The Earl and Countess of Wessex were down on the farm yesterday, Vauxhall City Farm to be precise.
The couple paid a visit to the farm in London to see their community engagement programmes in action. Vauxhall City Farm is one of the oldest in central London, having been founded over 40 years ago. It provides education, recreation and health benefits to the local community, as well as offering educational and vocational activities to schools in the local area.
During the visit, Prince Edward and Sophie’s joined staff, volunteers and residents and schoolchildren from the local area as the Vauxhall City Farm marked the start of Black History Month.
Black History Month runs for the whole of October and is an annual observance of the central role of many influential black men and women in history. It originated from the United States but is observed in other countries around the world, including the UK, Ireland and the Netherlands.
The royal couple met schoolchildren participating in the farm’s programme of educational activities for Black History Month, aimed at schools in the local area, with teachers and students sharing stories and poems about important figures in black history.
Their Earl and Countess also met graduates of the farm’s New Shoots programme. The six-week programme, which costs nothing to those wanting to take part, helps equip unemployed young people, aged 16-25, with the skills to gain employment and also provides access to career guidance, mentoring and training.
Of course, a big thing with all royal visits lately is learning about how the organisation has adapted to the Coronavirus pandemic. Staff and volunteers at the farm also spoke to the Wessexes, explaining the new measures in place at the farm since the re-opening, and how they are doing in carrying them out. They also explained how they worked while they were in lockdown and how they continued looking after the animals during that time.
Speaking of the animals, Edward and Sophie got up close with the farm’s famous alpaca residents. You might ask what makes them famous? Well, Jerry, Ben and Tom (that’s their names) all appeared in ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ as animal extras!
Sophie greeted the movie stars by jokingly telling them: “You’ve got a funny face.” But added after a pause: “I suppose you must think I have a funny face too.”
No word on what exactly the three alpacas thought about that, but I doubt they would find Sophie anything but beautiful!
To help provide support to young people, a brand new community garden is being created at the farm, with an aim to include an educational therapy hub that uses gardening and horticulture to support children and adults facing physical and mental health challenges.
The royal visitors donned their gardening gloves to help plant in the bedding boxes.
Vauxhall City Farm was closed from March 23rd – July 28th, losing 80% of its income in that time. They are currently trying to raise £600,000 to stay afloat – having raised £250,000 so far – and it’s no doubt that this visit from the Wessexes has given them a boost.
The farm is open Tuesday – Sunday and no booking is required. Visit vauxhallcityfarm.org to find out more.