"From mucking out to nailing shingles – all in a day’s volunteering."
I got some very strange looks on the train home after spending the day helping out at the Spitalfields City Farm. I suspect it may have been the slight whiff of manure surrounding me! But then what did I expect after spending the morning up to my ankles in you know what, shovelling it into wheelbarrows.
It was a far cry from my normal desk job at the Financial Reporting Council (FRC), the UK’s audit regulator, but intensely rewarding. I and around 30 colleagues spent the day taking on a range of tasks to help out at the Farm. We mucked out, cleared out, painted, dug up, replanted, watered, nailed shingles to a roof and much more.
The FRC is a public body with a culture that recognises our responsibilities towards society and the importance of supporting local causes. And so after researching opportunities near to our base in the City we unanimously agreed that the Farm in Spitalfields would enable us to fulfil our twin objectives of putting something back into the community and helping us to do some important team building.
While Emily gave us the health and safety talk we tried not to be distracted by two pigs, four donkeys and several goats wandering by. After the grand tour during which she explained all that goes on at the Farm and how important it is to people in the local area, we were set to work. We may have chosen one of the hottest days of the year when the muck pile was at its stinkiest but that didn’t dent the enthusiasm for getting our hands and feet dirty in the open air.
What a day we had with most of us working on two or more tasks before it was time to decamp to a local watering hole. Over a beer or two we shared stories of the fun we had, the wonderful work the Farm does and all we had achieved there during the day. And then it was home to shower and flop.
Spitalfields City Farm has left a lasting impression on all of us not just for the great work it does within the local community but for the spirit with which the team there approaches its responsibilities and the enthusiasm they show for volunteers. We had a great time for which we thank Emily and her colleagues very much.