Last November, students at the University of the West of England worked with Windmill Hill City Farm on a series of action days, to help turn a carpark into a beautiful garden with raised beds. Students helped with a range of activities including clearing soil and weeding ready for planting, as well as enjoying a farm tour and the chance to feed the animals.
Windmill Hill City Farm is well known across Bristol as vibrant community organisation. It provides a place to go for local families, educates people about food, farming and the environment, runs groups for people with specific needs to gain skills, experience and confidence, and provides childcare for the local community.
The city farm was established in 1976 by a team local volunteer residents, and today volunteers are a vital part of the way the farm runs. Currently, the farm have about 70 regular volunteers, all with different levels of involvement, ranging from those who work on one-off events to people who help out several times a week. There’s lots of different activities to get involved in throughout the year, and the changing seasons are reflected in the way the farm runs. In winter, it’s time for clearing and maintaining, in the spring it’s time to plant new seeds and in the autumn there’s harvesting, as well as the year-round animal care tasks to be done.
The benefits are superb for both students and the farm. Volunteering at Windmill Hill City Farm offers students the chance to work on a range of unique projects, and find out about what’s going on in local community, as well as a chance to see how their studies are relevant in the wider community.
Lizzie Spencer has been working at the farm as Volunteer Coordinator since early 2014 and has seen first-hand how important student volunteers are in the way the farm runs.
“All of the projects we have worked on with students have been great successes. It’s fantastic to see them come along to the farm and help make it the best in can be for the local community – it takes a lot of people to keep it going so volunteers are invaluable.”
The farm gets very busy in the summer with visiting families so they are currently looking for Farm Ambassadors to give tours and be the public face of the farm. Farm Ambassadors are crucial to provide a satisfying and enjoyable experience for visitors; educating volunteers about animals, food and the environment, and building public support.
Windmill Hill City Farm’s volunteering programme provides an initial induction, regular supervision and support, and training where appropriate, to develop each volunteer’s skills base in their chosen areas. They also have regular meetings with the opportunity to socialise with fellow volunteers and discuss the City Farm’s development.
If you would like to find out more about working with students on similar projects, please contact us.