Last week, on a surprisingly mild day in November, the first UK CyberCube volunteer day took place outdoors at the Mudchute Farm and Park in the Isle of Dogs. It was a fantastic day out, with some rewarding physical labour and new skills learnt.
We were tasked with important upkeep - clearing paths, cutting back trees, improving water management, and yes, shovelling manure from the animals. It's amazing that, so close to the heart of the UK financial centre in Canary Wharf, there is an oasis where Dexter cows, Tamworth pigs and Pigmy goats can roam freely.
The farm is a community facility and free to visitors. It serves some of the poorest areas of the UK in Tower Hamlets and surrounding neighbourhoods.
We spent the day under the watchful eye of a spritely 82-year-old retired vicar, Peter. He showed us the ropes with pick-axes, pitchforks and cement trowels. The school children visiting that day were running around gleefully with joy in their faces, which of course is why it makes the work so valuable. We made a small contribution to a fabulous local community resource. The cows Twiglet and Kiri particularly appreciated the new run-out drainage solution.
The reasons we volunteered a working day for this are simple: it brings us together in a common cause, gives back (in, however, small a way) to the local community and provides both us and the farm a shared experience to reflect on. Thanks to Michelle, Peter, and the whole team at Mudchute Farm (www.mudchute.org) for hosting us. The aches and pains felt afterwards were well worth it!