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First CoFarm family day showcases land as educational and inspirational




CoFarm’s first family day proved to be a big success as the Cambridge agro-ecology team welcomed people to the site and hosted tours and workshops through the day.

CoFarm family day visitors get useful on the site off Barnwell Road. Picture: Abbey People
CoFarm family day visitors get useful on the site off Barnwell Road. Picture: Abbey People

Visitors arrived for a morning session to see the astonishing progress being made on the site, which last year provided 4.5 tonnes of quality, organically grown produce for the community, especially the Abbey community which is nearby. Developments include a rabbit and deer-proof fence, plus a new orchard with 90 heritage trees. The market garden area is now blooming, and a fire pit for a barbecue was created by farm managers Dominic Walsh and Peter Wrapson, who also showed guests from across the region including Newmarket and Ely how the fields – full of weeds just two years ago – have been transformed into a fertile haven for wildlife as well as a fully-functioning urban farm.

The fire pit is up and running! Picture: Mike Scialom
The fire pit is up and running! Picture: Mike Scialom

Woodland walks tours were conducted for both the morning and afternoon sessions by Nicky Sheperd of Abbey People, who have been fully engaged with the project as the agro-ecology vision spearheaded by founder Gavin Shelton has taken shape.

“The team and I are really pleased to have had such a successful event in partnership with CoFarm Cambridge,” said Nicky. “We had great feedback from the families who came, they all really enjoyed themselves and some even made new friends. We will definitely be looking for opportunities to partner on events like this again in the future.”

As well as the barbecue of treats grown on the site, there were educational workshops for the youngsters to discover more about planting and the growing process ahead of World Environment Day on June 5.

Farm manager Dominic Walsh giving a tour of the CoFarm site. Picture: Abbey People
Farm manager Dominic Walsh giving a tour of the CoFarm site. Picture: Abbey People

“It was just wonderful to be able to welcome and involve local families in co-farming, said Gavin. “It was just wonderful to be able to welcome and involve local families in co-farming. The children planted potatoes and sowed lots of different vegetable seeds and we hope that they will come back and enjoy harvesting and eating them later in the season. Everyone also had a turn at making and cooking flatbreads over an open fire in our newly-planted heritage orchard and went for a nature walk to learn all about the plants and animals that live in and around Coldhams Brook – a rare and very important chalk stream we are so lucky to have beside the farm.”

Gavin Shelton, CoFarm founder, during the family day at the site
Gavin Shelton, CoFarm founder, during the family day at the site

“It was also fantastic to deepen our collaboration with local charity Abbey People, who recruited all of the families and did a great job of organising the day. We're so delighted that everyone enjoyed themselves so much. We clearly have some very promising young co-farmers in Abbey who will keep their very own farm going well into the future!”

The event was made possible with funding from Cambridgeshire Skills via the Adult Education Budget Community Learning Grant from Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority (CPCA).



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