Case Study: City Harvest Festival
For the last 17 years, and run on a shoestring, this unique harvest event has celebrated and showcased the work of community gardens and city farms in inner-city London, particularly with children and young people. The show’s exhibitors and organisers are small charities located in deprived parts of London and offer experience of the natural world to Londoners of all ages, backgrounds and abilities.
Gardens and farms from all across London come to take part, this year including the Woodlands Farm Trust in Greenwich, St Mary’s Secret Garden in Hackney, Rotherhithe’s Surrey Docks and Hammersmith’s Phoenix School Farm. They show what they grow, from giant sunflowers to mini-gardens. Animals include big Shire horses and small ferrets and call ducks-many of the animals shown are rare breeds such as Buff Orpington chickens and Southdown sheep and are looked after by the young farmers clubs.
The horticulture show reflects and celebrates the diversity of London harvest produce-everything, from King Edwards potatoes to Bangladeshi gourds and even chickpeas, exhibited at the show, is grown in London. The entries are stunning, including this year’s winner from Spitalfields City Farm-photo attached. Entering a horticulture show encourages and recognises the work of the many volunteers involved with these small charities. Growing fruit and vegetables near to where they live shows kids where their food comes from and shows that it is possible to grow fresh local produce yourself or buy it to support your local community garden or farm. And harvesting can be great fun too-you can see this in the photo attached of the Biggest Pumpkin winner from Kentish Town City Farm.
The show has been lucky to attract volunteer judges who are experts in their field, including the Chelsea Physic Garden. For the animal show, one judge comes from Cambridge and others come from Duchy College in Cornwall to support the young people. “It was a great day yesterday and very well organised. I was very pleased to take part and see everyone again. The standard of animals and those exhibiting them was again exceptionally high. Many thanks and congratulations to all on a fantastic event, which achieves so much.” - John Fishwick Royal Veterinary College
At the animal show some 200 young people meet others from different backgrounds and learn to work together as a team. Putting on a show for the public and being judged on their work is a great confidence-builder for the young people and a great source of pride for the community projects. You can see this in the attached photo of this year’s animal show winners Surrey Docks Farm. “Our volunteers and staff really enjoyed themselves and got a huge amount out of the event” Gemma, Hooper Farm Manager.
The City Harvest show is hosted and supported by Capel Manor College, London’s main provider in horticulture and animal care. The college made a 3 minute video of the 2015 show which can be seen here: