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Photography students document life at Newham City Farm

students studying at UEL

Project aims to raise awareness of farm and boost its online presence

Alpacas, fat cats, a selfie-loving donkey – the residents of Newham City Farm have proved to be the perfect subjects for a group of UEL photography students looking to make a difference.

Five third-year photography students recently spent several months at the farm, capturing images of not just animals, but staff, visitors, greenery and mud for their Newham Farm Photography Project. The work is on display at the farm at an exhibition that runs throughout next week.

“I think it’s very important to get children educated about where food comes from, what animals do, how important it is that we support city farms,” said student Emily Usher. 

UEL encourages students to work with community organisations as part of its commitment to civic engagement. Besides documenting the farm’s day-to-day life, Emily and her cohorts worked to boost its online presence through a dedicated project blog and Facebook and Instagram accounts. 

They also raised awareness of the farm with local businesses, charities and community members. One nearby hotel has agreed to keep the farm’s literature in its lobby and promote it as a visitor attraction. The students also reached out to noted community activist Ed Berman, who helped start the City Farm movement in the 1970s, resulting in Mr Berman attending the exhibition on Thursday.

“A small business like this relies on donations,” said student Emily Faulder. “They need money, but we can’t give them money ourselves. This is a way of generating funds in an indirect way,” 

Newham City Farm, created in 1977, is one of London’s oldest city farms. It is located in a residential area on Stansfield Road, about a five minute walk from the Royal Albert DLR station. It’s home to range of animals, including alpacas, pigs, horses, donkeys, sheep and a wide variety of birds and fowl.

“There is a sense of tranquillity and peace at the farm that most of our visitors do comment on,” said farm manager Theresa Salmon.

“Amidst the bustle of Newham, they are often pleasantly surprised that it does feel like being in the countryside. I think that’s been captured really well in the photos.”

Ella Tarratt, who runs support services at the farm for people with learning disabilities, noted that the photography exhibition had boosted business for the small on-site cafe, which is run as a social enterprise.

“The café has been re-opened six weeks and this is the most action we’ve had,” she said. “The students have just been so nice and energetic. I think the fact that we’re so close to UEL is so nice.”

Ms Usher said she and the others hope to maintain ties with the farm. In February, they will return to do a skill-sharing photography workshop with farm managers.