the animals.
But since the capital has been in and out of lockdown, that source of revenue has mostly dried up.
He said: “We’d make a relatively good amount of money (through the sources above).
“That’s all gone, which makes a sizable loss.”
Educational events such as half-term clubs and summer schools are also a major source of money that’s evaporated.
Mr Platt said: “I’m talking tens of thousands of pounds. That was a huge loss.”
The farm now relies on donations as its main source of revenue – a GoFundMe appeal’s target £600,000, and has raised £305,000.
The money is for a farm revamp, which will cost around £125,000 – but it will only happen if the site can reopen soon.
Mr Platt said: ““This is about survival now, and that’s clear to everyone on the farm. It’s do or die – it’s that stark at the moment.
“We need to be agile and have a business-minded approach, because if we don’t, we’re done.”
The farm has also been forced to change the way it interacts with kids since the pandemic began.
It has joined forces with educational charity ‘TeamUp’, to provide an after-school programme which offers things such as free homework support to children from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Vauxhall City Farm will also be launching an incubation programme in the spring, where workers live stream the incubation of new chicken eggs.
You can donate to Vauxhall City Farm’s GoFundMe page here.
Pictured top: Chris Platt with Jenny the pig
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