Being Chief Executive of the farm is a hugely rewarding job – it’s the best I’ve ever had. The challenges it throws at me are many and varied, and over the next few months we have a new set to look forward to (in the same way you might look forward to boarding the ghost train at a fun fair).
Over the past decade the city farm has grown in confidence and reach as its fabric has been improved (with thanks to many generous donors) and its staff team has knitted together to achieve its mission. Faces have changed, but the drive of the people here to make an organisation that responds to its community and meets local needs has been unwavering.
Our neighbourhood, too, has changed and while complaints may be made of its ‘gentrification’ we recognise there remain many people with physical and emotional needs that we meet – not all of them diagnosed. Our role in embodying the ‘sense of community’ that people living here feel (and that has risen so well to our latest challenges) is stronger now than for many years.
So, where next for the city farm? We face huge challenges as we move forward: staying relevant to our community; attracting people back to our activities; and re-building the business that underpins our financial survival. We’re trying to avoid too much speculation and worry about issues like how to eat soup through a face mask, what the safe distance between lettuce plants might be and whether petting a guinea-pig with rubber gauntlets has the same soothing effect. Instead we’re trying to focus on how to keep staff and visitors feeling safe while they’re here, ensure we guard people’s livelihoods and continue to do something useful for our community.
The pandemic has made it clear that our greatest strength lies in our connection to the people nearest to us. We will be re-doubling our efforts to connect, communicate and respond to the needs of local people. We will also be making an ask of you to support our endeavour, including, for those able, to make a financial contribution.
The best thing about the future is that is hasn’t happened yet. We can help to shape it into the future we want it to be and we’d like to work with you to do that.