The Woodland Farm Trust is an 89-acre working city farm nestled on Shooter’s Hill. It begun as a forest called Bushy Lees Wood that covered 122 acres: the farm was created from these dense woods in the early 19th century. It was then purchased by the Royal Arsenal Co-operative Society, and began farming pigs, barley and hay. Woodlands Farm became a ‘model’ pig farm for intensive pig farming. In 1937 it closed and active farming ceased on the farm, although there were still farmers living on the land.
In 1983, the farm was threatened by plans to build the East London River crossing through the farmland and Oxleas Woods, but these plans were dropped in 1993 due to opposition from local groups including People Against the River Crossing. Finally, in 1995, The Woodlands Farm Trust was founded, aiming to regenerate the farm leasing the land on a 999 year lease. Since then, Woodlands Farm Trust has continued to develop with renovations to buildings, increase in animal stock, development of education at the farm, and new classrooms.
The farm is perfect for a walk on a sunny day, as there are paths that stretch past the cowsheds and stables into the woods. To make use of the bountiful resources on the farm and promote new willow growth, Creative nature HQ has begun a relationship to begin possible outdoor woodworking spaces for courses on the trusts land. By working with the board of the trust, we have been able to find two possible woodland spaces that needed some love, which we have been clearing and cleaning for the past few months.
Nestled in a cozy ring of trees, the first space lies next to a small stream, where clay deposits create a nice space for natural pottery. The second is tucked back past grazing fields for the sheep on the farm, and provides a more private experience for woodworking. Both spaces provide enough resources to allow for sustainable carving practice, as the Farm Trust hosts a woodpile where local tree surgeons put discarded wood. This wood is perfect for carving as it is fresh and has enough moisture to be easily worked by hand.
We are excited about the potential of this space and wish to strengthen our relationship with the Woodland Farm Trust throughout the next few seasons. More details about our outdoor carving workshops are coming soon in a variety of other outdoor locations - so keep your eyes peeled! To learn more about the trust, you can find more information on their website here. For now, we will be back out in the woods somewhere!