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Farm Newsletter - November 2016

Welcome to your November update from the Farm! The winter finally set in this month, we had our first frosty mornings and the duck pond froze over.

We were delighted to win the public vote for a Blue Plaque. A big thanks to all who supported us and to our volunteers who led the campaign. We look forward to installing the plaque in the new year.

Tomorrow is our annual Christmas Fair. Join us from 11am-4pm to choose your Christmas tree; meet Father Christmas; join our wreath making workshop; and snack on roast chestnuts or sip some mulled wine while you take part in our fun festive activities!

We continue to run monthly 'Elders Events', partnering with different organisations who come for a visit and meet all our livestock. In November we welcomed the Potted History group from London Wildlife Trust's 'Centre for Wildlife Gardening' in Peckham.

We were very sad to hear that Daphne Ferrigan passed away. Daphne was the Education Worker at the Farm from 1983-2003 and played a huge role in the Farm and many local people's lives. 


Our Livestock Manager Claire is currently recovering from back surgery and we are missing her here at the Farm. It's been a busy month for Brandon our Livestock Apprentice who has stepped up to ensure the livestock are cared for and volunteers supported during the week!

We've started working with students from Bacon's College who are here for a 6 week placement to learn about our livestock. The students are getting stuck in mucking out and giving animal health checks. They will finish by gaining an AQA accredited module in animal care.

We took the mobile farm to Peckham Square to support the Mayor of Southwark's 'Duckathon'. Big thanks to those of you who swam and fundraised for us!


This month several primary schools have visited the Farm. Students have enjoyed learning about our farm animals, making apple juice from scratch, turning wheat into flour and taking part in bee keeping workshops.

Honey Bee nursery class, from Gainsborough primary school, came to visit us on their first ever school trip! They visited the bee hives in our orchard, learnt to do the bee 'waggle dance' and made candles from bees wax. They also did a taste comparison between honey bought from the supermarket and the honey made by our farm bees. Everybody agreed that the Farm honey was the winner!

Both Reception classes from Grange Primary school enjoyed a trip to the Farm. After looking around our orchard and learning a bit about apples they returned to the classroom to make their own apple juice. There was lots of determination, carefully cutting the apples into small pieces before putting them into the scratter and then finally the apple press. Despite some children having previously mentioned not liking apple juice, everybody tried the finished product and really enjoyed it!

Youth Clubs

The Farm is a very popular place for young people. We run FREE projects for families and very young children, right up to 13 years. From 14 our youth club members graduate to become volunteers.     

Get Farming Club 
The Club have had another interesting activity filled month. They've been finishing their AQA accredited wildlife gardening project; spent time foraging on the foreshore; cooked their produce and cared for the animals.
The group love having cuddles with the guinea pigs and are being really quiet and kind to Rosie the rabbit so she becomes less shy. They also like discussing the 'stinky-ness scale' when meeting the animals. They are quite impressed with the billy goat but think the ferrets are still stinkier!
November ended with a trip to the Horniman Museum. The group enjoyed exploring the museum and aquarium; then went outside to learn how to look for tracks and signs as part of their John Muir Award.

Young Farmers Club  
Young Farmers have been busy helping across the Farm this month. They cleared back all of the dead and dying plants from their allotments; dug lots of soil out of the pig field to top up their raised beds and cleared all the sticks that had been thrown in the pond.
The members had a 'pumpkin challenge' to come up with ways to use all of our pumpkins. They halved and hollowed them to make edible bird feeders; made pumpkin skin chips, pumpkin purée, pumpkin pie, pumpkin biscuits; roasted the seeds for snacks and saved a few to plant next year!
Last weekend they walked Kiera to Surrey Quays Shopping Centre to meet with centre manager Ian Moore and promote the youth clubs. The shopping centre is owned by British Land who have generously sponsored the Club for many years, enabling young people to attend for free.

Piecing Together Our Past

This month we've been getting stuck into the research - we're compiling a document covering each of the 57 years that the smallpox and fever Receiving Station was running from the Farm's site, and have been working through reports at the Wellcome Library to find this information.  We're finding out things such as what happened on the site during World War I, and learning about the extremes of smallpox epidemics that were handled here - in the worst year more than 7000 smallpox patients were conveyed out of London via the River Ambulance Service, but in quieter years, it was sometimes as little as one, or no smallpox patients at all!  

We also held another foreshore training session, following which we had a search of the foreshore.  Despite the muddy silted surface, we did actually find 3 small fragments of MAB and LCC crockery.  Thanks to Eoin Murray for taking these photos. There will be one or two more foreshore training sessions over the next couple of months -.we need a few more local people willing to regularly monitor the foreshore, so please get in touch now if you're interested.


We have lots of great volunteers working on the project; if you'd like to get involved, you will be very welcome, so do get in touch - see the full details here: or contact

Training Projects

We deliver training projects for adult students with learning disabilities. Students develop skills in a range of areas including horticulture, retail, cooking, crafts, animal care and basic maintenance.

