Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 53

Image used with permission of Hackney City Farm

Urban Farms: Fertile Ground for the Growth of

Community Cohesion? An Exploration of Hackney City

Alexandra Payne
MSc Regional and Urban Planning Studies, LSE, 2010

I would like to thank the whole of Hackney City Farm’s staff and volunteers for their
help and support, but most of all for making me feel like a part of your family. Special
thanks to all those who agreed to be interviewed in the course of my research and to the
volunteers, especially, for putting up with my constant questions during our afternoon
sessions and tea times. Without you none of this would have been possible. To Charlie
who took me on as a volunteer and facilitated my research through provision of all types
of information, introductions to numerous interviewees, and general guidance about the
goings on at the farm, I owe a debt of gratitude that a million afternoons of potting and
harvesting vegetables can only begin to repay. Thank you all for your help, but more so,
for the experience.

Above: Julia, Charlotte, and Charlie

Below: Charlotte, Rachel and James

Payne 2010  1 
Image used with permission of Hackney City Farm

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Introduction.........................................................................................................4 
Chapter 2:Literature Review ...............................................................................................6 
Modern ‘Crisis in Cohesion’........................................................................................................... 6 
Urban Farming: Background Literature .................................................................................11 
Chapter 3: Case Study .......................................................................................................... 16 
Hackney City Farm .........................................................................................................................16 
Chapter 4: Findings & discussion .................................................................................... 20 
Social Identities and Diversity ...................................................................................................20 
HCF as an ‘Open public Arena” ...................................................................................................22 
Barriers To Entry............................................................................................................................23 
Cohesion Building...........................................................................................................................25 
Cohesion and the Broader Community ...................................................................................28 
Chapter 5: Conclusion ......................................................................................................... 30 
References............................................................................................................................... 33 
Appendices.............................................................................................................................. 37 

Payne 2010  2 
In recent years UK government policy has become increasingly concerned with

discovering innovative ways to build local community cohesion. Their focus has been on

promoting civic interactions that build trust, understanding and a sense of place. This

paper brings together the concepts of ‘micro-publics’ (Amin, 2002) and ‘open public

arenas’ (Healey, 1996) to suggest that urban farms are one type of institution that can

serve this purpose. The case study of Hackney City Farm, in the socio-culturally diverse

borough of Hackney, is used to show how urban farming has the potential to bring varied

groups together and allow cohesion to be formed. Furthermore it shows that the cohesion

built on urban farms has the potential to be inclusive of the broader community.

Payne 2010  3 
Chapter 1: Introduction
Urban farming is becoming a more popular topic, as sustainability, local food production,
and climate change become more critical social concerns. In recent years there has been
an increasing interest in city farms and urban agriculture (UA) world wide, especially in
large urban areas such as London. Since 2000 the number of urban farms (UF) in
London has gone from 7 to 15 (Garnett, 2005). Most often we hear these institutions
discussed with respect to increasing local food production (Mougeot, 2006, 2010) or
improving the economic outlook or environmental sustainability of local communities
(Garnett, 1996; Travaline and Hundolt, 2010). Although recent studies have pointed to
the ability of other forms of UA to serve as community building sites (for example
Thompson et al., 2007; Schukoske, 2000) their works require further investigation, and
there is a dearth of research specifically on urban farming at this point.

Concurrently, there has been a growing focus by governments on community cohesion

and solidarity. London, and many other cities world over, are becoming progressively
more diverse, increasingly identifying excluded and deprived populations and
encountering difficulty in socializing these populations. They are experiencing what
Forrest and Kearns (2001) have called a “crisis of social cohesion,” brought on by a
decrease in social interaction within local areas. The UK government has been
increasingly concerned with social cohesion as the lack thereof has been directly tied to
social disorder and urban conflict in recent years (e.g. the 2001 mill-town riots).
Traditionally, more deprived communities appear to lack cohesion with larger society.
Local communities that are cohesive are traditionally more successful. Ferlander and
Timms found that a requisite of cohesion was that participation extended “across the
confines of local communities, knitting them together into a wider whole” (in Cantle,
2001, p.70). Tight-knit communities that lack ties to other groups within local areas
create divided neighborhoods, increase the potential for tension and disrupt overarching
societal cohesion (Forrest and Kearns, 2001). This has led to the search for institutions
that can bring together diverse communities and engender cohesion across communities.

Payne 2010  4 
Given the various calls for creation of cohesive communities (DCLG 2008, CIC 2007),
UFs are of interest because of their potential as increasingly prominent urban features, to
aid in building cohesion. This essay holds that UFs constitute a blend of Healey’ (1996)
‘open public arena’ and Amin’s (2002) ‘micro-publics’ of ‘cultural transgression’ and
‘prosaic negotiation.’ These are institutions with the potential to bring diverse actors
together and allow them to collaborate across their differences, where interactions allow
the formation of a common understanding and tolerance and engender feelings of
belonging in local communities. In order for interactions to successfully build cohesion,
these spaces must be inclusionary. They must have low barriers to entry and the skills
necessary to interact cannot be based on traits belonging to any specific socio-cultural
group – entry and interaction must take place on an equal playing field. This study shows
that UFs, under the right conditions, constitute the type of institution that fosters
community cohesion. Previous research has shown the potential for cohesion within
small groups to be exclusionary (Putnam, 2000). Without interaction from the broader
community, only a small sub-group experience the benefits of cohesion, however UFs
show the ability to spread cohesion outside their institutional bounds.

The case study of Hackney City Farm in Hackney, one of the most diverse boroughs in
London, will be used to show that UFs, as prominent institutes of UA, have the potential
to foster cohesion through the interaction of diverse groups. Furthermore it shows the
potential, through local outreach, for the cohesion built on UFs to be inclusive of the
broader community.

In the first section the rise of the community cohesion agenda is explored and the keys to
cohesion formation are outlined. Institutions that have the possibility to foster cohesions
growth are suggested, with specific attention to Healey’s (1996) ‘open public arenas’ and
Amin’s (2002) ‘micro-publics.’ Next follows an explanation of UA and a review of
current studies detailing the potential these institutions have shown, under the correct
circumstances, for forming cohesion. Afterwards the case of Hackney City Farm is
presented to show that UFs have the characteristics of ‘open arenas’ - low barriers to
entry, inclusion of and interaction between a multiplicity of social groups, and the ability
to promote the development of a sense of belonging. Finally, recommendations are made
Payne 2010  5 
regarding how the cohesion forming potential of urban farms could be improved and
issues identified in this case overcome, followed by suggestions for future research that
would provide a better understanding of how these two urban issues inter-mingle.

Chapter 2:Literature Review

Modern ‘Crisis in Cohesion’
While much research has been completed surrounding community cohesion, there is no
universal definition. In the UK the term is used relatively informally and its definition
has also been used to frame the aspects of communities that must receive attention to
build cohesion. “Our Shared Future” (CIC, 2007) and Forrest and Kearns (2001) have
defined cohesive communities in similar terms (See Appendix F), as local areas with:
• A shared sense of the contribution of different individuals and communities to
the area’s future vision
• A strong local sense of personal rights and responsibilities
• Similar life opportunities and treatment for individuals from different
• A strong sense of trust in local institutions to fairly arbitrate between different
• A strong recognition of contributions from newly arrived residents and those
with deep native attachments
• Strong relationships between people from different backgrounds within local

At its core, cohesion is based on the quality, structure and frequency of local social
interactions between diverse individuals. In cohesive communities all individuals “fit in
and contribute to society’s collective project…and conflict between societal goals and
groups [is] minimalized” (Kearns and Forrest, 2000, p.966). Rather than individuals
agreeing on an overarching set of societal values, cohesion is about learning to interrelate
at the ‘mundane’ level of daily life (Forrest and Kearns, 2001).

Academics have expounded upon the modern ‘crisis in social cohesion’ (Forrest &
Kearns, 2001) and the ‘great disruption’ in social values and order (Fukuyama, 1999).
The focus in the UK arose after the 2001 mill-town riots, with a consequent report
highlighting “the fracturing of local communities and perceived existence of ‘parallel
lives,’ whereby citizens were seen to live, work and socialize separately” (Robinson,

Payne 2010  6 
2004, p.1411). Cities have become places wherein a diversity of socio-economic relations
co-exist, connecting people across time and space, but not necessarily to others within the
same geographic area (Healey, 1996). The struggle to reconcile differing values between
relational networks, alongside the ‘dissolution of shared identities,’ (Castells, 1997) has
heightened tensions. Current social structures have led to the exclusion of some groups,
meaning that some individuals are so disadvantaged they cannot meaningfully participate
in society (Cantle, 2008). Areas with low cohesion often experience more deprivation.
People who are forced into competition for scarce resources peruse less inter-group
interactions, undermining their ability to form social capital – trust and strong social
networks – with others (Laurence, 2009). As a result, people feel disconnected from the
places they inhabit and experience heightened perceptions of powerlessness and distrust.

The purpose of creating community cohesion is to restore local social order through
increased interaction. The UK government is largely concerned with building ties across
different demographically defined communities within local areas. Local arenas are seen
as pertinent for addressing cohesion, as deprivation is often concentrated in specific

Fostering Cohesion through Interaction

The Commission for Integration and Cohesion (CIC) (2007) concentrated on interaction
as key to formation of cohesion, centering on three concepts: civility, social capital and
meaningful contact. The strange-ness of others is removed and weak ties are formed
through a process of getting to know each other through prosaic interactions in public
spaces. Civility is about tolerance and hospitality during these interactions (Ibid.).
Neighborhood arenas are potential sites for many of these mundane maintenance and
normalization’ activities (Forrest and Kearns, 2001), heightening the importance of local

The strength of social networks in a local area - community social capital -is another
important aspect of cohesion. Bridging social capital is key (CIC, 2007), as it involves
positive interactions and the formation of mutually beneficial, “weak ties across various
lines of social cleavage” (Putnam, 2004, p.3). Fukuyama (1999) largely attributes the

Payne 2010  7 
current ‘disruption’ in social order to the ‘miniaturization’ of community and morality.
Individuals in modern urban society are interacting with smaller, typically homogeneous
groups. This strengthens networks between people of similar social identities, what
Putnam (2000) calls bonding. While this can lead to improvement within specific
communities, it can also potentially cause the exclusion of ‘outsiders’ (Portes and
Landolt, 1996). Exclusiveness and segregation were highlighted as problems in Cantle’s
2001 report following the mill-town riots. Strong inward-looking communities can be
detrimental to overall societal cohesion as there are often tensions between disparate
bonded communities. Therefore, the institutions that local governments promote must be
inclusive and foster interactions involving a broad scope of the community.

To form cohesion, interactions between individuals must be meaningful - involving

personal exchanges of information and shared common goals. Activities must be
catalysts for the formation of interpersonal connections (Etzioni, 1993), as this has been
shown to break down stereotypes and prejudice. These interactions are most successful
when the purpose is not to directly foster bonds, but rather some other form of
community enhancement that promotes interrelation (Ibid.), wherein social ties and
networks develop as by-products. Furthermore, interactions must endure over the long
run, with a certain regularity, intensity and scope to be successful in building trust.
Routine interaction across social groups allows people to revise their impressions of other
individuals they are in contact with, and the groups those individuals belong to (CIC,

The CIC’s (2007) report suggested four spheres where cohesion forming interactions
would be most successful, of which cultural institutions and shared public spaces are
important for the focus of this paper. Academics (Putnam, 2000; Forrest and Kearns,
1999; Etzioni, 1993) have highlighted the need for increased civic and voluntary action to
bolster social health. Public spaces present opportunities for interaction and participation
in communal activities, wherein fellowship is nurtured in open settings that bring
together diverse communities. The repetition of these interactions turns public spaces
into 'vessels of positive communal meaning.’ (Carr et al. in Amin, 2008, p.1) Social
organizations are important for the functioning of society because they shape and

Payne 2010  8 
constrain social context and foster ‘embedded-ness’ - concrete personal relations and
networks of relations that generate trust and norms. (Coleman, 1988) However, public
spaces – now plural and distributed - cannot fulfill their traditional role as prime sites of
civic interaction and indoctrination (Amin, 2008). There is no guarantee that the
meaningful interaction necessary to breed cohesion will take place within them. Places
where a more significant interaction or conversation can take place are necessary.

