Kind-hearted Merton ‘neigh’bours step in to help Deen City Farm animals in face of council cuts

Owls, ponies and pigs are being saved by neighbourly goodwill donations as Merton Council is set to announce cuts to the Deen City Farm’s funding.

The farm, a registered charity based in Colliers Wood, relies on the council for just under a quarter of its half a million pounds annual running costs, but this funding will be be cut over the next few years.

People have been donating items from an Amazon wishlist set up by the farm, buying everything from brooms and rakes to feeding bowls and wheelbarrows, in response to the farm’s plight.

“It’s been fantastic and will certainly ensure that we are here in the long term,” said Simon Lynn, operations manager.

“It’s really important that people living in the city get an opportunity to come somewhere like this.

“A lot of our visitors, especially young ones, may never have seen a cow or a chicken, or where their food comes from.”

Local authority funding is now £10,000 less than it was in 1993-94. The farm was cut 12% in 2011-12 and the same level of cuts is proposed for the next two years.

As well as the wishlist, a donations page has been set up on the farm’s website, and a petition is being organised by the farm’s volunteers and staff.

Ben Cheetham, lead petitioner and farm project manager said: “Trying to maintain our core operation by creating project upon project to bring in income will result in an unstable farm that will eventually come crashing down.

“We have re-launched some of our services and tightened belts wherever we can, but there comes a time when they can’t go any tighter.”

The four-and-a-half acre farm is very popular with local school groups and hires several volunteers with learning disabilities for vocational work.

Open all year round, Deen City also has a stable yard full of horses and ponies and offers riding lessons on a floodlit outdoor arena.

It houses more than 100 animals, many of which are rare breeds, including the popular Oxford Sandy and Black pigs Penelope and Amelia.

“We have a lot of animals here, but for many people their favourite is Edna the barn owl. She is out and flying every day and it is very special for people seeing an owl for the first time,” said Mr Lynn.

Related Articles