Plot to Shop 
The students have been busy making some amazing hanging baskets and table decorations using holly from the Farm. They will be selling them at our Christmas Fair so make sure you check out their stall near the main gate!
The group have also been carrying out their usual gardening tasks. They've cleared leaves; planted more meteor peas, garlic, beans; sowed winter lettuce and cleared their tomatoes from the polytunnel.
Youth Construction Trust visited to donate a table they had made for the Farm. Plot to Shop students welcomed the carpentry students and team. The table looks brilliant and will be great to use once the warmer weather returns!


Farm Produce
The students have been very busy in preparation for the coming Christmas Fair. They have harvested lots of quinces from our orchard and produced quince jam, jellies and cheeses in our farm kitchen. They also produced some marrow and green tomato chutneys along with the traditional lemon curd. The team will also be selling some of their craft work including cards and candles.


Cow Pat
The team are learning to work with the donkeys, ducks and Shetland pony. They've been spending the afternoons in the warmth of the animal room cuddling and grooming rabbits and guinea pigs, which is a very enjoyable job to do!

New Leaf
Students have planted their winter crops of broad beans, onions and garlic in their beds by the Thames path. They are also busy with Christmas Fair preparation - this time making bases for the wreaths. They will all make one of their own to take home too! There has been some serious pruning of the hedges, particularly behind the duck pond. The students have helped carry the cuttings down to the yard to provide enrichment for our goats.


Moo Crew 
It's been a busy few weeks for Moo Crew. We were delighted to welcome two new members to the group, Tevin and Tobi who have come via the Michael Tippet College in Balham. 

The group has been busy working on a mix of animal and maintenance tasks. This week the whole group got stuck in helping to lay sand between the gaps of the cobbles leading to our new livestock tool area. Lots of planning has been made for tasks for the rest of the year with DIY being top of the list!

Kieron has started to work with Jordan and Matt clearing out the goat house while Lou continues to be our Donkey Champion. Tevin and Tobi are happy to muck in where needed. Much talk about working with the sheep in the coming weeks. Lets hope the rain stays off.

Green Grow Cook and Go!

Drop-in Farm gardening. Saturdays 10.00 - 13.00:
Gardeners have been working on filling the herb spiral ahead of filling with herbs in the permaculture garden. Over the coming sessions we need enthusiastic helpers to help mulch, to plant the "canopy" layer of the garden and survey the existing plants. Harvesting is still underway despite the colder weather with carrots, celery, beetroot being dug up and fresh Mizuna, mixed salad leaves and Borage flowers cut to stock the Farm shop on Saturdays.  Gardeners have also been planning ahead for early Spring harvests by sowing winter lettuces in the raised bed next to the outdoor kitchen. In an effort to let no Farm grown food go to waste, drop-in gardeners have harvested Quince from our tree in the orchard and processed it into a delicious jelly: the perfect accompaniment to a roast dinner. All are welcome to these sessions - simply turn up at the Farm on Saturday mornings and join in. No previous gardening experience is necessary.

Conservation Trust 
As part of the Conservation Trust's Morus Londinium project, Surrey Docks Farm is taking part in growing on the next generation of London’s mulberry tree heritage. The “King James I” black mulberry sapling, propagated from a tree that once stood in Chelsea Physic Garden, is being planted in the permaculture garden at the end of the youth allotments. If you have always wanted to plant a tree but never had the opportunity you are more than welcome to attend the Saturday drop-in gardening groups to help prepare the site and plant the sapling. 

Workshops at the Farm
November's Natural Dye Workshop with Emma D'arcey of AO Textiles was a huge success, with some deep and vivid results from 100% pure plant dyes on silk, cotton and wool. The workshop offered the chance to discuss and explore sustainable and environmentally sensitive alternatives to industrialised textile production and how home-scale dyeing using plants freely available can give unexpected and beautiful results. 


If you have any questions or would like to get in touch about the Green, Grow, Cook and Go project, please email Lucy


Yoga on the Farm

Need to escape from the madness of the Christmas holidays? 

Treat yourself to YOGA BRUNCH AT THE FARM to find your inner space and calm. 
A relaxing, restorative yoga flow will concentrate on the areas of the body that might need some well earned TLC after the excess of the holidays, as well as giving time for reconnect with yourself through guided meditation. A 90 min yoga and meditation session will be followed by a vegan brunch by the wonderful Piccalilli cafe shared with like minded folk. 

9.30am - 12pm,  Thursday 29th December. 

£20 per person booking in advance essential via the website: 

The Forge
Kevin Boys our resident blacksmith holds classes every Sunday from 10am -12pm
Tel: 07984416269

There are always lots of interesting projects and new creations coming from the forge. Kevin was recently contacted by the BBC and spent an afternoon making a small axe with Lional from the Guyana rainforest! This will be featured in a documentary the BBC are making called The Man Who Fell To Earth and will be screened in the new year.

Kevin, Steve and David recently took part in the Lord Mayor’s parade. The Worshipful Company of Blacksmiths invited the team along to parade. They were all in their aprons and carrying hammers and tongs!

Kevin was interviewed for article in Spitalfields Life which is well worth a read.

Piccalilli Caff

Rotherhithe’s award winning café here at the Farm! 
Open Tuesday-Sunday 10am-4pm for all day breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea

Check their website for Christmas opening hours
Copyright © 2016 Surrey Docks Farm, All rights reserved.

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