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Save Stonebridge City Farm from Closure

11 February 19 words: Rebecca S. Buck
photos: Tom Morley

Started by local residents four decades ago, Stonebridge City Farm in St Ann’s is a well-loved part of Nottingham life. But with their future in doubt, this community charity has launched an urgent fundraising appeal...

For all the vivacity and convenience that comes with living in a well-populated, bustling city like Nottingham, there inevitably comes a time where the need to escape to somewhere more peaceful arises. A break from the interminable adverts publicising the latest Marvel film, the incessant stream of social media notifications or the endless sea of nameless faces. A return, if only briefly, to the feeling of serenity we all need to remain sane in a world where community has all but been replaced by individualism. In Nottingham, that experience can be found at Stonebridge City Farm, a free-to-visit sanctuary in the heart of St. Ann’s.

As well as acting as home to an array of animals, including goats, ponies and Kevin the tortoise, the farm provides an essential service to the community, supporting over 120 people every week, many of whom have learning disabilities and mental health issues. They also provide a range of educational programmes in conjunction with schools and colleges across Nottinghamshire. In 2018 alone, the registered charity received visits from almost 1,000 school children, as well as providing over 700 volunteer opportunities.

For all it does to present a place of tranquility for Nottingham locals, as well as a home for countless animals, it’s in these volunteer opportunities that the true value of Stonebridge City Farm becomes apparent. Providing a sense of meaningful purpose, independence and physical activity, these roles significantly help volunteers improve their mental health as well as their employment prospects, including providing a vital respite for families and carers.  

Within a few minutes of walking around the farm, you’d be excused for forgetting that you’re still so close to the structured chaos of the city centre. A palpable sense of calm greets you everywhere you walk, and the increasingly rare presence of real community. Volunteers tend to the animals, selling small bags of food to feed to the goats and sheep, or providing young children with the opportunity to stroke one of their many guinea pigs.

Despite all that it offers to so many people in Nottingham, Stonebridge City Farm has come under threat of closure as it struggles to survive the winter. Receiving no direct funding from two-thirds of the people it supports, the charity has found its public service grant funding reduced significantly over recent years. As visitor numbers inevitably dwindle during the colder months, so does the level of income provided from the on-site café, gift shop and guest donations, which currently provide 95% of the farm’s total income, along with garden sales, educational visits, grants and animal boarding (you can have your rabbit or guinea pig cared for at the farm for just £3 per day). With the danger of closure looming, the farm has launched a fundraiser, with a target of at least £30,000 to see it through the rest of winter and safeguard its future.

Considering this potential closure, it seems natural to query why the farm doesn’t introduce an entrance fee, particularly as similar attractions charge around £10 for admission. But Stonebridge is a community-focused charity, located in an area of the city where many simply cannot afford to pay for entrance. The aim is clear: to keep the farm inclusive and accessible to all.

“Stonebridge City Farm has become such an important part of Nottingham life for volunteers and beneficiaries, families as well as schools and colleges,” says Peter Armitage, General Manager of the farm. “This importance isn’t limited to the people that can visit, but what the farm represents on a larger scale. Far from just a green space for animals and home-grown vegetables, it’s an oasis of humanity, sustainability, education and compassion. It’s a manifestation of the important role community can still play in the modern world, providing joy, relaxation and genuinely life-changing experiences for its volunteers, and now is the time for the community which has benefitted so much from the farm’s presence to show their support. “I’m confident that the people of Nottingham will help us through the next few months so we can continue our work,” Armitage continues. “We are so grateful to everyone.”

As well as donating via JustGiving, you can also donate via bank transfer (Stonebridge City Farm, Unity Trust Bank, Account No. 20241218, Sort Code 60-83-01, Reference Appeal) or text donate (SBCF£ to 70085)~

Stonebridge City Farm Fundraiser on JustGiving

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