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Blogs | Jan 2024

January update from Jamie’s Farm Waterloo

It’s been a busy start to the year with five new Jamie’s Farm six-week programmes starting, each visiting for half a day. This includes two schools referred via West London Zone (Pimlico Academy and King Solomon Academy), Haringey Learning Partnership, local Oasis Academy Southbank and a second group from Pimlico Academy focusing on social, emotional and mental health. All of these schools have worked with us before at Waterloo, so it’s great to be welcoming some friendly and enthusiastic staff members back to the farm!

Our final event hire of 2023 saw the farm taken over by 200 Santas on BMX bikes, as local charity ECHO (supporting babies born with heart problems at local Evelina Children’s Hospital) hired the farm for its annual festive fundraiser. The farm was the last stop on a tour of London by Santas on bikes raising money as they went. We’re about to host our first event hire of 2024 – a photoshoot by upcoming fashion designers who want to use the barn, showing the breadth of event hires at Waterloo.

As with the rest of the country, we have been battling with icy temperatures the past week. This saw our waterpipes freeze (including in the kitchen) and some of our spicy winter salad took a bit of a battering from the frost, but it looks like it’s survived to grace another plate. The strong winds after Christmas also caused some havoc with our kitchen roof, so we’re looking to replace it next month. 

Our sheep and goats have been enjoying recycling lots of local Christmas trees by eating the needles. School groups have then helped saw up the skeleton trees for use on future firepits. 

We were delighted to have been featured in The Independent just after Christmas, showcasing our work with young people in the heart of the city. You can read the feature here.

After over five years working at our Waterloo farm, and three years volunteering, Michelle Zahner is leaving us as Farm Events Officer. Michelle has masterminded the journey of the farm from “potential events venue” to now being a space which is booked out in the summer months (when children aren’t on site) for weddings, corporate parties and conferences, fashion shows, book launches and the like. Not only does this help towards financing our work with young people, it also allows many more people to enjoy our farm in the full flush of the warmer months. Michelle has been a creative, funny, multi-talented and energising member of the farm team and we’re very sorry to see her go.  

Michelle has been working her final month and helping induct her replacement, Alison Middleton, who we’re delighted started with us at the beginning of January.  

It’s been great to see the early changes resulting from young people visiting the farm this year. One young man went from stating “I don’t want to be here” at the outset to smiling broadly by the end of his first visit. The following week, he started to show pride in his achievements and felt confident enough to share this with staff. ‘I’m strong’ he beamed as he hauled an enormous bag of straw across the farmyard. By week three he has been grabbing any opportunity to feed the goats and has declared himself ‘the one and only goat whisperer’.