‘Open Public Arenas’ & ‘Micro-publics’

Amin (2005) recognizes that active citizenship is the foundation of both dynamic
democracy and cohesiveness. It should constitute public participation in an active public
sphere, where consensus is developed through ‘agonistic engagement’ between equally
valued citizens (Ibid.). Healey’s (1996) framework for ‘open public arenas’ - places of
participatory democracy - explicates the type of informal public realms where this
‘inclusionary argumentation’ can take place, allowing the redefinition of discourses and
empowering people to shape their local areas. A requisite of these institutions is open
accessibility – there can be no barriers to entry and terms of engagement cannot be
affected by social identity. Individuals must feel comfortable and easily understand how
to interact in these spaces. Interactions must take place in a manner that recognizes the
diverse methods that individuals have of knowing, valuing and assigning meaning
(Healey, 1996, 1997) and all contributions must be respected.

Amin’s (2002) work on ‘micro-publics’ of ‘cultural transgression’ and ‘prosaic

negotiation’ showed that the key to cultural change lay in the terms of engagement and
daily negotiations of difference - the “micro-politics of everyday social encounters” (Ibid,
p.959). Interactions are a process of learning how to collaborate and ‘be’ together.
Cohesion is based on small practical accommodations that work around difference, rather
than overt attempts to change individuals’ identities or practices. The summary of these
interactions between various groups in different micro-situations forms conceptions of
social class and society (Collins, 1981). The ‘micro-publics’ where these interactions
take place and the terms of engagement within them are paramount to reconciling cultural

Payne 2010  9 
According to Healey (1996), to be effectual, interactions need to be based in passionate
‘agonistic’ argumentation, which leads to understanding and the construction of new
relationships across differences. However, she recognizes that general communication
between individuals and the collaborative work it involves allows construction of new
discourses, which shape peoples’ opinions, values and attachment to others (Ibid.). This
paper posits that interactions do not need to be impassioned to foster cohesion; they need
only take place in arenas where people interact on their own terms, where repeated
interaction allows formation of new relationships. Culture is embodied in social exchange
(Healey, 1999; Werbner, 2005). Interactions normalize us to the meanings of status’ and
relationships, over time they recreate peoples understanding of social structures and
places (Collins, 1981). Therefore, every interaction is a chance to reform social relations
and form cohesion. Engagement in conversations is about the interaction, which conveys
trust and accepted membership and becomes a symbol of group solidarity.

The disruption of stereotypes and development of cohesion takes place when people step
out of their daily routines into “other everyday spaces that function as sites of
unnoticeable cultural questioning” – sites of ‘cultural transgression’ (Amin, 2002, p.969).
Contact is necessary (CIC, 2007), but not sufficient for creating understanding.
Individuals must have the opportunity to break with pre-set notions - to learn to behave
and think differently. If institutions are to be successful in fostering cohesion, individuals
must be brought together around common activity that initiates new patterns of social
interaction and prevents the labeling of the stranger as an enemy. These are places that
require collaboration, where excellence draws upon talents and skills that are not
confined to any one social identity (Amin, 2002).

It essential that any institutions used to foster cohesion includes all the diverse groups
within any community. Local ‘public arenas’ are often controlled by a single group and
lack involvement representative of the entire community (Amin, 2002). Furthermore,
they can easily be co-opted by more established groups if the terms of engagement are
not easily understood (Healey, 1996). Any opportunity for diverse inter-relation, and
therefore cohesion building, is removed if institutions are segregated from the start.
Therefore, we must search for sites that remain un-segregated and inclusive, otherwise

Payne 2010  10 
we risk promoting bonding within existent communities, which has been previously
connected to disruptions of community cohesion (Cantle, 2006).

The UK government recognized the need to redoubled efforts to increase interaction

across many spheres, and has called upon local authorities to be innovative in addressing
problems of cohesion, as responses must make sense for each local area. Safe and well
managed shared places are important for encouraging interaction, and creating
opportunities for people to pursue collective activities (CIC, 2007). Therefore, the
government recommended councils investigate different inclusive institutions -
highlighting the prospects presented by local leisure and cultural facilities, and the
particular opportunities they afford for bringing together people with diverse identities
around a shared goal.

Both Amin (2002) and Healey (1996) suggest we look to local arenas where “prosaic
negotiations’ are obligatory- educational facilities, workplaces, or other sites of
negotiation that already attract broad cross-sections of the population. Engagement
within these ‘micro-publics’ empowers actors and inculcates a sense of common fate.
They have the specific potential to foster cohesion because interaction within them is
meaningful and the success of endeavors is dependant upon collaboration. Fostering
cohesion necessitates institutions that function in a similar manner - places that are easily
accessible, in which reoccurring interaction allows the cultivation of trust, negotiation of
differences and the creation of a sense of belonging. Furthermore these places must have
the appeal and ability to involve diverse local groups. This paper suggests urban farms
may serve as this type of institution.

Urban Farming: Background Literature

Urban Agricultural (UA) institutions have seen a growing interest worldwide with a focus
on food security, education and sustainability. Prominent figures - Jamie Oliver, Prince
Charles, II and the Obama’s - have endorsed community gardens and urban farms.
Organizations like Growing Power in the U.S., which aim to tackle food poverty in
deprived areas, have grown rapidly. The London Mayor’s office has endorsed “Capital
Growth,” a project to increase food-growing spaces by 2012 and Detroit investors have

Payne 2010  11 
funded the conversion of 20,000 acres of vacant land into farmland to revitalize the city.
However, few of these projects specifically link-up with the cohesion agenda. The
increasing prominence of UA heightens our need to explore this angle so that it can be
taken advantage of with its rise.

UA can be defined shortly as the raising of plants and livestock within and around cities,
largely for the supply of the surrounding area. (Mougeot, 2005) It takes place on private,
semi-public and public lands (RAUF, 2010) and can include a number of different sites:
rooftops, community and school gardens, allotments, and urban farms (Howe &
Wheeler, 1999).

The majority of research to date has concentrated on UA’s potential to increase food
security (see Mougeot 2005; Rees, 1997) or contribute economically to local areas (see
Milburn and Vail, 2010), especially in the global south. Due to limitations of space the
following discussion will focus on studies of the developed world. In the UK, UA has a
broader definition, covering activities that promote food growth and enhance
sustainability, including: activities that build social cohesion, promote environmental
goals or allow urban populations to experience different ‘natures’ from which they have
become separated (Mbiba, 2003; Smit and Bailkey, 2006).

There has been a decline in the provision of these spaces since WWII, largely due to the
steady advance of urbanization (Deelstra and Girardet, 2005). Many UA spaces no
longer provide much food to the surrounding urban areas (Garnett; 1999, 2005), and this
has led some to question what purpose these spaces fulfill. In London most urban farms
highlight education benefits and sustainability; however, UFs possess many
characteristics that increase their potential to foster cohesion. This paper chooses to
focus on UFs as the multiplicity of activities that take place within these institutions
allows them to attract a broader swath of communities and interests. However, this
review will rely on a broad range of studies on UA, as there is a lack of research
specifically addressing urban farms.

Payne 2010  12 
Diversity of Users
In order to build community cohesion institutions must attract and engage a diversity of
local users. Research illustrates the potential for broad community interaction in UA;
urban food growing initiatives in the UK engage around 10 per cent of the population
(Iles, 2005), with over 15,000 volunteers and more than 3 million visitors each year
(FCFCG, 2010b). The Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens (FCFCG) note
that UA is a “valuable tool for bringing people together of different abilities, ages and
cultures” (2010b). Nemore’s (1998) research covering 756 community gardens in New
York has suggested that UA institutions may be the only amenity that draws together
such diverse groups, and Smit & Bailkey’s (2006) worldwide study of community based
urban agriculture (CBUA) found it to be “a successful model for the inclusion of different
urban sub-communities into an intentional organization” (p.1). However inclusion may
be reliant on a number of factors such as actual access, income, and interest.

Some contention surrounds UA and organic/ ‘slow’ food movements. They are often
conceived of as exclusive – representing the specific interests and consumer needs of the
urban elite (Donald & Blay-Palmer, 2006). In this view UA functions as a form of
gentrification. Individuals with higher socio-economic status often determine the
location of these spaces (Domene and Saurí, 2007) and Garnett (2001) found a higher
incidence of individuals from upper-income brackets involved in UA. Furthermore,
although many social groups seem to enjoy gardening, it represents a single interest,
which can limit the appeal of UA institutions. Conversely, UFs can potentially attract a
wider range of users as they have more flexibility and can adapt to address the changing
needs of local communities (Iles, 2005). They present explicit opportunities for
engagement of disadvantaged groups through targeted programming, a variety of courses
and their use as educational and community centers.

Access and Barriers to Entry

People must feel comfortable interacting in institutions if they are to build cohesion and
institutions must be easily accessible to successfully garner participation (Healey, 1996).
UA requires no skills particular to any one social group and the skills needed to
participate are easily taught. Participation, it seems, is only limited by individual interest

Payne 2010  13 
(baring age extremes and certain disabilities), although success is often dependant on a
certain level of proficiency.

However, UA activities often require extensive time commitments to set up and maintain
and a certain amount of political clout to obtain land, permissions and grants (Smit and
Bailkey, 2006). Costs are another potential deterrent as start-up and maintenance
expenses can be difficult to cover, especially for deprived communities with limited
funding and potentially steep competition for resources. Accessing allotments can also
prove difficult. Their provision has decreased in London since the 1950’s (Allotment
Vegetable Growing, n.d.); currently, only 124 plots remain in Hackney (Hackney
Council, 2008a) and most have waiting lists of over a year (Garnett, 1999). UFs are
potentially more accessible, as many are charities - access is free and it is not necessary
to apply to local authorities for use (Iles, 2005). However, access may be limited by
personal proximity or knowledge of their presence.

Cohesion Through Inclusive Interaction

Little research exists specifically concerning the ability of UFs to promote cohesion,
however studies of other forms of UA have shown its potential, under the right
conditions, to foster inclusive interaction. UA’s contribution to the social networks of
cities is highlighted by the FCFCG (2010a) and the American Community Gardening
Association’s (2010), whose goals both include enhancing the quality of individuals lives
by acting as catalysts for community development, encouraging self-reliance, stimulating
social interaction, and providing opportunities for recreation and education.

Institutions of UA are place-based forms of grassroots community development, (Smit

and Bailkey, 2006) whose’ specific social organization can strengthen communities by
building community capital and encouraging social participation. When accessibility
extends to marginalized and isolated sub-groups, UA can provide them a means of
extending their networks and influencing their surroundings (Domene and Saurí, 2007;
Iles, 2005). Thompson et al.’s (2007) study of community gardens in Sydney found
increases in inter-group socialization within the ‘public sphere.’ New discourses were
developed as neighbors taught one another and collaborated on the performance of

Payne 2010  14 
communal tasks. However, intermingling of disparate groups does not always occur.
UA activities often reflect the demographic make-up of surrounding areas (Saldivar-
Tanaka and Krasny, 2004). As many neighborhoods are segregated, interaction may lead
to strengthening of existent social networks, not connections across communities.

