If you live in Tower Hamlets and plan to adopt a rabbit or a guinea pig this Easter, Tom Goody is the local man you must see. He is also happy to teach you agricultural skills along the way.
Goody is Farmyard Manager at City Farm and Rural Arts Space in Stepney Green, where community volunteers have been working hard to prepare for the year ahead of animal agriculture and community service.
He spoke to ELL about the Farm’s current efforts in animal and community service in the area, highlighting some of the ways they are planning to pay back into the community with their charity work this year.
“We have a big emphasis on animal welfare here,” Goody commented. “A lot of what we do is with animal care and awareness in mind. However, we also provide services to local residents that give them the opportunity to save money and learn practical agricultural skills.”
As well as offering discounted contracts on plant and seed allotments to the area’s most financially vulnerable residents, the Farm also engages in community outreach programmes, often enlisting the help of its smaller, fluffier residents.
As part of its work, the Farm hosts a weekly therapy session called Furry Tales that connects handicapped residents in the area with pets abandoned on-site.
“We currently have over 14 abandoned rabbits, ferrets and guinea pigs,” Goody explained. “We don’t have much use for them on the farm, so we try to use them for good in the community while re-homing them. We’ve also taken them to places like Mile End Hospital in addition to our therapy work on-site.”
The Farm also hosts local artists’ work, most often exhibiting and providing studio space for works which promote animal welfare.
The site is currently showcasing iron-work by local blacksmith Ian Lowe, whose cage-oriented piece highlights the need for proper commitment and care in pet ownership. The work is featured next to the abandoned rabbit enclosure, enforcing the real consequences of his message.
“We showcase a lot of informational exhibits because frankly people just have no idea,” Goody said. “People rarely go home and research this on their own, so we need to show them and make them notice while they’re here.”
As well as providing therapeutic services to the local community, the Farm also has a dedicated classroom space for educational trips.
“We have an independent classroom space that schools can hire out,” Goody explained. “We teach the younger children about animals with treasure hunts and animal trails around the farm, while we teach the older children practical skills to do with plant cultivation.”
The Farm also uses incubation and breeding projects to teach the public about farmyard animal life.
“We are a working farm as well!” Goody added. “As well as surviving on charitable donations, we also look to make animal profit: this includes breeding and incubation projects as well as preparing food produce to sell.”