A farm in the middle of London? Surely not? But yes: fields, real animals (cows, sheep, goats etc.) and a large much heap. Last week, 17 of us from the London office were shovelling manure on a city farm within a couple of miles of the office. Well actually we did many other jobs on the farm but, given the smell of fresh goat's poo and the labour-intensity of the task, I think the muck moving is what stayed with most of us!
Having spent a day on the farm two things stood out. The first was just how much work it takes to keep the farm going: moving the animals; cleaning out their pens; looking after the vegetable and fruit gardens; running a vegetarian café; maintaining the buildings; and delivering education work with children. The second was how well-used the space is: throughout the day pre-school groups, disabled children and adults, parents and toddlers, and school trips and after school visitors were coming and going. It was clear that the farm is a valued community space in this part of London.
So how did we help?
Split into three groups we rotated round 3 activities; turning the much heap to speed up the rotting, painting a new volunteer hut, gardening and cleaning and oiling the decking around the farm's café. These jobs are all time-consuming projects and additional to the day to day management of the farm. By having Euromonitor contribute the materials as well as the labour the farm was able to move forward with these projects.
A little bit of healthy competition between the groups kept us all working hard as the sun beat down on us. At the end of the day it was amazing to see how much we'd achieved and the difference it will make to the farm. It made the back ache and blisters (and in once case, the pitchforked toe) worthwhile!
The day had other benefits, too. People commented that it was good to spend time with colleagues in a different environment, as well as working alongside people they didn't necessarily interact with on a daily basis. But what stands out the most in the feedback in that people had FUN!
Every Euromonitor staff member is entitled to take two days paid volunteer leave each year and I can't recommend it enough.