Furthermore, not all interactions within UA institutions are constructive and civil. There
can be difficulties in communication, tensions caused by individuals refusing to interact
with others (Thompson et al., 2007), and conflicts with surrounding communities
regarding the desirability of these spaces (Domene and Saurí (2007). While UA
institutions present solutions under the right conditions, they are not panaceas and are
often subject to the same tensions found in other voluntary institutions.

A Sense of Place and Pride

Under the right circumstances, UA offers local communities the possibility of
involvement in a joint effort – a way “to take an interest in and to shape its own future”
(Iles, 2005), factors important in strengthening community cohesion (CIC, 2007). By
presenting residents with areas to congregate and identify together as members of a
neighborhood, UA can help people to recognize their local area as unique and imbibed
with value (Garnett, 1996) The daily routine of attending to plots can improve feelings of
belonging in the community, foster pride and create opportunities for empowerment in
the disenfranchised - especially in areas with high joblessness (Iles, 2005). In institutions
with high volunteer participation feelings of accomplishment often stem from the
knowledge that without the significant manpower supplied by community members these
places might not survive (Mbiba, 2003). However, all these factors hinge on the actual
community participation. UA projects cannot provide opportunities to build community
cohesion without sustained interaction and commitment from local residents.

Many UA institutions state “a commitment to supporting those most in need in

surrounding communities” (Iles, 2005, p.84). However, achieving this goal is limited by
an institutions capacity to involve users from across the community. The visibility and
unique ‘natural’ form of these institutions can attract local attention, potentially
encouraging “conversations and the opportunity to break down barriers and stereotypes

Payne 2010  15 
between strangers and generations” (Thompson et al., 2007, p.168). The benefits UA
institutions offer have the potential to spread beyond the immediate participants into the
wider community, in the form of both physical and social improvements. However, it is
rare for much of the solidarity and tolerance built within UA endeavors to spread outside
these institutions at a meaningful level, especially during their early stages (Kingsley and
Townsend, 2006). Generally the cohesion built is limited to participants, and often the
more active members, as is the case of many voluntary institutions. While respondents in
Australian studies (Kingsley and Townsend, 2006; Thompson et al., 2007) felt that
mutual care for the spaces led to a sense of community in areas characterized by a lack of
trust, broader research is necessary to investigate whether the findings of these specific
cases are valid.

In the next section the specific research findings on Hackney City Farm will be
examined. A brief context of the farm will be given before discussing its ability to foster
inclusive community cohesion.

Chapter 3: Case Study

Hackney City Farm
Hackney City Farm (HCF) lies on the Southeast corner of Haggerston Park. (See
Appendix I) The physical characteristics of the farm provide many opportunities for
community interaction in an inviting and accessible environment, traits highlighted by
Healey (1996) as necessary for institutions to serve as ‘open public arenas.’ There are
two large gardening areas -an enclosed horticultural side garden with picnicking areas
and an expansive front garden, containing planting beds and hot houses - where most
volunteer work takes place and over 50,000 visitors wander yearly. The main yard
contains various animal stalls, a communal area where staff and volunteers meet for post-
session tea, and a brightly painted trailer, which serves as an alternative education
classroom. An old brick factory building houses Frizzante Café, the staff office, and
gathering rooms. There is also a straw bale room, built by volunteers and staff, which is
regularly used for residents meetings, community organizations (currently a choir and
Nappucinos) and various farm workshops.

Payne 2010  16 
HCF was started in 1984 when a local woman rallied residents in direct response to the
needs of the surrounding community. As the Educational and Volunteer Manager
describes it:

“It started as a cohesion project. People said, ‘look at the urban

environment we’re living in, we’re bringing up a whole generation of
children that have no idea about food, …about anything because we’ve
all become so divorced from that.’ It’s a social project primarily.”
(Interview Sayle, originally in Payne, 2010, p.13)

It is still driven by the community today. The majority of the staff and board of trustees
are local residents who keep the community’s needs at the forefront of the operation by
“working with the community, as a microcosm of the community… and canvassing lots
of opinions before [they] make decisions.” (Interview Pounds) The farm is a charity (No:
291211) whose chief goal is:

“To improve the quality of life for inner city people, especially those in
neighborhoods and communities surrounding Hackney City Farm, by
addressing social, economic and environmental issues and providing
appropriate and much needed educational, health… and recreational
opportunities, within a framework of city farming... Bringing together
disparate communities in areas surrounding the Farm around the issues
of improving the quality of their lives and their environment.” (Pounds,
2007, p. 7)

The site was derelict brownfield land until the 1980’s when HCF negotiated a hundred
year ‘peppercorn’ lease from Hackney Council. The long-term lease lends the farm some
security against increasing development pressures -
security that many other forms of UA do not have.
This increases its chances for long-term viability and
sustained interactions within the community.
Longevity of relationships increases opportunities for
developing trust and understanding and thus cohesion

Payne 2010  17 
(Cantle, 2008). Furthermore, it reunites deprived populations with ‘natural’ space that
they might not normally have access to, contributing to community cohesion by
increasing environmental justice.

Social Context of Hackney

HCF’s location is a primary entry point for understanding it’s value as a cohesion
building institution. Hackney is consistently among the most deprived boroughs in
England, ranking second highest in 2007 (See Appendix G). It has higher crime and
unemployment rates, and higher percentages of benefit claimants and residents without
qualifications than London (see Appendix H). Furthermore, it is among the most
ethnically differentiated boroughs and has high rates of mental and ability related
disorders, contributing to the diversity of its residents. (Hackney Council, 2008b)
Traditionally a working class area, residents have consistently lower average incomes
than Londoners and the highest percentage of residents living in council housing in the
city. Many neighborhoods are now gentrifying and housing prices have risen 134% in the
last 10 years (Hackney Council 2006; Nationwide, 2010). This has caused rising tension,
especially among residents around Broadway Market and London Fields. All these
factors have the potential to increase social fissions and inhibit formation of cohesion.
The council has recognized the work necessary to maintain and improve cross-
community relations and increase opportunities across populations, calling attention to
the need for local institutions that can foster inclusive participation to assist in achieving
the aforementioned goals. (Hackney Council, 2008b)

Using primarily qualitative methods - participant observation and in-depth interviews -
and a review of farm documents and demographic data this research aims to gain an
understanding of whether Hackney City Farms, as an example of an ‘open public
arena’/‘micro-public,’ facilitates interactions across diverse communities from the
surrounding area, thereby contributing to cohesion. Furthermore, it aims to discover if
the cohesion built in these interactions was inclusive of the broader community and all
user groups, or whether it is limited to a particular sub-group with specific interests. The
farm business plan and demographic data were explored to gain an initial layout of HCFs

Payne 2010  18 
goals, stakeholders groups, modes of participation and interaction, and accessibility. This
was followed by an ethnographic study carried out through personal visits and
volunteering on the farm from October 2009 to August 2010.

Interviews were conducted on-site and took place during regular work hours, voluntary
sessions, or during “tea time” where volunteers mingle with other users and staff for post-
work refreshments. A semi-structured interview process was used for all interviewees,
with staff interviews being tapered towards their particular programs/ unique positions at
the farm. Data was then transcribed and analysed around major themes: Ease of
participating and accessing the farm/ programs, interactions levels between individuals
within and across groups, changes in perceptions of others, feelings of belonging and
identification of the farm as a community. (For sample staff and volunteer interview
schedules see appendix B.)

Due to the vulnerable status of many of the stakeholder groups at HCF (minors, the
disabled, ex-offenders) research draws heavily on the responses of institutional
interviewees. Preliminary interviews with two staff members in February 2010 were
followed by in-depth interviews of ten current members of farm staff - full time, contract
and staff responsible for delivering programs run in conjunction with outside agencies.
(See appendix D for programs). Their in-depth knowledge of HCF, individual programs
and specific users groups, their understanding of farm and program goals, as well as
personal experiences and perceptions of interactions were used to develop a robust
understanding of the farms status as an open public arena and the cohesion formed

HCF does not collect any data on drop -in visitors; therefore, this stakeholder group was
not interviewed, as there was no way to guarantee accuracy in sample selection. Instead
staff interviews included questions pertaining to visitor use of the farm and were used to
understand the participation and interaction of the broader community, and to provide
insight into non-represented stakeholders groups.

Payne 2010  19 
In order to enhance and verify the above data, nine additional volunteer interviews were
conducted over the same time period. Interviewees were participants who had been
working with or regularly visiting the farm (for paid classes or regular drop-in visits) for
between 3 months and 10 years. Furthermore, non-recorded conversations during work
sessions and the researchers personal observations were also taken into account.

Chapter 4: Findings & discussion

Social Identities and Diversity
A pre-requisite of cohesion building is that institutions bring together a diversity of
individuals representative of the surrounding communities. HCF is comprised of a
multiplicity of diverse stakeholder groups from the local area interacting in different
arrangements. Currently there are 14 members of full time, contracted or independent
program staff and 15 - 20 regular volunteers, plus a plethora of visitors and program-
based users. There is significant diversity in the range of ages (from 17 to 62 age,
excluding mini-farmers and work-experience students), socio-economic backgrounds,
abilities (mental, physical and learning), genders and educational qualification. The
intra-group diversity varied and not all groups work together at all times - often due to
issues of legality and vulnerability – somewhat constraining the formation of cohesion
between specific groups. However, there is generally a good deal of intergroup
socialization and collaboration on large projects, as HCFs Manager describes it:

“What I quite like about the gardening volunteer groups is that there are
people like Savas (a learning disabled, mute volunteer) working
alongside someone else…and there is this interaction going on within
the group [that] provides a microcosm of real life.” (Interview Pounds)

While the majority of the respondents were ‘white-British’, it was felt that visitor
demographics much more accurately reflected the ethnic demographics of the area
(Interview Sayle). Personal observations illustrated a wide range of backgrounds
regularly visiting HCF or partaking in various activities. Furthermore, many estates in
the surrounding area remain predominantly white working-class. Many viewed the
prevalence of ‘old east enders’ as beneficial:

Payne 2010  20 
“We have a big mass of stored latent knowledge about the immediate
area. Some of our regular volunteers are really locals. There are things
you only know if you’ve lived here your whole life - like how you get to
speak to particular estates or particular citizens… [If we] get all the
accumulated knowledge pulled together, make it a resource…we can
ultimately return the benefit to the community” (Interview Montes de

The ability to draw on local social capital is essential to the formation of cohesive
communities. While fostering cohesion necessitates involvement of multiple
communities from any area, it is important that those involved be representative of local
demographics, which is evident at HCF. Furthermore, creating cohesion is about
bringing together individuals who view themselves as different. Both Cantle (2008) and
‘Our Shared Future” (CIC, 2007) expounded on the need to move beyond
multiculturalism in forming community cohesion. At HCF daily planting and
construction activities provided opportunities for interaction across lines of class, age and
ability, if not always ethnicity. Many respondents felt that being on the farm brought
them in contact with those inherently different than themselves:

“I interact with people differently to what I’m used to…all the people
I’ve grown up with are east London people. These people are nice-lier
spoken, nicely well to do and it’s different… I met new people. It feels
fantastic.” (Interview Sykes)

“Volunteering took me out of my comfort zone… brought me closer to a

lot of people who I probably never would have met… When you hang
out in bars…it’s not like going to HCF and meeting people there, it’s so
different… Generally you’re on a level playing field,… there’s no
hierarchy… [The farm] is very hands off and relaxed with that whole
approach… Everyone is a bit more about fairness, it’s really just a
family oriented workspace.”(Interview Vigrass)

HCF provides an environment where people can work side by side and transgress their
normal roles. Through the sustained repetition of interaction during volunteer sessions,
attendees became more tolerant and comfortable with others. They begin to share and
relate to one another across their differences. The provision of a space that fosters these
interactions illustrates HCFs function as a realm of ‘cultural transgression’ (Amin, 2002)
- paramount for development of cohesion.
Payne 2010  21 
Furthermore, HCF runs an abundance of programs (see Appendix D), which bring in a
much greater mix of users (refugees/ asylum seekers, excluded students, etc.). Staff
viewed the programs as important for encouraging broader participation, allowing them
to purposefully target specific groups and service diverse users. The additional flexibility
provided by HCFs programming sets them apart from other forms of UA. However, it
can be problematic if funding is low, as a lack of funding means deciding between
programs, or being unable to start programs in areas of identified need. This is worthy of
note if UF institutions are to be used to foster cohesion, as the specific mix of programs
available at any institution will largely dictate the different groups interacting.

