A lady feeds a sheep at Stepney City FarmDonations

Stepney City Farm

Flourishing education programme at urban farm project

Stepney City Farm is a working farm, providing environmental education and outdoor learning in Tower Hamlets. The grant of £5000 from the Axis Foundation will purchase desks and chairs for their classroom and replace deteriorated furniture.

“We are delighted to have been awarded this support from Axis. The positive impact on lives of green space, ecotherapy, working with nature and animals, gardening and green-care initiatives is well documented: the Farm provides a free and unique facility for these activities for local communities in the heart of one of the most deprived boroughs in the country.

“Our Classroom facilities are key to delivering our environmental programming, providing an indoor learning space used for our curriculum-linked schools programme, young and adult volunteering sessions, bespoke workshops, family events, and our dementia intervention group. The upgrade to the furniture will make the space infinitely more flexible and increase our capacity to deliver sessions and further develop our programming” – Clare Hawkins, Chief Executive 

More About Stepney City Farm

The farm hosts curriculum-linked activities for over 5,000 school children every year. Local children, many of whom rarely get the chance to travel outside of the city, can grow their own food, experience rural arts and crafts and connect with nature.

The urban farm project is based in Tower Hamlets, an inner-city community in London with one of the highest rates of child poverty in the UK. Their educational programmes enable local youngsters, including young offenders and children with special educational needs, to build life skills and confidence and reduce feelings of isolation.

Their Farmer’s Market provides the area with a source of affordable, organic produce. The ‘Furry Tales’ programme provides animal-assisted therapy to those living with dementia. Their volunteer programme brings together 500 participants a year, including those with higher level support needs benefiting from greencare activities, and workers who are keen for an escape from urban life.

Children at Holy Lodge Centre learning about natureDonations

Holly Lodge Centre

Granting urban children chance to discover nature at Outdoor Learning Centre

Holly Lodge Centre is an outdoor learning centre in Richmond Park. Here they’ve adapted their beautiful two-acre nature trail to allow children – including those with even the most complex needs – to access the natural world.

In 2017, over 5,600 children – 678 of whom were disabled – attended Holly Lodge Centre natural world workshops. For some it was their very first encounter with nature. Many of the pupils live in high rise flats and attend schools with tarmac outdoor areas. They met tadpoles, newts, stag beetles and even slugs and snails: some had never seen such creatures before.

In 2018, the Axis Foundation granted £4,000 towards the outdoor learning centre to create more workshops and provide additional transport so that more children can attend.

“This donation is so exciting, giving children living in urban areas the opportunity to get outside and discover for themselves fantastic invertebrates, birds and pond creatures.

“We can immediately see the benefit these children get from being in a natural space, they get so excited to even see ants! It is most amazing for children who struggle in the classroom, their teachers are delighted to see them so enthusiastic to learn about wildlife in our beautiful setting.

“It is vital that children have the opportunity to explore and discover nature; even more so for children with disabilities who have least access to the outside world.

“Thanks to the generous donation from the Axis Foundation we were able to deliver 12 free workshops… The feedback from the sessions was overwhelming positive with 100% of the schools scoring each session with 5 out of 5 for the group enjoying the session and for the session meeting their curriculum requirements” – Anna King, Centre Manager

What the teachers said

  • “Exciting, engaging tasks….. we loved the pollen games, making a tree, potting plants and the leaves’ hunt. It was perfect, thank you so much”
  • “Hands-on pond dipping enthralled our pupils. Very happy with our experiences, we would love a longer day”
  • “The children really enjoyed looking for bugs and lifting logs to see what was underneath them”
  • “The level of detail in each session was really valuable, the class particularly enjoyed the camouflage”
  • “All of it was really good, especially the outdoor activities where the children can get stuck in with nature”