As the late September sun dips over Canary Wharf, urban farm manager Kevin Neville has been taking stock of the busy harvest that has left the barns overflowing and paused for a moment to reflect on what a difference a year can make.
Twelve months ago, the farm was on the verge of financial ruin. Crops were regularly failing, livestock was traumatised to the point of paralysis by inner city life, staff attrition at an all-time high and public support was at an all-time low. ‘We were days away from having to close – funding was being pulled, and the whole enterprise seemed hopeless,’ admitted Kevin. The farm staff, forced to admit that rural methods were unsuitable, took a long, hard look around the streets, concentrating on what thrives best in an urban environment: tramps.
Gone were the grazing meadows, dairy cattle and crop rotation, replaced by a street light arboretum, feral cats and the magnificent glass-house Turdery. ‘The locals have been brilliant, particularly with donations for our plastic bag seed-crop. The styrofoam silage product is well underway, and our bumper tramp harvest means we will be able to re-introduce the grumbling bindlestiff across most of the Southern Counties,’ he said.
But although the year has been bountiful, there have been failures, most pointedly in the wheely bin breeding programme. These magnificent but truculent beasts, whilst seemingly everywhere, are notoriously fickle at reproducing in captivity. Kevin admit that the hope for a recycling-garden waste hybrid will have to wait until next year.
And as for the future ? Rosy as the ruddy bloom on the farms prize-winning flock of Park Winos. ‘Itinerants and vagrants are going to be a major growth area under this government’s economic policy,’ beamed Kevin. ‘It’s all coming up hobos!’