JAN/FEB 2024 ISSUE
a grand day out
MEANWOOD VALLEY URBAN FARM
The Shine team commune with the animals at Meanwood Valley Urban Farm
WORDS: DAVID SMITH, MAUREEN KERSHAW, JUDY WILD, & ANNE CHITTY
PHOTOGRAPHY: DANIEL JOHNSON
Where to Go
Meanwood Valley Urban Farm, Sugar Well Road, Meanwood, Leeds, LS7 2QG
Adults £3, children 50p
There are plenty of toilets and a lovely café. All areas are accessible.
Catch the 38 or 39 and get off before the Woodhouse Cricket Club. Follow the signs to find the farm. Buses go from the Headrow in the city centre and the journey is under 20 minutes.
Monday – Sunday
10am – 4pm
Closed Christmas Day and Boxing Day
Meanwood Valley Urban Farm was established in 1980, with the aim of reconnecting urban people with their food. The farm is home to a number of animals – alpacas, sheep, pigs and more. For many city children, Meanwood offers their first glimpse of what a farm is like in real-life. Meanwood is a beautiful space, full of lovely warm-hearted people. Older visitors will find it welcoming and easy to get around. It’s not to be missed!
BY MAUREEN KIRSHAW
Our journey to Meanwood started outside (not inside!) the Three Legs pub on The Headrow. Our journey on the bus took 15 minutes, through Little London, Woodhouse and finally Meanwood Road. Look out for the brightly coloured posters of the Meanwood Project with photographs of its local residents, transient students and pet dogs! When you get off the bus, you have to cross quite a busy road, so do take care. Look out for the pedestrian crossing. To the left of the Rollette Café, a path took us over Meanwood Beck towards the farm. There was lots of wildlife, followed by a dozen steps, which brought us to the main entrance of the farm - to be greeted by the Alpacas, Eric and Bertie!
our visit By Judy Wild
Meanwood Valley Urban Farm is a delightful surprise. As we walked into the site, we were immediately greeted by animals. The alpacas, donkeys and pigs are all located at the entrance and offer a lovely welcome. When you arrive you will see a building located across the car park. This houses the shop where you buy your tickets - and you can pick up a map of the grounds. There is an interesting display of the history of the farm in this area. Volunteer Daz was on duty when we visited - he was very helpful and cheerful.
The farm is a social enterprise and supports the community by offering volunteering and work experience opportunities. We enjoyed the excellent Barn Café on site. It was busy and full of life and warmth. There were lots of pre-school children with their carers, and a good cross section of the public, including many older people. The special Aloo Gobi Soup smelled very tempting! There are lots of outside picnic tables for warmer days.
The beautiful Meanwood Beck flows through the grounds. There is a pond on the site if aquatic exploration is your thing. The toilets are next to the café, but accessed separately. There was a disabled loo with good access. The toilets were clean and well stocked. We found the grounds to be very well maintained. There were so many different shades of green to be seen - it was a joy to be outside. The footpaths through the grounds were well-kept and there is clear signage to direct you around.
It was hard to believe we were in Leeds, not out in the country. We saw goats, alpacas, sheep, pigs and donkeys - and in the distance at the back of their field, some cows. The animals looked very content and their immediate surroundings were very clean. There is also a small animals enclosure housing some rabbits. There is also a hen run, potting sheds and well signposted walks to be followed.
The farm is excellent for older people to stroll around. Lots to look at and excellent access. It is really good for grandparents with small children as it’s an extremely safe environment for small people with a good variety of things to do. I shall be testing it out on my own small people soon!
THE DOG SITTER
Chris is from Devon but he comes up to Leeds regularly to dog-sit whilst his family are away.
Every time I come up to Leeds, I try to find new places to come. My son lives here but he’s working in India. This is my fourth trip up here. I’m staying in Little London. I’m discovering all the parks of Leeds. I walk everywhere. I got here from town. These are my son’s dogs. They are rescues from somewhere in deepest darkest
Maureen, Judy and Anne meet some of the people who come to Meanwood Valley Urban Farm and think of it as a special place
Europe. They are general mongrel street dogs. You can see the farm from the ridge but I’ve not been in here before. I don’t like cities, but I quite like Leeds. Apart from not being enough refuse collectors, it’s a lovely place.On my first trip to Leeds, I found Roundhay Park and I met another chap with a dog. We worked out we were both at the same Bruce Springsteen concert in 1984 – in the park. That was the last time I was in Roundhay Park! I paint. I’m painting that view from up there. I have too much time on my hands. I’m one of those annoying people who disappeared from employment during the pandemic!
Sue has been working at the farm for 20 years as administrator and accounts officer. She has seen lots of changes over the years. She shares some of the things she particularly likes about the farm.
There is the bike workshop where people donate bikes and we re-build them and sell them. We also do repairs. We have chickens, but unfortunately because of bird flu they have to be kept inside. We have to find them things to do to keep them entertained! For example they like pecking at CDs, so we put them on string and hang them up so birds have something to do.
My favourite thing about working here is the lambing. We have approximately forty lambs each year. They are initially kept inside with their mothers and then (depending on the weather) they graze outside and all go into the top field. They are eventually sold on to the market for their meat.
People can buy a vegetable-box each week, with freshly grown produce. The majority of people come and collect their boxes but we do deliver to cafes and things like that. We also have an adult disabilities programme, a lot of outdoor work which people really enjoy, doing conservation and looking after the animals.
Helen is a childminder from Chapel Allerton who has been coming to the farm for over 30 years. She is alongside one of her young charges on the day we visit.
I used to come when my own children were young. It’s always been an oasis of green and beauty and calm. I’ve been a childminder for nearly 40 years now. I’ve always brought children here. We are here at least once a week. In the summer, it’s much more. I like the fact that it’s a beautiful green space in inner city Leeds. I love to show children where animals are and what they look like and sound like and show them how things grow. It’s just a lovely place.
It’s not a huge space and there’s so much crammed into it, with the tadpoles in the pond at the back and the wild strawberries at the top and wild raspberries, it’s just wonderful. The children are
allowed to pick them and eat them. They all love the alpacas and the lambing. The lambs are wonderful. We bring picnics. We can spend a whole day here, with the older children in the summer holidays. We have wellies and waterproofs on and we go digging for treasure in the stream. It’s such a lovely place and the staff are so lovely. Also the fact that the children can see a whole diverse group of people across society working here, it’s wonderful.
A HISTORY OF MEANWOOD VALLEY URBAN FARM
by David Smith