Regeneration of a bit of inner city Bradford lies at the core of Horton Community Farm – a project aimed at ‘community’ in the heart of Bradford
The Farm is located on the city’s Cecil Avenue allotments. Here just under a couple of acres of land is being transformed from underused, unloved and generally overgrown and vandalised into a thriving permaculture project for food growing and community resilience. The aim is to supply locally grown, fresh fruit and veg which is accessible to all the local community to pick, to volunteers who can take produce home, and the farm also supplies a local cafe.
The project has 5 strands of work; education, volunteering, wildlife, horticultural therapy and food growing. They aim to provide a hub for community activities and ventures such as composting, mentoring for food growing & tool use, gardening skills, healthy eating, a resource for education (school, youth and community groups) and volunteer opportunities. Another part of the project has mini-plots (in practice huge grow-bags!!!), currently a demonstration area which has been set up with the help of young people and which can be used by anyone as part of a package to learn to grow their own food without the need to dig or take on a larger plot and without the need to buy their own tools or seeds/other resources, such as compost.
The project is run by a worker’s co-operative currently of 3 but with hopes of attracting new ones. Charlie Gray, a Community and Training Coordinator, currently leads the planning and co-ordination of site activities to create the programme which attracts an amazing array of volunteers from within the local community. These range from experienced gardeners and growers such as Sheila – keen on watering! – giving of their time and expertise to others less experienced such as Hamadi (originally from Somalia) and young Asam who pretty much stole the show pictorially! Those helped in this way include people with mental health difficulties, local people who are unemployed and those wanting to contribute to their local community, asylum seekers and refugees and children and their families. Charlie is supported by Jonathan and Laura, the other current co-op members who both work on site and behind the scenes to make the soup, run and support volunteer sessions and to keep on top of a myriad DIY and admin jobs on such an inner city site.
The project takes referrals onto a horticultural therapy program supporting newly arrived asylum seekers and refugees to make friends and get involved in the community, and everyone works together growing food in the polytunnels and in the outdoors raised beds and therapy garden. Everyone is provided with a lunch of soup made with produce from the farm and can take home fresh produce.
They also work with children and families through weekly forest school sessions for homeschoolers and are currently developing Bradford’s first inner city forest garden, planting the herbaceous and ground cover layers under the trees in their orchard.
The Cecil Avenue allotment site is around 5 acres in total area with 100 plots, but in the past only around 10% of the total site has been actively cultivated, meaning it was not only overgrown with weeds, brambles, undergrowth and native saplings, but problems with fly-tipping, vandalism, theft and drug use. All have noticeably improved as the site is being used more.
To understand more about Horton Community Farm click here to access the farm’s website.
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