Farm History

Spitalfields City Farm is the nearest city farm to the square mile. Despite this, the farm is located in one of the most deprived and densely populated wards of Tower Hamlets (DOE 1996), although Spitalfields remains a vibrant and colourful multi-cultural area with strong community links.

Sited on a former railway goods depot, the farm was started in 1978 in response to local people’s wishes to convert wasteland into allotments, having lost theirs to developers. With a long tradition in the East End of backyard farming, it wasn’t long before chickens, rabbits and geese appeared on the scene!

The Farm site 120 years ago:

(C) The 1893-96 Ordnance Survey map of London — released by the National Library of Scotland

As the farm gained momentum and status, it began to attract local borough funding and was able to begin employing staff and developing links with the wider community.

In 1987, lack of revenue funding almost caused the farm to close. The farm has also been under regular threat from developers.  Successive bids to various charitable trusts, companies and public funding bodies, as well a strong local support have enabled the farm to continue and grow.

The farm gained charitable status in 1980 and has since developed into a project providing a wide range of activities and opportunities to the local community and visiting groups.

The farm is a registered charity and company limited by guarantee, managed by a voluntary management committee drawn from its membership and elected annually.

Receiving over 18,000 visitors a year and spread over 1.3 acres of land owned by the London Borough of Tower Hamlets and Railtrack. The farm keeps a selection of farm animals and has developed growing areas in every available space.

The Farm site today:

(C) Google - Imagery 2014