HCF as an ‘Open public Arena”

HCF’s goal is to “offer a service across the community for whoever wants to come… [To
be] organic and [get] people to interact.” (Interview Pounds) Its location, near numerous
public transportation links and in walking distance for many of its users, makes it easily
available to the public. Numerous respondents mentioned choosing HCF because of its
proximity to their homes. Volunteering is simple and informal - a short form is completed
for legal and funding purposes and no previous gardening/farming knowledge is
necessary. Staff stress that all sessions are ‘learn as you go’ and multiple volunteers
mentioned being inexperienced, but feeling un-intimidated because of the staffs easy-
going attitude. Furthermore, respondents highlighted the farm’s ‘open door’ policy-
allowing locals to stop by anytime- and volunteers mentioned the ease they felt ‘popping-
in’ for support or socialization. Staff oft described HCF’s ease of accessibility:

“If 100% of the public can’t get [in], then [the farm] shouldn’t be open.
That’s [what] makes discrimination… I can’t dictate who comes through
those gates…[but] I want to ensure we’re open to whoever wants to
come in, and I want that to be free across the board… I want people to
be able to access to the things we’re doing…or to support” (Interview

“I see [the farm] as part of the community, … it’s for everybody that’s
local… It’s an inclusive place for everyone to come and…I hope they
see as that… [We] did a bunch of questionnaires about how important
visitors feel it is in the community and it all came back positive.”
(Interview Macgregor)

Payne 2010  22 
HCF is open year round to the general public and the majority of activities – visits,
volunteer sessions, work experience and workshops – are unpaid. (Some gardening and
LILI courses have fees.) Unlike allotments or other forms of CBUA, using the farm
requires no waiting lists or political negotiations for users. Thus, HCF avoids many of
the problems previously mentioned in UA studies (Mbiba, 2003; Smit and Bailkey,
2006). To foster cohesion and constitute ‘open public arenas’ and ‘micropublics,’
institutions must be fully accessible to the community, skills needed to participate can not
be limited to one specific group and people must feel comfortable interacting (Healey,
1996; Amin 2002) - these stipulations are largely fulfilled by HCF.

Barriers To Entry
While no formal barriers exist at the farm, there are a number of factors which surfaced
during interviews that had the potential to constrain participation: limited local
knowledge of HCF and it’s programs, differentiated interests across populations, and the
presence of the café. While none of these substantially limited interactions, they are
worth acknowledging so that potential limitations to interaction on UF can be addressed.

HCF is relatively well marked, however a number of respondents mentioned they hadn’t
specifically noticed HCF for many years. Locals did not always recognize the farm as a
community resource or were unaware of programs and how to take advantage of them -
as described one volunteers:

“It’s difficult, if you’re in that cycle - poverty and community housing -

to find. If there was a community centre that promoted it, then maybe
more people would come around…. I think if you canvassed people and
asked if they knew about the farm [and] you asked local kids, then no…
It doesn’t enter their radar. At the Job centre, I never saw it listed… It
was confusing for me to know what was going on. The activities that
are really positive are hard to find… you only have the notice board in
the café… so if you don’t pass through there you don’t know about all
these other things.” (Interview Vigrass)

While research showed considerable participation by residents from the surrounding area,
knowledge of the farm tended to be based on ‘word of mouth,’ potentially attracting

Payne 2010  23 
individuals who belong to similar social circles. Due to financial constraints, the farm
does little advertising and the specific lack of foreign language publicity was noted as a
possible reason for lower levels of ethnic minority participation.

Participation is based on individual preferences for specific activities, interest in

volunteering, and the propensity to take advantage of resources. Different local
populations seemed to show varying levels of interest in HCF. It was felt that, more than
other local populations; it was the “nature of the middle class to take advantage of what’s
available” (Interview Brooks). There was concern that outreach projects might be
“flooded by the middle class, who have the time, the money…and [more interest] in
growing their own vegetables” (Interview Sayle). This concern was noted in previous UA
studies (Garnett, 2001; Domene and Saurí, 2007), which reported upper-income
populations showing more interest or overshadow participation in UA.

Some respondents felt that ‘ethnic communities’ might prefer other farms, (Spitalfields or
Stepney City Farms - See appendix E) because they offered activities geared specifically
towards East Asian interests. One volunteer noted this preference:

“[Most often] volunteering groups are white, middle class. In other

groups, …we tried to recruit people from other races. Gradually we saw
that Turkish groups, they have their own clubs, Bangladeshis, Afro-
Caribbean’s too…. Why would you go [elsewhere] when you can work
with your own community and it might be a lot easier language-wise…
Besides, do you want all your groups to be all homogenized? …I’d
rather have [everyone] doing whatever they do. Occasionally you bump
into them and it’s interesting… I like the idea that we’re all different.”

Cohesion should not be based in forced assimilation (Cantle, 2008); some separation
allows diversity to flourish, allowing individuals to maintain their cultural identity and
comfort-zone (Cantle, 2006). However, public spaces that are unmixed, pre-segregated,
or co-opted by more empowered population are unfavorable to formation of cohesion
(Amin, 2002; Healey, 1996). Diverse communities need to interact for cohesion to be
fostered and stereotypes redefined. While HCF’s programming allows them to target

Payne 2010  24 
specific groups – meeting a broader set of interests than many other UA institutions- this
doesn’t guarantee participation or interest across all population.

A final constraint on interaction was the predominant presence of Frizzante café, which
was seen as catering to the needs of the newer ‘gentrifier’ crowd and ‘pricing-out’ the
local ‘working class’ population. It was noted as a possible deterrent, as many locals did
not realize it was a separate enterprise. Conflicts based in class and duration of tenure
disrupt social order (CIC, 2008). As gentrification is currently causing tension around the
farm, the potential for socio-economic factors to dissuade use of HCF is problematic,
especially as it may limit the farms ability to reach deprived populations. However, HCF
has taken conscious steps to the maintain the institution’s ability to foster interactions
across class barriers: providing spaces for picnicking, encouraging participation in free
events, and reaching out to resident associations in nearby estates.

Furthermore, while the ‘café audience’ don’t need HCF “to provide them the resources to
discover nature,… there’s a cross- subsidization because they can afford to pay more.”
(Interview Montes de Oca) The revenue from the café’s rent augments HCFs ability to
continue to provide opportunities across the community. As the rent is direct income,
there are no stipulations attached, allowing the farm to respond to true community needs,
rather than the funding environment.

Cohesion Building
The voluntary sessions at HCF provide a backdrop for the formation of cohesion by
allowing diverse individuals to come together in a civil manner through the various joint
replanting, animal care and maintenance activities that keep the farm running. These
‘prosaic’ tasks put them at ease, allowing them feel comfortable talking and working with
dissimilar individuals:

“People with difficulties have more openness about it here…it’s a safe

environment, it’s comfortable. We’re working together; chatting about
nothing and gradually it comes up… People can interact here without
[their disabilities] being an issue…. Here they’re just an ordinary person.
You’re working together and at some point you notice they have some
sort of problem… Gently, you come to gradually understand more about
Payne 2010  25 
them…We all just get dumped in, figure it out as we go along.”
(Interview Backes)

Participants at HCF are removed from their daily habits and habitats. This
allows them to reconstruct their ways of relating to each other, as one KS4 tutor

“It’s a transforming experience… There’s an increased sense of self-

confidence and abilities to communicate and interact with people much
more broadly than they had before…. Even interacting with the same
people, it’s interacting differently… A lot of toughness, the front that
they need to put up where they live, gets dropped. They can put it aside
while they’re here…. They’re just relaxed and at ease.” (Interview

Repeated interactions have the ability to restructure social identities (Collins, 1981). HCF
provides for moments of “cultural transgression,” (Amin, 2002) allowing people to come
to know one another overtime, on their own terms. In the process it presents them with
the opportunity to redefine themselves and their stereotypes of others. This can be seen
in HCFs projects, which encourage people to renegotiate their opinions of others:

“You’ll get comments from older people, saying it’s fantastic to meet
the younger people… Quite often they haven’t got contact with younger
people. You find some racist attitudes… but those are tackled. Those
are challenged when they are meeting children from BME communities
and working alongside them… It’s incredibly rich, what culturally can
be exchanged and that both sides get something from it. It’s not one
side teaching the other side...it’s about acceptance, tolerance…It’s
citizenship, thinking about others in the community, being considerate.”
(Interview Baker)

Working on HCF requires that people try to understand where others are coming from. A
large part of this can be attributed to the tolerant attitude of the staff, which shape
interactions on the farm. The farm manager believes HCF “provides a microcosm of real
life” where prejudice can be challenged. Collaborative projects serve as learning
experiences that increased volunteers understanding of ‘different’ behaviors:

Payne 2010  26 
“I’m finding it interesting and quite challenging working here…partially
because of the mixture of people… I haven’t had much experience with
people with mental or learning disabilities. Some of their behavior… I
find challenging... But it’s been a bloody good lesson to me…. learning
to mix with people I wouldn’t normally mix with… That can’t be a bad
thing. I think that's really the basis of social cohesion, encouraging
people to mix with people they don’t normally feel comfortable and mix
with. (Interview #22 – Male volunteer)

Working together as a community allows understandings to be reached and better

relationships developed, increasing the community’s social capital. The repetition of
accepting interactions become embedded in HCFs institution fabric, turning it into a
vessels of positive communal meaning (Amin 2008), and allowing it to improve cohesion
over time.

Cohesive communities are places where individuals feel a sense of belonging and pride
(CIC, 2007). At the farm, sustained interaction and collaboration engenders the
development of bonds between individuals and with the institution:

“What we’ve got here is really good… people communicate with each
other. There is a sort of family feeling that you belong to something.
That’s important for people in the community…. [It gives them] a sense
of place… of empowerment,… of belonging. A sense that it belongs to
people… It’s a community within a community, and it’s the
community’s community as well.” (Interview Pounds)

Various respondents noted that the relationships they built at HCF gave them a sense of
‘belonging,’ of being a ‘part of a family,’ or feeling ties to neighborhoods where they
previously felt ‘disconnected,’ emotions which the CIC (2007) sees as definitive of
community cohesiveness. The farm provides of an environment where repeated face-to-
face interactions build long lasting connections:

“The relationship between the older and younger within the workshop
sessions is crucial. A sense of belonging and a sense of being rooted in
the community happens through the building of relationships. The fact
that we’ve been doing this project for 3 years with different groups from
the same school and … centre has meant it’s become imbedded in each
partner… because you have that ongoing sense. You’re building up a
Payne 2010  27 
base of understanding that can be transferred to new groups as they
come along” (Interview Baker)

This ‘embededness’- (Coleman, 1988) the duration of relationships and the networks they
foster – turns HCF into a symbol of community solidarity. Solidarity is also engendered
by feelings of accomplishment or contribution to communal goals (CIC, 2007).
Governments have focused on volunteerism and interactions in public space as inherent
to formation of cohesion because these activities make people feel like an integral part of
an area. This sense of contribution is apparent in HCF’s Community Payback ‘Clients’
(See Appendix D):

“This is a particularly good site because [the clients] sense that they give
value… The farm doesn’t have the people, power, or the money to do it,
so we make a difference… They are a part of something special… This
is a site that very few had any sense existed… it’s an awakening [to] a
new community site, that they…may not feel a part of, now they
suddenly know it… and feel comfortable here. ” (Interview #17 - CPP

Dedication and commitment to communal tasks engenders a sense of place within

communities (CIC, 2007). HCF runs on a very tight budget, without the labor of
volunteers the farm could not to function. Volunteers are aware that they are invaluable
to the farm, and it contributes to their sense of pride and accomplishment:

“It’s a fantastic feeling… helping and not taking anything back…. I love
this. I don’t get paid for it, I don’t want to… It makes you more
dedicated and committed.” (Interview Sykes)

The sense of contribution engendered by joint efforts towards a community-enhancing

endeavor contributes to HCFs community building capacity (Amin, 2002; Etzioni, 1993)
and to the cohesion of the area.

