In 2010 we created Sutton Community Farm on a disused smallholding in Wallington. The original aim of the farm was to enable the local community to grow food together, managed by a core team of volunteers.
Originally given to ex-servicemen after the First World War as ‘land fit for heroes’, the smallholdings were thriving market gardens during most of the 20th century.
However, as food production and distribution changed with less outlets for local food, most of the smallholdings gradually stopped producing food and many fell into disuse.
While looking for land for the farm, EcoLocal introduced us to Saracenia Nurseries. A 7.5 acre site, Chris Crow had been using the glasshouses to produce carnivorous plants. However, a lot of the field space was not being used and we worked in partnership to set up the farm to utilise this land.
In January 2010 we launched the farm at a local primary school, with more than 50 people.
The farm’s first activity day was attended by more than 60 people; we erected the seed nursery out of recycled materials.
Since then we have held weekly volunteer days and had input from more than 900 volunteers. This has included regular sessions with the Youth Offending team, probation and local disability college Orchard Hill.
Activities and events have ranged from cob oven building to heritage wheat sowing and courses in permaculture. We also offer team building days.
From an empty field the farm now has a recycled packing shed, a compost toilet, three polytunnels, mains water connection, electricity and even the internet!
In July 2011 we launched our ‘Truly Local’ Veg Bag scheme. We now deliver fresh local vegetables to more than 135 households each week.
In 2011 the farm became an independent, not-for-profit social enterprise. The enterprise aims to:
- Run a community farm to supply organically grown produce and allied services to the local community
- Encourage community participation and consumption of local, sustainable produce
- Promote the One Planet Living principles
Sutton Community Farm is London’s only community farm and one of the largest organic growing spaces in the city. We are determined to ensure the farm is sustainable and are focusing on:
- Scale up growing and distribution to provide at least 500 households with fresh, local produce
- Improving the environment for the local community, enabling more participation, activities and educational opportunities
- Sutton Community Farm as a thriving example of peri-urban agriculture, a small but sustainable step towards a local food system
Sustainability is at the heart of everything we do and we follow the One Planet Living principles and integrate permaculture principles into our design. Find out more here.
Together we can ensure this story has a happy ending. Through hard work and unity we can ‘make food fair and cultivate community!‘
Thank you from everyone at Sutton Community Farm and our patron, BBC chef, Lorraine Pascal.