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Keats Community Organics

Keats Community Organics is a small scale community farm growing and selling a variety of organic vegetables and offering training, volunteer opportunities and horticultural therapy. They demonstrate that organic food production in urban areas can be financially sustainable whilst benefiting local people and the environment. All our vegetables are grown in a way that maximizes biodiversity and are sold to restaurants, shops, and families in South East London.

As well as producing food Keats Community run a popular apprenticeship scheme which trains people wishing to work in the organic sector in London. They work with a variety of local volunteers who come to the farm to learn about horticulture and offer horticultural therapy to individuals referred to us from the NHS.

Now in its 3rd year, the farm is well established in the Welling community and with the support of local people continue to grow from strength to strength.

In addition to the structures training program they also offer twice weekly volunteer sessions where local people can come help at the farm and share in the harvest.


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Outcome

Direct:

  • Increased the availability of organic produce through growing and distributing over £20,000 of organics vegetables in South East London.
  • Increased the provision of training for young people through their Apprentice program and have trained up 2 apprentice growers and are currently training 3 more.
  • Increased the availability of food growing space for local people by providing 24 allotment plots for local people to grow their own food.
  • Increased opportunities for volunteering and informal learning by delivering over 1000 hours of volunteering session on the farm.
  • Increased the provision of horticultural therapy through delivering over 500 hours of horticultural therapy sessions on the farm.
  • Increased employment in the area by providing jobs for 4 local people.

Indirect:

  • Decreased anti-social behaviour through taking community ownership of a piece of disused land.
  • Improved the environment of the area through clearing 3 skip loads of rubbish from the land.
  • Increased biodiversity of the area through growing plants that attract insects.

 


 

The Keats apprenticeship has been amazing. Lots of new contact made and so many new skills learned, on a beautiful and inspiring community farm. Jack and Chrissy are talented and generous teachers, working on a dynamic, ‘grow to sell’ model of urban community food growing. It was the best thing I’ve done in years.

Tim Mitchell – Keats Community Organics Apprentice


I feel part of the family at Keats, it’s the perfect balance between a relaxing and stimulating environment and I’m lucky to have started my journey as a community food grower in such a unique place

Rosa Bevan – Keats Community Organics Apprentice


The steady presence of all the activities on Keats Farm and the welcome from everyone when visiting has made big difference to the lives of my mother (who lives close by) and myself and helped us cope better with recent changes, which coincided with the start of Keats Community Organics.

I’ve enjoyed the various challenges of finding materials and equipment, mostly recovered from stuff discarded or donated by local residents; also the construction of the poly tunnels and tasks related to site infrastructure, such as tree shaping, and maintaining fencing and gates. My more regular visits to care for my mother now have an extra dimension because of these activities, which can be shared in our conversation.

My mum has been stirred to more frequent exercise, to come and see what is going on and enjoyed seeing all the plants and flowers growing, and also simply relaxing in the sun, watching all the activities from a well place chair on fine days.

It has also been good to have a small plot to grow and harvest our own crops; and to be able to seek advice, and to observe techniques in practice which can be applied in our garden at home. 

Robert Heyward – Keats Community Organics Volunteer

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