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Farm Newsletter - March 2017

Welcome to your monthly update from the Farm!

We're currently recruiting for an Admin Apprentice aged 16-23 years old to join the staff team. This role will oversee the running of our busy farm shop and support with project administration, whilst offering the chance to gain a Level 2 Diploma in Business & Administration. The successful candidate should have strong customer service, organisation and admin skills.
Full details available via our website.

Work developing the community plot area of the Farm finished in March, when volunteers David and Andy from Zopa installed a new shed. 
Thanks to Ardmore who funded the installation of a new concrete path and thanks to Southwark Council's Cleaner Greener Safer programme which funded the new raised beds, shed and water extension. It's wonderful to see all these improvements!

We've been given three marathon places through Southwark Mayor's Charity this year. Each runner has been given a target of £1,500 to raise for the Farm. Have a read of their stories and please help support our runners through their fundraising pages by clicking here.

Thanks to James from Aeroarts who volunteered his graffiti skills to transform our donation cow with a new spray of paint! 

This month we have a fantastic line up of family and youth activities for the Easter holidays. Join us to bottle-feed the lambs; meet the small animals in our handling sessions; take part in our Easter egg hunt; or become a farmer for the day. We're also running our popular Family Cooking workshops on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday mornings during the Easter Holidays. The sessions are aimed at 8's and under with parent's involvement. We provide the recipes, ingredients and guidance so that parents can get cooking with their children, we'll even do the washing up! Full details on our website here


It's been a busy month for the livestock team! Lambing finished with lots of twins being born and the arrival of several bottle-fed lambs who we took on when they were orphaned at another farm.
We had a good hatch rate from our chicken eggs that were incubated by local primary schools. The little chicks have now returned to the Farm.

A big thanks to volunteers who deep-cleaned the goat barn ready for kidding. This was finished just in time as our first goat kid arrived early at the end of March, with many more to follow throughout April.

We welcomed a group from Time and Talents who enjoyed meeting our ferret, turkey, lamb, guinea pig and goat in the classroom. Our guinea pig was a particular favourite with a couple of people wanting to take her home tucked into their coats!

Congratulations to our Livestock Apprentice, Brandon, who has been chosen to join the youth team in the World Angus Forum this summer! Full details here.

Youth Clubs

The Farm is a very popular place for young people. We offer two FREE clubs for those aged 8 to 13 years old. From 14 our youth club members graduate to become volunteers.     

Get Farming Club 

This month Get Farming Club have been preparing for Spring. The youth allotment is starting to take shape now and the children have been industriously sowing seeds - salads, cauliflower, radishes, beans, peas and carrots are all growing nicely. The club members have also planted out strawberries, sweet woodruff and red valerian in the permaculture garden.

An ongoing job, and an important part of caring for the wildlife garden is to removing logs from the pond. The club members have really enjoyed watching the frogs splashing around in the pond recently. 

Get Farming Club have also been giving the ferrets some enrichment by making a hidden food obstacle course. They've enjoyed petting the new born lambs and taking care of the turkeys. 

Young Farmers Club  

This month the Young Farmers have been very busy tending the allotments, collecting eggs, baking, learning about bee keeping, making butter, searching for snails, observing frog spawn and helping prepare the goat house for the arrival of our baby goats!

The Young Farmers have noticed an increase in the number of eggs laid by our chickens as the days get warmer - "Life is good when you get 49 chicken eggs!"  They've been recording the number of eggs collected on Capital Growth's online harvest-o-meter. It will be interesting to notice the seasonal differences and make a chart at the end of the year.

When weeding the youth allotments the Young Farmers noticed the number of nettles that had been growing around their raised beds and, rather than just put them all in the compost, decided it would be a good idea to use them to make nettle tea! We boiled them up on the biodigester and then retired to the warmth of the polytunnel to drink our home-made tea. Everyone tasted the tea and some even tried the boiled nettles leaves (which tasted a bit like spinach!).

We've also been excited about the fact that next month our Young Farmer Volunteer, Amy, is going to be running the London Marathon to raise money for the Farm. You can help sponsor Amy by clicking here. Good luck Amy!


Green Grow Cook and Go!

The Farm has linked to a local brewery in a beer making experiment that aims to reduce food miles and demonstrate the possibilities of creating something consumable from the Farm's permaculture garden. 


Cobb Goldings hops are now growing along the fence, thanks to the Drop-in Gardeners' hard work digging and re-landscaping the garden. These hops will be harvested and taken to the brewery (via the Thames Path) for brewing and then returned to the Farm for ageing in barrels in the dairy. It will be exciting to taste some Surrey Docks Farm beer in the not so distant future! 

The drop-in gardeners and the Young Farmers took part in the Keep Britain Tidy litter pick at the Farm removing three sacks of rubbish. Thank you to those who help keep the Farm clean and tidy.


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.

Cow Pat
This month we talked about what we like doing best. Paul's favourite job is cleaning out the duck house, he's become a real expert at it. Harry is always reminding us that the water trough in the yard needs to be kept nice and clean and topped up with fresh, delicious water. Rachel loves bonding with Keira the Miniature Shetland Pony. She does this by cleaning her stable and leading her on walks. Moishe likes to be flexible and putting in all his effort to whatever job needs doing on the day.


Plot to Shop
March is one of the busiest months in the gardening calendar. The Plot to Shop group has been working really hard pricking out all the young seedlings sown earlier in the year. The polytunnel is overflowing with heritage tomatoes, peppers, chillis, aubergines and cucumbers ready for sale very soon.
We have started planting outside this month, using horticultural fleece to protect the young seedlings from any late frost. Check out our raised beds for lettuces, chard, spinach, salad leaves, beetroot, kale and cauliflowers as well as our autumn sown peas, broad beans, garlic and onions.


