Dublin Port Company is looking at putting a city farm on some of its land in East Wall.
Some of its staff went to look at six city farms in London recently, says the company’s communications manager Charlie Murphy.
“They seem to work pretty well,” he said. “They’re educational tools as well as everything else.”
Bit of Payback
There aren’t any city farms in Ireland at the moment, according to a study by the Dublin Port Company.”
The closest you’d come to one is at Airfield Trust in Dundrum, a privately owned petting farm, or Newbridge House, Donabate, another petting farm run by Fingal County Council.
Some have been pushing for an urban farm in St Anne’s Park in Clontarf, which was announced in July 2017.
That’s still in the works, says independent Councillor Damian O’Farrell. It was slowed a bit by some local opposition and parking concerns. “But it’s still being considered,” he said.
City farms in London were set up in the late 1970s and early 1980s in response to the demolition of buildings “or general urban decline, leaving many derelict sites which triggered local groups to take responsibility for their area”, the port company’s study says.
Hackney City Farm was earlier a lorry park. The land at Spitalfields was a former railway goods depot, but now offers free entry to see animals like donkeys, horses, and sheep, as well domestic animals like cats, dogs, and rabbits.
City farms are also places where people can grow food, run workshops, and link in with local schools. That’s the kind of thing that Dublin Port Company wants to do, says Murphy.
It could cost up to €1 million if it goes ahead, he says.
Though small compared to city farms in London – the East Wall site measures just one acre – there’s room for expansion, said Murphy.
“We’re also looking at the Men’s Shed down at East Wall and having them as part of the project as well,” he says. “If we’re going to do it, we’re going to do it right.”
Independent Councillor Nial Ring says he welcomes the idea for a city farm. He announced it last week upon his election as lord mayor.
“I support this kind of corporate social responsibility,” says Ring. “It’ll be a great asset for the city and a great bit of payback from Dublin Port.”
“An Archaic Idea”
Some have already objected to the plan, though.
Laura Broxson of the National Animal Rights Association wrote to councillors last week to ask them to reject the idea.
“It is not a natural environment for any animal to be in, and it does nothing but serve to encourage the archaic idea that animals are merely for our entertainment,” she wrote.
It isn’t a good use of funds, she said.
Independent councillor Mannix Flynn agrees. “In this day and age it would not be appropriate to have something like this in the centre of the city,” says Flynn. “I’d be opposed to it.”
Flynn says he would prefer a children’s park or “city forest”. Or to take inner-city children to the countryside on day trips.
“Show them a natural setting rather than an artificial one,” says Flynn.
Lord Mayor Ring says, though, that he’d “be quite happy that this will be run quite professionally”.
Dublin Port Company is now looking to get public feedback, which can be sent by email to email@example.com.
It expects to submit a planning application to An Bord Pleanála in October this year.