Cohesion and the Broader Community

There was strong evidence of the cohesion built within the farm, especially among staff
and volunteers, many of whom are locals who have been involved with the institution
long term. In this sense, the benefits go specifically to community members, as they are

Payne 2010  28 
the main participants. However, other encounters during visits or one-off workshop
attendance does not always breed the meaningful connections needed to engender trust or
allow for ‘cultural transgression.’ Similar to previous research on UA (Kingsley and
Townsend 2006) the cohesion built at HCF seems to be relatively limited to the groups
who interact most with, or within the farm. Although many note that the community
appreciate it as an improvement to the area and a natural escape from the intensity of the
city, the benefits of cohesion do not yet seem to reach broadly into the community.

However the farm is a visible piece of the physical landscape, and positive conversations
can often be overheard about the farm in the local area. Many volunteers mention
interacting with other locals in the surrounding area because they recognize them from
the farm, and this points to the possibility of overarching cohesion with the continuation
and expansion of these interactions. Respondents felt there was “a lot of reaching out and
bringing in of people… Especially with such small staff and volunteers they actually
lever a lot of community activities.” (Interviewee 322 – Male Volunteer) Furthermore,
there are a number of projects HCF has set up in order to increase their ties with the
surrounding community. Currently they are planning a Community Orchard in
Haggerston Park. The project would be funded and organized by the farm, with the idea
“It’ll be a grassroots thing, we’re trying to get really local. Not that we
don't want people from other places, but to make a flash point of change
and effect [local participation] needs to be quite concentrated… Our
hope is that it’ll contribute - create streets where people say hello...
Keep seeing each other and on that note will start to know each other”
(Interview Montes de Oca)

They hope the project will eventually be handed over and run by the community in order
to increase the local community capacity to shape their own area. Furthermore, as noted
by Forrest and Kearns (2001) by creating another space in the community where people
are socialized to one another through mundane, everyday interactions, they present yet
another opportunity for community cohesion to be fostered.

The farm also tries to bring its benefits to people where they are, predominantly on the
estates in surrounding neighborhoods. They are tying to put together a network and map
Payne 2010  29 
the social capital in the area with the aim of further benefiting the community through the
development of stronger relationships across people and institutions. They have a long-
term relationship with Hackney Homes and 4 years ago they began running a Green
Ambassador Program (Appendix D), aimed at:

“Bringing in people who want to act as ambassadors to their own

community [and] trying… to reach new communities, potentially
deprived communities... To get people who are at some level influential
in their area… They are also a way for [the farm] to learn the language
that resonates with local people and how we communicate with
people…” (Interview Montes de Oca)

This program provides a way for the farm to begin to form weak ties to the broader
community. While there is recognition that this program has not existed long enough to
completely create it’s desired effect, similar to problems noted by Kingsley and
Townsend (2006), the staff feels that with increased longevity, the program will build
more trust in the local estates.

These projects show ways that HCF attempts to bridge into the community and increase
their capacity create overarching community interaction. They are overcoming problems
noted in previous UA studies (Ibid., Thompson et al., 2007), as the benefits of the farm
don’t remain in the stakeholder sub-group within the institution, but spread into the
surrounding area. By creating ties to the broader area, they increase their social
networks, and also the capacity for more community members to become involved in the
cohesion they are forming.

Chapter 5: Conclusion
In light of recent calls for increasing the cohesiveness of communities in the UK, this
essay has explored the potential for urban farms to serve as institutions that constitute a
blend of Healey’ (1996) ‘open public arena’ and Amin’s (2002) ‘micro-publics’ of
‘cultural transgression’ and ‘prosaic negotiation’- arenas that have the potential to
encourage interactions that foster cohesion. The study of Hackney City Farm has shown
that UFs potentially share many of the qualities of these institutions. HCF was easily
accessible and presented few barriers to participation and there was a presence of and

Payne 2010  30 
interaction between diverse users. The opportunity for people to negotiate their
differences and build trust through routine activities was ever present. Furthermore, HCF
fostered interactions that allowed formation of a common understanding, and engendered
feelings of belonging and community solidarity in its participants. Although some issues
with barriers to participation were noted, they did not substantially limit participation and
HCF has found a number of ways to work around these them, and be inclusive of the
majority of the community. This points to the ability of this institution and others like it
to foster community cohesion. While previous research has shown the potential for
cohesion within small groups to be exclusionary and for institutes of UA to foster bonds
only within these organizations, HCFs outreach projects showed the potential to spread
cohesion outside it’s institutional bounds.

By highlighting the ability of UFs to benefit individuals and communities through their
cohesion building capacity this essay hopes to increase recognition and influence funding
and urban policy decisions concerning these institutions. Funding and tenure are constant
concerns for UFs, and most “projects require significant support from local
authorities.”(Mbiba, 2003, p.22) The diversity of groups interacting and the farms ability
to maintain its outreach endeavors are highly influenced by the funding and grants
available for programming. Recent reports in London and New York (A tale of 2 Obes-
cities and Mayor Food Strategy) have recommended supporting small-scale local food
production in order to foster sustainable and healthy communities, this effort should be
expanded to specifically support UFs and it’s purpose broadened to recognize cohesion as
one of it’s multi-facet goals. The flexibility of UFs should be noted as an advantage as
these spaces can be used to meet the direct needs and style of interaction necessary in any
community. Thereby ensuring the diversity of these spaces and allow their benefits to
spill over into the wider community, as well as concentrating the use of limited funding
to achieve multiple beneficial outcomes for communities’ overall sustainability.

As little prior research exists specifically pertaining to urban farms and their specific
capacity to foster community cohesion, this case study requires further investigation.
Currently, there are 17 other UFs in London where similar studies could be explored to
replicate this research and explore its accuracy. Furthermore, the London Mayor’s office
Payne 2010  31 
is promoting Capital Growth, which aims to increase the cities growing spaces by 2012.
These study of interactions in these new spaces, while not UFs, could still be beneficial
for understanding how specific mixes of actors in differing places may be a catalyst for
cohesion building. Furthermore, the Capital Growth project, which offers multiple levels
of support to its participants, should consider a future focus on specifically promoting
urban farming.

Compared to more common forms of UA, UFs have a much more recent history in the
UK, with those in London existing less than 30 years. Their emerging role as a
community resource for social inclusion makes them an important form to take note of,
especially as they “exist mostly in built-up areas, where their creation has been a
response to the local community’s lack of access to open, informal, community-run green
space.” (Iles, 2005, p.83) As urban Farming grows in popularity it is important for cities
to understand and harness all the benefits these unique and increasingly prevalent forms
of urban agriculture provide.

Payne 2010  32 
ACGA (American Community Gardening Association). (2010). “About us.” [Online] retrieved
on August 1, 2010 from: http://communitygarden.org/about-acga/

Allotment Vegetable Growing. History of Allotments in England. Retrieved on March 1st, 2010
from: http://www.allotment.org.uk/articles/Allotment-History.php

Amin, A. (2002). Ethnicity and the Multicultural city: living with diversity. Environment and
Planning A, 34, 959-980.

Amin, A. (2005). Local Community on Trial. Economy and Society, 34:4, pp. 612 – 633.

Amin, A. (2008). Collective Culture and Urban Public Space. City, 12:1, pp. 5 - 24.

Cantle, T. (2001). Community Cohesion - A Report of the Independent Review Team. London:
Home Office.

Cantle, T. (2006). Parallel Lives. Index on Censorship, 35:85, pp. 85-90.

Cantle, T. (2008). Community Cohesion: A New Framework for Race and Diversity. New York:
Palgrave Macmillan.

Castells, M. (1997). Ch.1 Communal Heavens: Identity and Meanings in the Network Society.
(pp. 1-70) In (Ibid.) The Power of Identity. Oxford: Blackwell.

CIC (The Commission on Integration and Cohesion). (2007). Our Shared Future. Crown
Copyright: West Yorkshire.

Coleman, J. (1988). "Social Capital in the Creation of Human Capital," American Journal of
Sociology 94, 95-120.

Collins, R. (1981). On the Microfoundations of Macrosociology. The American Journal of

Sociology. 86:5, pp. 981-1014.

DCLG (Department of Communities and Local Government). (2008). The Government’s

Response to the Commission on Integration and Cohesion. Crown Copyright: London.

Deelstra, T. and Girardet, H. (2005). Growing Cities Growing Food Theme 2 Urban Agriculture
and Sustainable Cities. RUAF [online] Retrieved on June 15th, 2010 from:

Domene E. and Saurí D. (2007). Urbanization and class-produced natures: Vegetable gardens in
the Barcelona Metropolitan Region, Geoforum, 38, pp. 287-298.

Donald, B. and Blay-Palmer, A. (2006). The urban creative-food economy: producing food for
the urban elite or social inclusion opportunity? Environment and Planning A, 38, pp. 1901-1920.

Etzioni, A. (1993). The Spirit of Community: Rights, Responsibilities, and the Communitarian
Agenda. London: Fontana Press. (Ch. 1, 5, Conclusion and Preamble).

Payne 2010  33 
FCFCG (Federation of City Farms & Community Gardens) (2010a). ‘Our Work.’ Retrieved on
June 6, 2010 from: http://www.farmgarden.org.uk/about‐us/our‐work

FCFCG (Federation of City Farms & Community Gardens) (2010b). ‘Benefits of Farms and
Gardens.’ Retrieved on June 6, 2010 from: http://www.farmgarden.org.uk/farms‐

Forrest, R. and Kearns, A. (1999) Foundations: Social Cohesion and Urban Inclusion for
Disadvantaged Neighborhoods. Joseph Rowntree Trust. Retrieved from:

Forrest, R., & Kearns, A. (2001). Social cohesion, social capital and the neighbourhood. Urban
Studies, 38:12, pp. 2125–2143.

Fukuyama, F. (1999) Ch1: Playing by the Rules (pp. 3-26) & Ch 4: Causes: Demographic,
Economic and Cultural (pp.77-91). In (Ibid.) The Great Disruption: Human Nature and the
Reconstitution of Social Order. London: Profile Books.

Garnett, T. (1996) Growing food in cities: A report to highlight and promote the benefits of urban
agriculture in the UK. London: National Food Alliance and SAFE Alliance.

Garnett, T. (1999) City Harvest: The feasibility of growing more food in London.
London: Sustain: The Alliance for Better Food and Farming.