The shelves for our new garden centre are now completed thanks to some fantastic DIY skills and a lot of hard work from the students. This is a new initiative for the group - for the first time we have been growing lots of spring bedding plants to sell outside the Farm Shop, as well as our fruit and veg. We hope you will support the project by buying young plants from us to stock your garden, patio or windowsills!

New Leaf
The students have been weeding and clearing their beds ready for the new growing season. The broad beans and peas are doing well and are now in flower. We've been selling lots of compost made by the New Leaf team through the Farm Shop.
Jordan, Michael and David have planted their potatoes and Michael also planted out the first cauliflower and lettuce.
The polytunnel is full of young plants that the students have pricked out to start preparing for the plant stall at our Spring Fair in May. We'll have lots of tomatoes, as well as lettuce, cauliflower, brussel sprouts etc.
The students ended this term by making pizza in the wood oven and sharing for lunch!

Farm Produce
The students have enjoyed a busy month of baking. Harry made chocolate chip and ginger cookies, a Sicilian Scroll bread and an almond Easter rabbit cake. Monica baked some luscious lemon squares, an Easter lamb cake and french onion soup. Paul made Irish soda bread, rhubarb, gooseberry and ginger jam and St Patrick Day themed fairy cakes.


Harry and Monica have been working with batik, Harry decorated a silk scarf and made a bag for mothers day and Monica decorated a tote bag. Paul and Harry made an Easter basket using decorated duck eggs. 

Moo Crew
What a month it's been! Lou has been getting to know Herbie the cow's routine and cleaning out his house. Kieron has been gaining confidence working with our donkeys and is adept at hoof picking. Our dynamic duo Jordan and Matt have been helping the livestock team deep clean the goat house. Tevin and Toby have been working with Dylan out prized boar and have been putting in the muscle on the muck heap.


School Visits & Outreach

St Joseph's RC Primary school visited for a composting and recycling workshop and St John's Angell Town CE School visited for a farm tour and were very excited to see the lambs.  
St Josephs Catholic Primary School, English Martyrs, Mini Treasures Nursery, St James CE Primary School and Drumbeat School came for self led visits.

Young people from The Complete Works have been continuing to visit the farm on Friday afternoons. They have learnt how to make felt, create candles from beeswax, plant wheat, peas and sunflower seeds and help bottle-feed our new baby lambs.
The students went on a visit to the local park to collect deadwood for an end of term fire. They remembered everything they'd learnt and were quick to spot which wood would be good for burning, before using secateurs and saws to cut the wood up and sort pieces by size in preparation for a camp fire.

This month Kirsty has been continuing to work on a new programme of weekly sessions for young people with special educational needs. She has developed this programme with educators from Spa School and Cherry Gardens schools, to ensure the sessions meet the needs of their pupils.
Kirsty took our Guinea pigs to meet some key stage 4 pupils at Spa school in preparation for their first visit to the Farm. Students also had the chance to feel different objects from the Farm (feathers, wool, straw, eggs and a goats horn!). They looked at pictures of the different animals, fed the guinea pig some dandelion leaves and watched a video tour to learn about what they would see when they came to visit.
This helped prepare the students for their initial visits, and they are looking forward to coming on a weekly basis after the Easter holidays.

Kirsty is also looking into ways of making the Farm more accessible for SEN visitors and has developed a survey to find out how we can further improve provision for self-led visits. If you are an educator working with young people with special educational needs we'd love to hear from you, please click here for a link to the survey.

Piecing Together Our Past

Our Heritage Lottery Funded project aiming to piece together the full history of the former smallpox and fever Receiving Station on the Farm’s site:
You can now see the Blitz mosaic made with the Young Farmers and Get Farming groups – it’s along the Farm’s riverside path, on the compost bins near the Wildlife Garden.  There are also some more things to see in the new display cabinet just outside the Farm office too.
We’ve hosted two visits this month by groups of local older people from South London Cares and the Time & Talents Pub Club.  The idea behind these visits is not only to introduce them to the fascinating history here, but to see if anyone has any information to help us in our research.  We struck lucky with these groups – one lady used to work at a neighouring timber yard, and one man even worked on this site itself when it was used to store shipping containers in the late 1960s and 1970s.  He was able to explain what went on here at the time, and revealed that there were working animals kept here even then – geese acting as guard dogs/intruder alarms, and horses housed alongside to pull the carts of scrap metal collectors.  Another of these visitors actually used to play inside the Blitz-damaged nurses’ accommodation block on the site as a child, and thinks he remembers and has a photo of one of the Blitz heroes that we're trying to find out about.
The research at the London Metropolitan Archives is going well in that we’re now finding some surprisingly dramatic stories in the handwritten report books.  There are regular instances of the male staff being drunk and insolent; there’s a report of police turning up for one of them who had deserted his wife and 3 children while ‘contracting marriage’ with a nurse working on the site, and a shocking tirade of abuse at the superintendent from his fed-up clerk. 

We’d welcome any further volunteers who’d like to get involved, especially with the research, whether you have experience or not.
Get in touch to find out more:     
Or visit our webpage:
The Forge
Kevin Boys our resident blacksmith holds classes every Sunday from 10am -12pm
Tel: 07984416269

Piccalilli Caff

Rotherhithe’s award winning café here at the Farm! 
Open Tuesday-Sunday 10am-4pm for all day breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea
Copyright © 2017 Surrey Docks Farm, All rights reserved.

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