There is a powerful force for good in Bath, with wonderful staff and volunteers. Bath City Farm is the second largest city farm in England and stretches for 37 acres over one of the hills (downs) of Bath. Secured by dedicated volunteers for the benefit of the local community in 1987, today it is a thriving and exciting community project. With a variety of livestock, farm shop, community learning area and even beehives, this special place offers an escape from the city, in the city. I felt very uplifted after visiting there today and chatting to some of the volunteers who care for the farm, and left thinking about their mantra:
Quite apart from the animals and plants that are cherished on the farm, I was very happy to find such a warm and positive welcome from the from the farm community. I arrived a little after opening time, and every single person I saw greeted me and said hello. Like all of the best communities, this is a welcoming and supportive one. It is also a place with many, many works in progress, as member of staff, James, told me. Next to the goat enclosure is a Yurt undergoing construction, and I saw two lovely living tree arches beginning to take shape. The place almost hums with activity and energy.
The animals that I saw were clearly very happy and well cared for. They also had a calm inquisitiveness that was very endearing. There are well-maintained paths throughout the farm, and the animal enclosures spread out along the flanks of the hill. My favourite animals were two tiny ponies and a very intelligent-looking goat, who seemed fascinated by my camera. Glancing around, I also saw hens, roosters, Indian Running Ducks, cattle, sheep and an abundance of wild birds. It was wonderful.
As well as having wonderful aspirations for the future of the site, the farm is also an extremely practical and sustainable place. There are training and education rooms, a well-stocked farm shop and several sink facilities for visitors to sterilise their hands after visiting the animals. Plants are for sale, and 'The Trough' cafe also serves hungry and thirsty visitors, sat at benches with a wonderful, sweeping views of the city centre beneath them.
Bath City Farm offers a rare and precious combination of experiences. It is fun, educational and inspiring, and an extremely welcoming place to visit. Perhaps the most remarkable thing is that it is completely free to visit, despite having annual running costs of over £150,000 pounds. There is a suggested donation of £2, and this can be left at a few different points throughout the site, or people can donate via their mobile phones. Any donations go directly to the upkeep and maintenance of the farm, and there are numerous information points that keep people informed of how their donations are being used.
With regular events (everything from bonfire night celebrations to animal therapy), there is a wealth of great things to see and do at this superb place. I shall be there in four days time with my wife and son, to celebrate Bonfire Night and watch the fireworks that will light up the city below. Perhaps I will see you there. If not, then I wish you very well whenever you do go and see Bath City Farm. You will not be disappointed.