Garnett, T. (2005) Urban Agriculture in London: Rethinking Our Food Economy in Growing
Cities, Growing Food: Urban Agriculture on the Policy Agenda, retrieved on April 15th, 2010
from: http://www.ruaf.org/node/90

Hackney Council. (2006). Hackney Borough Profile. Hackney Council: London.

Hackney Council. (2008a) Hackney Directory: Hackney Allotment Society. Retrieved on

February 28th 2010 from:

Hackney Council. (2008b). Hackney Sustainable Community Strategy. Hackney Council:


Hackney Council. (2010, Feb. 1)a. Deprivation in Hackney. Retrieved on February 28th 2010
from: http://www.hackney.gov.uk/xp‐factsandfigures‐deprivation.htm

Hackney Council. (2010, Feb. 1)b. Hackney’s Population. Retrieved on February 28th 2010 from:

Healey, P. (1996) The Communicative turn in planning and its implications for spatial formation,
Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design, 23, pp. 217-234.

Healey, P. (1997) 2: An institutional approach to Spatial Change and Environmental Planning. In

Healey, P. (1997). Collaborative Planning: Shaping Places in Fragmented Societies. (pp.31-71)
London: Macmillan.

Payne 2010  34 
Healey, P. (1999). Institutionalist analysis, communicative planning and shaping places. Journal
of Planning and Environment Research, 19: 2, pp. 111–122.

Howe, J. and Wheeler, P. (1999). Urban food growing: The experience of two UK cities
Sustainable Development, 7, pp. 13–24.

Iles, Jeremy. (2005). The social role of community farms and gardens in the city. In Continuous
Productive Urban Landscapes: Designing Urban Agriculture for Sustainable Cities, ed. André
Viljoen, pp. 83–88. New York: Architectural Press.

Kearns, A. and Forrest, R. (2000). Social Cohesion and Multi-Level Urban Governance, Urban
Studies, 37, pp. 995– 1017.

Kingsley, J. and Townsend, M. (2006). ''Dig In' to Social Capital: Community Gardens as
Mechanisms for Growing Urban Social Connectedness', Urban Policy and Research, 24: 4, pp.
525 – 537.

Laurence, J. (2009). The effects of Ethnic Diversity and Community Disadvantage on Social
Cohesion: A Multilevel Analysis of Social Capital and Interethnic Relations in UK Communities.
European Sociological Review, Advance Access published online on December 9, 2009 vol 0:

Mbiba (2003). Financing City Farms in London. Urban Agriculture Magazine, 9, pp. 34-36.

Milburn, L. and Vail, B. (2010). Sowing the Seeds of Success: Cultivating a Future for
Community Gardens. Landscape Journal. 29:1: pp. 71-89.

Mougeot, L (2005) Growing Cities Growing Food Theme 1 Urban Agriculture: Definitions,
Presence, Potentials, Risks. RUAF [online] Retrieved on June 15th, 2010 from:

Mougeot, L. (2006). Growing better cities urban agriculture for sustainable development. Ottawa:
International Development Research Centre.

Mougeot, L (2010). Agropolis: Introduction [online] Retrieved on June 6th, 2010:


Nationwide. (2010). House Prices Index Q2 2010. Retrieved on Aug 22, 2010 from:

Nemore, C. (1998). “Rooted in Community: Community Gardens in New York City” A Report to
the New York State Senate. Retrieved on June 30, 2010 from:

Payne, A. (2010). “Urban Farm-acology: The Urban Political Ecology of Hackney City Farm.”
Unpublished Masters Essay for Regional and Urban Planning Studies. London School of
Economics, London.

Portes, A. and Landolt, P. (1996). The Downside of Social Capital. American Prospect, 26, pp.
18– 21.

Payne 2010  35 
Putnam, R.D. (2000). Bowling Alone. New York: Simon and Schuster.

Putnam, R. D. (2004). Education, Diversity, Social Cohesion and ‘Social Capital’: Meeting of
OECD Education Ministry – Raising the Quality of Learning for All: pp. 18 – 19 March 2004
(Dublin: OECD Education).

RUAF (Resource Centers on Urban Agriculture and Food Security) (2010). What is Urban
Agriculture? Retrieved on August 1, 2010 from: http://www.ruaf.org/node/512

Rees, W. (1997). “Why Urban Agriculture?” Notes for the IDRC Development Forum on Cities
Feeding People: A Growth Industry in Vancouver, BC on 20 May, 1997. Retrieved on July 19,
2010 from http://www.cityfarmer.org/rees.html

Robinson, D. (2005). The Search for Community Cohesion: Key Themes and Dominant Concepts
of the Public Policy Agenda. Urban Studies, 42: 8, pp. 1411-1427.

Saldivar-Tanaka, L. and Krasny, ME. (2004). Culturing Community Development, Neighborhood

Open Space, and Civic Agriculture: the Case of Latino Community Gardens in New York City.
Agriculture & Human Values, 21, pp. 399-412.

Schukoske, J. (2000). Community Development through Gardening: State and Local Policies
Transforming Urban Open Space; 3 N.Y.U. J. Legis. & Pub. Policy 351.

Smit, J and Bailkey, M. (2006). Building Community Capital and Social Inclusion through Urban
Agriculture. In Cities Farming for the Future. International Development Research Centre.
Retrieved on February 8, 2010 from: http://www.idrc.ca/en/ev-103777-201-1-DO_TOPIC.html

Thompson, S, Corkery, L. and Judd, B. (2007) The Role of Community Gardens in Sustaining
Healthy Communities. Presented at SOAC CONFERENCE, 28 - 30 November 2007, in
Adelaide, Australia. Retrieved on July 21, 2010 from:

Travaline, K. and Hunold, C. (2010). 'Urban agriculture and ecological citizenship in

Philadelphia', Local Environment, 15: 6, pp. 581 – 590.

Werbner, P. (2005). The translocation of Culture: ‘Community Cohesion’ and the Force of
Multiculturalism in History. The Sociological Review, 53 Issue 4, 745 – 768.

Payne 2010  36 
Appendix A: List of Interviews –
(All interviews conducted at Hackney City Farm unless otherwise noted)

A: Employees of Hackney City Farm (Including Full-time, Freelance and Contract)

Listed as: Name, Title, Program, Age, Time at farm, Interview date.

Anderson, Charlotte – Administrative Assistant, Learning Trust Program NVPRU/ Key Stage 4
Alternative Education Program (Hackney City Farm site); Age: 36; Time at Farm: 11 months
(previously a volunteer). Interviewed on Thursday, July 8th, 2010.

Baker, Caroline – Intergenerational Program Manager (Contracted), Hackney City Farm, Age
52, Time at Farm: 3 years running program; visitor over 10 years. Interviewed on Tuesday, July
13th, 2010.

Ballantine, Shawn – English Tutor, Learning Trust Program NVPRU/ Key Skills 4 Alternative
Education Program (Hackney City Farm site) and Aid for Asylum Seekers Project; Age: 31; Time
at Farm: 3 years. Interviewed on Thursday, July 15th, 2010.

Interview #17 – CPP Supervisor - Project Supervisor, Community Payback Program (Hackney
City Farm Site); Age: 45, Time at Farm: 1 year. Interviewed on Monday, July 12th, 2010.

Johnson, Adrian – Program Director, Learning Trust Program NVPRU/ Key Stage 4
Alternative Education Program (Hackney City Farm site) and Aid for Asylum Seekers Project;
Age: 47; Time at Farm: 5 years. Interviewed on Thursday, July 15th, 2010.

Macgregor, Charlotte – Livestock & Education Mentor, Hackney City Farm; Age: 30; Time at
Farm: 2 ½ years. Interviewed on Thursday, July 15th, 2010.

Montes de Oca, Gustavo – Environmental and Enterprise Manager, Hackney City Farm, Age
29; Time at Farm: 8 months; previously a Green Ambassador and volunteer for 2 years.
Interviewed on Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010 and July 13th, 2010.

Pounds, Chris – Farm Manager, Hackney City Farm; Age: 44; Time at Farm: 10 years.
Interviewed on Tuesday, July 13th, 2010.

Sayle, Charlie – Education and Volunteer Manager, Hackney City Farm; Age: 52; Time at Farm:
8 months, previously volunteered 2 years. Interviewed on Friday, February 12th, 2010 and
Monday, July 12th, 2010.

Williams, Naphtali – Assistant Animal Worker (Voluntary basis), Hackney City Farm & Past
Volunteer (Garden), currently a College; Age: 17; Time at Farm: 5 years; 1 year running sessions.
Interviewed on Thursday, July 22nd, 2010.

Payne 2010  37 
B: Volunteers (Garden and Farm Yard)
Listed as: Name, Age, Time at farm, Profession, Interview date.

Backes, Stephen – Volunteer (Garden); Age: 58, Time at Farm: 4 months volunteering,
previously a visitor and course participant; Profession: Self-employed, Property Manager.
Interviewed on Tuesday, July 13th, 2010.

Bliss, James Anthony – Volunteer (Garden); Age: 43, Time at Farm: 8 months; Profession:
Unwaged (disability benefits) Interviewed on Thursday, July 8th, 2010.

Brooks, Julia – Volunteer (Garden); Age: 61, Time at Farm: 7 ½ years; Profession: Pensioner
(Retired English Teacher). Interviewed on Thursday, July 8th, 2010.

Dockrell-Vass, Kristen Anne – Volunteer (Garden and Farm Yard); Age: 23, Time at Farm: 10
months; Profession: Student, (disability benefits). Interviewed on Tuesday, July 13th, 2010.

Interview #22 – Male Volunteer – Volunteer (Garden); Age: 52, Time at Farm: 3 months as
volunteer, many years as visitor; Profession: Unwaged. Interviewed on Tuesday, July 13th, 2010.

Purdue, Nick – Volunteer (Farm Yard); Age: 16, Time at Farm: 3 years; Profession: Student.
Interviewed on Thursday, July 8th, 2010.

Spenner, Dyan – Volunteer (Garden); Age: 61; Time at Farm: 10 years; Profession:
Retired/Pensioner. Interviewed on Thursday, July 15th, 2010.

Sykes, Mandy – Volunteer (Garden); Age: 43, Time at Farm: 5 Years; Profession: Unemployed.
Interviewed on Thursday, July 15th, 2010.

Vigrass, Tyvian – Volunteer (Maintenance & Garden), Age 37, Time at Farm: 7 months starting
March 2009 (recently returned); Profession: Unemployed (previously manager in service
industry). Interviewed on Monday, July 26th, 2010. (Interviewed at Il Bacio in Stoke Newington)


General working conversations were held with the majority of other volunteers, farmhands, work
experience students, as well as a number of visitors during volunteer sessions and other personal
visits. These conversations were unrecorded.

Payne 2010  38 
Appendix B: Sample Interview Questions – Farm and On-site Programme Staff
Below are samples of interview questions asked of farm and on site program staff at Hackney
City Farm. Questions generally followed the same form but were tailored to cover the specific
programs and projects of individual interviewees. The below should however give a general idea
of the course that institutional interviews took.

Sample 1: Second Interview, Gustavo Montes de Oca; Environmental and Enterprise Manager,
Hackney City Farm, Interviewed on Tuesday, July 13th, 2010 at Hackney City Farm.

1. Last time you explained that you had been with the farm about a year before you started
working here, can you tell me about that experience?
a. What brought you to the farm?
b. Had you worked on other similar projects before that?

2. What do you see as the major Goal(s) of the farm?

a. What are the major benefits you think the farm provides the community?

3. Can you describe some of the major stakeholder groups on the farm/ from the community?
a. I noticed in my time here that the majority of the workers and volunteers seem to be
White-British; do you think there’s a reason for that?
b. Do people socialize with others who they might not otherwise?

