Doncaster farm is trying to get people to ditch kebabs for kale

Bentley Urban Farm is a hidden green gem, offering to teach the community about growing sustainable fresh food.

Thursday, 30th May 2019, 1:20 pm
Updated Thursday, 30th May 2019, 3:57 pm
Strawberries grown at the farm.

Warren Draper, 50, is the founder and manager of the farm which is hidden away just off the high street.

He said: “We are a permaculture based natural ecology.

Strawberries grown at the farm.

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“We design human food systems which do not damage the local ecology.”

Warren started on his eco journey by being a road protester but three years ago decided to set up the Urban Farm in Bentley.  

They grow a fast array of species in the garden, too many to count according to Warren.

Which in return attracts a whole range of insects, noticeably hundreds of bumble bees which are attracted to the Phacelia flowers planted all over the farm.  

Warren Draper, founder.

Other notable visitors are the dragonfly nymphs at the pond and the occasional kestrel.

As well as his love for nature Warren wanted to set up the farm to help out the local community.

He said: “Food poverty is a big issue, Bentley is the third highest area of Doncaster that required food bank donations last year.

“It’s an area where it’s easier to buy kebabs not kale.”

Honey bee on flower.

But Warren and his team of volunteers are trying to change that, one of their schemes is their wonky veg boxes.

Which are a seasonal offer of rare and unusual plants you can’t find in the local supermarket, the profits from these boxes go back into the garden or to providing free boxes for under privileged members of the community.

“It’s a poor area but we have all the resources to thrive here if we can just change people’s attitudes.

“Doncaster is a Peri-urban paradise and most people don’t even know it,” he continued.

Kevin Rodgers, co-operator.

Doncaster has a rare ecology because of the micro climates it has due to the town sitting in a valley.

This makes the soil some of the most diverse in the North of England.

Warren wants to use this to the farms advantage and grow unusual produce to sell to restaurants and foodies.

Kevin Rodgers, 37, co-operator at the farm joined for the health benefits that being in nature can give.

He said: “I was in a position where my mental health was suffering, I was in a stressful job and had just been diagnosed with diabetes.”

“The farm gave me a space where I could relax and I learnt to grow plants and food.”

Flowers on the farm.

“I’ve seen a great deal of improvement in myself, having this alternative space and being able to be creative and inside nature has made a massive difference.”

The farm aims to show people the benefits of growing produce and stepping away from the ‘fast food’ lifestyle.

“No one expects you to be an expert here, we all learn as we go.

“You can learn how to grow food at home in your own garden, it re-unites people back with food,” Kevin continued.

As well as Warren, Kevin is passionate about teaching the local community about gardening and fresh produce.

His advice for beginners is to try to grow a radish, they’re relatively simple to plant and only take a month until they can be eaten.

“In central Bentley you are only ever one minute away from a take away.

“But there isn’t one single greengrocers in the entire town.

“We understand that people sometimes need a quick and easy food option but it’s detrimental to their health and our whole community.

“We know that the stress of modern life pushes people towards fast foods but we want to help show people there is a different way.”

If you would like to get involved with the Urban Farm they’re looking for volunteers.

You can pop down on Fridays 10am - 2pm or Sunday’s 1 – 4pm and get stuck in pulling weeds, planting seeds and harvesting fresh vegetables.

They will also be running a series of workshops over the Summer including topics such as seed bombs, generative culture, re-wilding and bedding.

As well as pizza lunches, where you can pick your own toppings off the farm and then cook your own meals in the farms own pizza oven.

Strawberries grown on the farm.
Vegetables growing on the farm.
The green house on the farm.