Deen City Farm Under Threat

Council cuts threaten the future of popular centre

A popular city farm based in South Wimbledon is under threat because of planned council funding cuts.

Deen City Farm, which runs a variety of educational activities from its centre in Windsor Avenue, has been told Merton borough council is cutting thousands of pounds in vital funding.

The council is planning to reduce its funding to the farm by £15,000 in 2011, by £30,000 in 2012 and £45,000 in 2013.

But farm Project Manager Ben Cheetham said: "We can use our reserves in year one, but there is a genuine threat that the project cannot continue."

Organisers are now working out their strategy for challenging the cuts and an online petition has already been set up.

Mr Cheetham said for every £1 the farm receives in grant aid from the council, it generates another £3. But he said to cover the shortfall in years two and three was a "big ask".

The farm is home to hundreds of animals, a horse-riding school, a cafe, gardens and runs a vast range of educational activites from after-school clubs to work experience placements.

Mr Cheetham pointed out that many of the farm's volunteers have special needs and much of the organisation's work is difficult to quantify and prove.

"We believe that Merton needs to look at its priorities. They didn't discuss this with us before we saw the figures in the budget. It is a worrying time," he added.

December 10, 2010