4. Do you see any challenges to different groups in participating on the farm?

a. (Time constraints, interests, feeling unsure of themselves and their skills)
b. Do you worry at all about the café/ ‘gentrifier’ crowd “co-opting” the farm?

5. How do you reach out to different groups in the Community?

6. What workshops are you running?

a. What sort of skills does the farm provide through these programs?
b. Are their different opportunities that the farm provides them?

7. We talked last time about your bringing in Green Ambassadors; can you tell me more about
that project?
a. Last time you mentioned trying to draw on the human capital of area, how do you plan to
do that?

8. I learned you are trying to put together a community orchard project, can you tell me more
about that?
a. What are the goals of that project?
b. What groups will be involved and how?

9. What role do you see the farm playing in the wider community?
a. How do you think the community views the farm?
b. What do you think the major benefits of the farm are to the surrounding community?

10. What for you is most rewarding about working on the farm?

11. Do you think your job as an environmental Journalist has aided you in you work here?

12. What do you see as your greatest challenge at the farm?

Payne 2010  39 
Sample 2: Onsite Program Staff: Adrian Johnson; Program Director, Learning Trust Program
NVPRU/ Key Stage 4 Alternative Education Program and Aid for Asylum Seekers Project.
Interviewed on Thursday, July 15th, 2010 at Hackney City Farm.

13. Do you live in the area?

14. What lead to your involvement with the farm?

a. Had you worked on other similar projects before that?

15. How long have you been working in conjunction with the farm?

16. Can you elaborate about the Key Skills 4 programme?

a. How long have programs been running?
b. What are their purposes/ goals?
c. What special skills do you think the programme offers to the kids?
d. Are their different opportunities that the farm provides them?

17. Do you work with other programs on the farm?

18. I noticed in my time here that the majority of the groups on the farm seem to be white/British;
do you think there’s a reason for that? Do your kids fall into that demographic?
a. Can you describe the different groups you work with?
b. How do the majority of your students find/ end up at the farm?
c. Are the majority of the kids in your course locals?

19. Does the participants in your programme interact with the other groups on the farm?
a. Are there any challenges to getting people to work together?

20. Do you think there is a special benefit to the program being run at the Farm?
a. What sort of atmosphere do you think the farm presents?

21. How do you see the farm as contribute to their place in and feelings about the community?

22. How often do you see the kids from your programs visiting the farm outside the program?
a. Do they visit the farm after the program is over? Did they come before?

23. How do you see the KS4 program fitting into the overall goals of the farm?

24. What do you feel the farm and the programs you run provide to the surrounding community?

25. Can you describe how you see the farm fitting into the larger community?

26. What overall benefits does the farm provide the community?

27. How does your past work experience come into play on the farm (does it?)?

28. What for you is most rewarding about working on the farm?
a. What do you see as the greatest challenge of your work here?

Payne 2010  40 
Appendix C: Sample Interview Questions – Garden and Farmyard Volunteers
Below is the general outline of interview questions asked of Garden and Farmyard Volunteers at
Hackney city farm. While interviews generally followed the same form, interviewees were
encouraged to speak freely and not all interviews proceeded in the exact order or covered all
questions. Some interviewees fall into vulnerable categories (youths or people with varying
levels of disabilities/handicaps) and therefore the length and course of those interviews varied
dependant on the individual interviewee.

Sample Volunteer Interview

1. Do you live in the neighbourhood?
a. If far, why have you chosen this farm?

2. How did you become involved at the farm?

a. How long have you been involved at the farm?
b. Why did you decide to volunteer?

3. Did you have any difficulty in becoming a volunteer?

a. What do you think might make it difficult for other people to volunteer with the farm?
4. What sort of work do you normally do when you come?

5. Did you have Agricultural experience before this? Community Gardening?

a. Have you/ do you work on other similar projects?

6. Do you participate in any of the other farm activities?

a. Do you visit the café?
b. If yes, could you describe the people in the café for me?

7. Do you ever hang out with the people from the farm outside the farm?

8. How would you describe the people you work with on the farm?
a. Do you consider yourself similar to the other people who volunteer at the farm?
b. Has the farm has given you the opportunity to meet different people?

9. How has volunteering at the farm changed the way you view others?

10. How comfortable do you feel here working on projects with others on the farm?

11. Do you ever find anything challenging or difficult on the farm?

12. How are disagreements usually resolved on the farm?

13. Has volunteering on the farm changed the way you feel about the neighbourhood?

14. (You’ve been here for a while) How do you think people in the area get along in Hackney?

15. What role do you think the farm plays in the community?
b. Are there benefits it provides the community?

16. What do you enjoy most about volunteering on the farm?

Payne 2010  41 
Appendix D: Overview of Programs, Projects and Enterprises at the Farm

Alternative Education Key Stage 4 Program –

Hackney City Farm is one of 12 remote providers for the Learning Trust’s New Visions Virtual
Pupil Referral Unit (NVPRU). This is a learning trust funded program for alternative provision at
Key Stage 4. Funding is granted yearly and the program is evaluated by the Learning Trust and
Ofsted (Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services & Skills). In their last evaluation
the site received an ‘Excellent’ on their review, the top score possible. Participants are students
who have been excluded from mainstream education for a number of reasons: learning
difficulties, behavioral problems, rejection of schooling, etc. The program replaces their regular
schooling program and is held during regular term times. Students receive one-to-one tutoring in
literacy and mathematics and participate in a varied extended curriculum that includes outdoor
activities, creative projects, environmental projects, and personal development and transition.
The site at the farm has been running for over years and accepts up to 10 students at a time.
Applicants are interviewed by the program supervisor to assess their compatibility with the
program and other pupils. Currently there are 10 students attending (9 boys and 1 girl) from the
surrounding Hackney area who are lead by a program supervisor (Adrian Johnson) and receive
tutelage from subject tutors on site.

Asylum Seekers & Refugees Program

In the past the Farm has run a ten-week program for asylum seekers and refugees created in
partnership with the Refugee Council. The courses were part of the Empowering Asylum Seekers
to Integrate (EASI) program and supported by the European Social Fund. The aim was to engage
the asylum seekers and refugees living in the Hackney area in meaningful activities that were
practical, enjoyable and socially cohesive in order to ease their transition into the community and
aid them in their everyday lives. The courses provided networking and support from local
community members and included training in English language learning (ESOL) and practical
volunteering, either in the garden or on Farm based projects, as well as basic socialization skills.
The program was free and open to the public ran for 2 years and involved people from all over
the world, primarily Africa and Asia. At this time the funding for the program has been cut,
however the farm is looking into ways to continue the program that they feel is much needed
given the diverse surrounding neighborhood.
For more information on EASI:

Back 2 Earth: School Visits & Workshops:

Schools and other groups regularly plan visits to the farm for different educational workshops and
tours. Schools pay for the workshops, but it varies by class size, length of course and whether or
not the schools are members of the farm. There are 3 basic workshops being run by the farm
educational and volunteer manager: Life cycle of a chicken, Growing Food, and Life cycles, trees
and mini-beasts. The farm also provides a hatching scheme during specific seasons where
schools are provided with incubators and information about hatching chicks in their classrooms.
These courses are all targeted at Hackney schools. Management prefers to hold the workshops at
onsite to ensure the children get to experience a farm, but will sometimes make school visits to
run programs.

Bike 2 Work Project

The farm has recently started a bike-lending program to encourage more locals to use alternative
transportation and provide deprived communities with the opportunity to start a new recreational
activity. Locals can rent a bike for a day for the same cost as a bus pass. The funds collected are
put aside, and after a set amount of time, the resident is offered the opportunity to ‘buy’ the bike

Payne 2010  42 
with the funds they have already contributed. The idea is to give locals experience biking and
offer them the opportunity to continue once the trial period is over. The farm plans to offer
maintenance and riding workshops as well as a bike to work buddy system to help people
acclimate and show them how to get around during their first few rides.

Biodiesel Project
Started as part of the Big Green Challenge and supported by funding from UnLtd, this project is
currently run by volunteers and staff. The aim is to regularly produce diesel by recycling the
waste cooking oil from the café at the farm and other local business’ in the area, and not buy oil,
allowing us to reduce our carbon footprint. The project is moving towards becoming an ex-
offender rehabilitation program, partnering with parole boards to get offenders trained in bio-fuel
production while incarcerated to handle the project on the farm, thus increasing both their
technical skills and providing a soft landing and easier transition back into society. The project is
meant to operate as a base and eventual training centre to serve as an example for other bio-diesel
projects as well as a to continue to move a flow of ex-offenders through the program and provide
them with a job opportunity and decrease the chances of their re-offending.

Community Orchard (Pending)

The farm has recently obtained land in nearby Haggerston Park to start a community Orchard.
The project will initially be organized by the farm, but will rely on local residents and farm
volunteers for the majority of its construction and operation. Currently, staff members are
liaising with Hackney Homes and local residents associations in the hopes of garnering support
from the estates. Furthermore they have approached numerous local bars and the local Hell’s
Angels Chapter with the idea of starting “Orchard Teams” which would function like
extracurricular sports teams, whose members would come once a week to help with the planting
and maintenance of the project. The farm hopes that they will be able to step back and hand
operation over to a community after a few years and remain as silent partners, offering funding
and help when needed, but leaving everyday operation and decisions up to the community. As
the farm currently has numerous volunteers and cannot take on many more, they hope the space
will provide additional volunteering opportunities. Furthermore, as the farm doesn’t currently
grow enough food to enhance the local food supply, they hope the orchard will allow them to
contribute more to local health and nutrition.

Community Payback
A national program started in 2003 by the Home Office and overseen by London Probation,
Community Payback replaced Community Service program across the UK. Courts sentence
offenders of misdemeanor crimes to undertake between 40 and 300 hours of Community Payback
as opposed to serving prison time. The aim of the program is to forces offenders to pay the
community back for the crimes hey have committed. The activities are unpaid and demanding
work that is aimed at giving something to local communities and forcing offenders to repay the
community for the wrong they have done. Sites are nominated and offenders (called “clients”)
perform one day of work (6 ½ hours) a week at the site. The farm has been a site for 4 years and
the “clients” perform specific tasks (basic cleaning/ maintenance duties) under the charge of a
Project Supervisor. The program is carried out on Mondays when the farm is closed to the
public. For more information: http://www.communitypayback.com/

Community Workshops and Classes:

The farm serves as a workspace and base for a number of other classes and workshops as well as
providing it’s services as a community meeting centre. The farm provides use of it’s straw bale
building and other facilities free for most classes and workshops which serve the community and
charges a minimal token fee for the use of space to groups who charge for their courses. Current

Payne 2010  43 
weekly classes, meeting and workshops include: The Mosaic Workshop, Community Choir, the
Morris Dancing Troop, Woodcraft Folk (similar to scouts), Community Yoga Class and
Nappucino/ Nappy Natters (see below).
For more information: http://hackneycityfarm.co.uk/docs/activities/whatson.htm

Gardening and Nature Courses:

The farm runs a number of courses and workshops on gardening and other farm/nature related
topics. The courses run once a week for between 6-12 weeks and usually cost between £60-120.
Past courses have included workshops on restoring gardens, vegetable gardening and beekeeping.
Gardening curses take place during the week and use the farms vegetable and front gardens.

Green Ambassadors:
A series of workshops run by the farm that invites community members to become sustainability
and environmental ‘leaders’ in the community. The project was initially designed as an outreach
activity into the community with the aim of helping local people to be more sustainable and start
projects in the area where they live. The project targets tenants and residents organizations
through Hackney Homes and currently works and supports 15 ambassadors. Initial workshops
examined participant attitudes around levels of sustainability in the area and how it could be
improve and then looked at community values to explore solutions. Ambassadors are encouraged
and supported in leading small projects with different environmental focuses in their areas/ on
local estates aimed at engaging people in their own settings and involving a broader user group
with the farm. Members attend meetings at the farm to discuss their projects and potential new
activities as well as to discuss difficulties in engagement of the community or other issues. The
major goal of the project was to increase community outreach and engage in community building
as a first step towards sustainability. Projects include: starting community gardens, basic
community building events (Battery Drops), and educational events surrounding energy use.
New potential projects for fall include a community orchard project in Haggerston Park.

