A few little fields and some smiling faces – first impressions from the Woodgate Valley Urban Farm. Those faces are mostly of children who can visit the farm to see the range of shapes and sizes of domestic animals that are all too often cartoon characters. Undeniably the Urban Farm has educational value and it is one of Birmingham’s assets. Tucked away at the western edge of the city at Clapgate Lane (though very close to the 23 and 002 bus routes), it should perhaps be a model to be copied elsewhere in the city. Birmingham people need to eat and yet the city dashes to ‘develop’ green areas that could support allotments, chickens, ducks, and perhaps even sheep. Shouldn’t we get more food locally ? The dilemma is where to develop. A city functions better and can be based on facilities within walking distance of homes, if people are densely packed. To incorporate parks and urban farms can improve human well being but does it cost us convenience ?

At Woodgate, short term, there is a Thursday volunteer scheme at the farm (sponsored by CNSW) that could be a sampler for people thinking about outdoor work, details at www.wvurbanfarm.org.uk. Meanwhile I will think some more about the development dilemma. I don’t have the answers but see an urban farm for yourself (there is also one at Balsall Heath).

John Davison