Intergenerational Program:
The intergenerational program brings together children from a local Hackney school (St Paul's
with St Michael's C of E Primary School) in partnership with elders from the local community
centre (the Sundial Centre). The program has been running 3 years run and brings together
predominantly first generation immigrant youths whose first language is not English (70%) with
local ‘East Ender’s’ Intergenerational workshops run twice a year and cover a variety of themes,
usually centered around history or remembrance with the idea of increasing the ties and sense of
place of children to the specific history of the area which they might not normally be aware of or
engage with due to their lack of historical connection/ family connection to the area. The
program also runs additional one-off events such as visit by the class to The Sundial Centre, visits
by elders to school to share reflections with school assembly, a cream tea with songs in the cafe
for elders to inform them about events at the farm and progress with the Intergenerational project,
consultations about projects with elders, children and professional. Hackney City Farm supports
the project in conjunction with Worshipful Companies in the City of London, the Peabody Group,
and also through the Link Age Program/Sundial Centre. For more information on the Sundial
Centre: http://www.peabody.org.uk/living/community‐centres/sundial‐centre.aspx

Low Impact Living Initiative (LILI):

A non-profit organization whose goal is to help people reduce their impact on the environment
and lead healthier lives while improving their quality of life and teaching them new skills. They
run numerous courses across the UK, and have been running at least one course a month at the
farm since 2008. Past topics/courses have covered: Using wood stoves, making natural skin-care
products, alternative energy & off-grid power systems, intro to bio-fuel, beekeeping, building

Payne 2010  44 
with alternative materials (straw bale, rammed earth, etc). Courses last a day and usually cost
between £60-120. For more information: http://www.lowimpact.org/

Mini Farmers Club

A volunteer program for young people aged 8–14 years is held every Saturday morning from
10.30—12.30. Its aim is to teach younger children from the city about animals, farming and
nature in general. Mini-farmers garden, work with the animals, learn to care for the farmyard and
do arts and crafts under the careful supervision of the livestock worker. The sessions are free and
open to the public, however due to popularity in recent years there is currently a waiting list as
the program can only take 20 children at a time. Children are also encouraged to come in at their
leisure and volunteer outside these times if the sessions do not fit their schedule or the classes are

Nappy Natters
Nappuccinos are monthly social and informative events hosted by Hackney recycling team and
run by The Hackney Real Nappy Network (HRNN), a group of parents living in Hackney who
use and promote real nappies. These events target local parents and are free and open to the
public (they also give parents a chance to cash in their free natural nappy vouchers). There is a
short talk followed by an opportunity to ask questions and buy nappies. For more information:

The pottery is located at the back of the main building and has been operating since almost the
beginning of the farm itself. There are drop in classes for children and adult classes twice a week
for minimal fees (about £5 for drop- in sessions and slightly more for adult courses). The pottery
is run as a completely volunteer operation.

Volunteer Gardening Sessions (and Farm Yard Activities)

Volunteers are free to drop by and help in both the front and side gardens. The sessions are
Tuesdays and Thursday afternoons from 2–4pm, followed by a tea and social hour. Sessions are
open to the entire community and require no training or previous experience. Volunteers perform
planting, potting and general garden tasks, but also occasionally engage in maintenance and other
farmyard tasks. Some volunteers also come during the week to informally assist in the farmyard
as animal workers, cleaning out stalls, and assisting in the general care of the animals.

Work Experience
The farm also hosts a number of work experience students at both secondary school and college
levels throughout the year. Students choose the farm as their site and their experience can run
from 2 weeks to a number of months. Participants initially shadow the staff animal workers to
learn the routines of the farmyard, and eventually go on to manage the duties (under supervision)
themselves. Tasks include: mucking-out the stalls, feeding and watering the animals, leading the
animals out, maintaining the farmyard, etc. Secondary students (usually age 14) must apply for
special permission from their schools, as Hackney City Farm is not on the official list of work
experience sites. College age students tend to apply from a number of animal care courses at local

Additional Enterprises at the Farm:

Bike Yard East
The bike shop occupies a small building on the back of the farm and has been running since
October 2008. They offer bike repairs and maintenance, and a number of paid courses, usually
around basic maintenance and safety. Courses are usually a day and cost £60-120. The workers

Payne 2010  45 
maintain a close relationship with the members of the farm and often work in conjunction with
the other various users on the farm. (In the past they have worked with both the Asylum Seekers
& Refugees Program and the Alternative Education Program on various workshops.) Both
volunteers and visitors speak highly of the shop and rely on the staff for repairs and advice. Bike
Yard East also supports local organizations that put on biker events, the council's bike events,
including a mechanical support event called "Dr Bike".
For more information: http://www.bikeyardeast.com/index.shtml?nav=home

Café Frizzante:
The café, which opened in 2002, is located in the front room of the farm, with the aim of
providing a local restaurant that catered to adults and children, in a venue that provides a unique
and tranquil environment that seems miles away from a city, yet remained easily accessible. All
the food cooked uses seasonal ingredients mainly from local farms in Kent. They hold special
Thursday supper nights which try to rely on only ingredients from the Farms own vegetable
gardens. They are open Tuesday to Sunday, 10am to 4.30pm and Thursday night for ‘communal’
dinners from 7-10pm. The café is a separate enterprise that leases the space from the farm. For
more information: http://www.frizzanteltd.co.uk/

Fonic Sound Post Production Film Studios & Production Services

Audio postproduction for TV, Film & Video. For more information: http://www.fonic.co.uk/

Kindle Entertainment
Film and television Production Company producing children’s films and programs.
For more information: http://www.kindleentertainment.co.uk/index2.html

Payne 2010  46 
Appendix E: Urban and City Farms in the Greater London Area
Source: FCFCG “London City Farms & Community Gardens: Maps & Information” (May 2009)
Retrieved from: http://www.farmgarden.org.uk/farms‐gardens/your‐region/london

1) Brooks Farm: Waltham Forest, Skeltons Lane, Leyton, London E10 5BS
2) Deen City Farm: 9 Windsor Avenue, Merton Abbey, London, SW19 2RR
3) Freightliners City Farm: Islington, Sheringham Road, London, N7 8PF
4) Hackney City Farm: Hackney, 1a Goldsmiths Row, London, E2 8QA
5) Heathrow Special Needs Farm (Spelthorne): Hillingdon, Bath Road, Longford
Village, Hillingdon, Middlesex, UB7-0EF
6) Hounslow Urban Farm: Hounslow, Faggs Road, Feltham, TW14 0LZ
7) Kentish Town City Farm: Camden, 1 Cressfield Close, London, NW5 4BN
8) Lambourne End Center Farm: Essex, Manor Road, Lambourne End Essex, RM4
1NB http://www.lambourne‐end.org.uk/
9) Mudchute Farm and Park: Tower Hamlets, Pier Street, Isle of Dogs, London, E14
10) Newham City Farm: Newham, King George Avenue, London, E16 3HR
11) Phoenix High School Farm: Hammersmith & Fulham, The Curve, London, W12
12) Spitalfields City Farm: Tower Hamlets, Buxton Street, London, E1 5AR
13) Stepping Stone Farm: Tower Hamlets, Stepney Way, London, E1 3DG
14) Surrey Docks Farm: Southwark, Rotherhithe Street, London, SE16 5ET
15) Vauxhall City Farm: Lambeth, 165 Tyers Street, London, SE11 5HS
16) Wellgate Community Farm: Barking & Dagenham, Collier Row Rd., Romford,
17) Woodlands Farm: Greenwich/ Bexley, 331 Shooters Hill Welling, Kent, DA16 3RP

Payne 2010  47 
Appendix F: Definitions of social and community cohesion

5 domains of Social Cohesion 6 components of Community Cohesion*

Kearns and Forrest (2000) Commission on Integration & Cohesion (2007)

• Common values and a civic culture: • There is a clearly defined and widely
Common aims and objectives; common shared sense of the contribution of
moral principles and codes of different individuals and different
behaviour; support for political communities to a future vision for a
institutions and participation in politics neighbourhood, city, region or country

• Social order and social control: • There is a strong sense of an

Absence of general conflict and threats individual’s rights and responsibilities
to the existing order; absence of when living in a particular place –
incivility; effective informal social people know what everyone expects of
control; tolerance; respect for them, and what they can expect in turn
difference; intergroup co-operation
• Those from different backgrounds have
• Social solidarity and reductions in similar life opportunities, access to
wealth disparities: Harmonious services and treatment
economic and social development and
common standards; redistribution of • There is a strong sense of trust in
public finances and of opportunities; institutions locally to act fairly in
equal access to services and welfare arbitrating between different interests
benefits; ready acknowledgement of and for their role and justifications to
social obligations and willingness to be subject to public scrutiny
assist others
• There is a strong recognition of the
• Social networks and social capital: contribution of both those who have
High degree of social interaction within newly arrived and those who already
communities and families; civic have deep attachments to a particular
engagement and associational activity; place, with a focus on what they have
easy resolution of collective action in common
• There are strong and positive
• Place attachment and identity: relationships between people from
Strong attachment to place; different backgrounds in the
intertwining of personal and place workplace, in schools and other
identity institutions within neighbourhoods.

*Note: The Commission on Integration and Cohesion’s six components of community cohesion
are a revision of the LGA (2002) components, published: “Guidance on Community Cohesion.”
• There is common vision and a sense of belonging for all communities
• The diversity of peoples different backgrounds and circumstances are appreciated and
positively valued
• Those from different backgrounds have similar life opportunities
• Strong and positive relationships are being developed between people from different
backgrounds in the workplace, in schools and within neighbourhoods.
LGA (Local Government Association) Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, Home Office, Commission for
Racial Equality (2002) Guidance on Community Cohesion. London: LGA.

Payne 2010  48 
Appendix G: Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) in Hackney
Source: Hackney Council. (2010)a. Deprivation in Hackney.
Retrieved on February 28th 2010 from: http://www.hackney.gov.uk/xp‐factsandfigures‐

The IMD 2007 is based on small areas called lower level Super Output Areas (SOAs).
Hackney has 137 SOAs and that contain on average 1,500 residents. The IMD 2007
gauges deprivation based on seven domains which relate to income deprivation,
employment deprivation, health deprivation and disability, education skills and training
deprivation, barriers to housing and services, living environment deprivation, and crime.
It is used by local authorities to allocate funding to targeted areas (identified as being the
most disadvantaged and in need of the most help.)

• In 2007, Hackney's average score (based on SOAs) make it the second deprived
local authority in England, second to Liverpool and ahead of Tower Hamlets
(3rd), and Manchester (4th).
• In 2004, Hackney's average ranks (based on SOAs) made it the most deprived
local authority in England.

Payne 2010  49 
Appendix H: Hackney Facts and Figures (Page 1)
Source: Hackney Council. (2010) Facts and Figures. Retrieved on February 28th 2010 from:

Payne 2010  50 
Appendix H: Hackney Facts and Figures (Page 2)
Source: Hackney Council. (2010) Facts and Figures. Retrieved on February 28th 2010 from:

Payne 2010  51 
Appendix I: Maps
Image from: Hackney Council (2008) State of the Environment Report for Hackney. London
Borough of Hackney: London.

Street Map of Hackney City Farm: Source Google Maps

Payne 2010  52