Goats, green space and an inner-city escape

April is a monumental month. The sun has put his hat on, even if the snow keeps making an appearance too. Pub gardens are finally open for much-needed refreshments. We’ve welcomed customers back into our SIRPLUS stores, market stalls and local neighbourhoods. And just around the corner is Earth Day, an important reminder that whilst we can welcome back the slow return to ‘normal’, we need to think twice about going back to ‘business as usual’. 

Since the 1970s, April 22nd has been a landmark in the landscape of climate action. A unifying day each and every year, that aims to further active progress towards a greener future for all. A call to action to talk about how we can conserve, restore and protect nature in meaningful ways.

Henry likes a call to action. Since seeing those shirtmakers offcuts, ripe for reusing, he’s always got something brewing. An idea, a scheme, a wheel turning. As well as promoting the use of surplus fabrics, better materials and long-lasting wardrobes, the team here at SIRPLUS want to keep making a positive impact to the world around us. We’ve had a good time doing it too. 

We designed our limited range of extra jazzy Orange Wind Turbine Ties, in partnership with SolarAid - who work to combat poverty and climate change by providing solar lights in Malawi and Zambia. We partnered with The Global Penguin Society, who support conservation and solutions for sustainable activities in the oceans. This led to creating the dashing Burgundy Penguin Tie, complete with ‘pr-ice-less’ jokes on the back blade. We partnered with Sapling, a carbon positive drinks company, to plant trees for Black Friday. We also stocked their legendary vodka in-store, to help sponsor planting schemes in city environments, with a few head office taste tests just to be sure it was good as everyone claims. We can confirm it is.

For Earth Day this year, we put our heads together. We figured that green space has been fundamental to many of us in the previous year. Lockdown walks in the park, a quiet morning coffee in the garden, or even that lone tree on your street. It’s been a supportive, soothing presence through such an uprooting time. As a meaningful way to celebrate Earth Day, we wanted to support these green spaces within cities, that have helped so many through the pandemic. 

“I’ve got it.” Henry said “goats.”

What Henry meant, was that there’s a very special green space located within earshot of Big Ben, in the shadow of MI6 and just a swift cycle from our Kings Road store in Chelsea. Vauxhall City Farm, the brainchild of a committed community group in the 1970s, wanting to reclaim the local demolition spaces for social enterprise. Surrounded by high-rise blocks, this central open space filled with agriculture, animals (yes goats) and community projects is so much more than just a farm. It’s a place for communities to become empowered by their experience with nature. To enhance their health, well-being, and life chances. To teach youth groups about their relationship to the environment around them.  The animals themselves are a vehicle for a wide range of educational, recreational and therapeutic support programmes and activities. Relying on a team of committed volunteers, the farm could not survive and deliver these vital services for the local and wider London community without the support of donations and grants. 

So we decided to pay a visit for Earth Day, donning our hardiest overshirts and chinos combination for some agricultural insight. As well as the much-anticipated goats, we met Tom, Ben and Jerry - a trio of Alpacas donated by the wonderful Ben & Jerry’s ice cream company themselves. Blessed with sunshine, we were in awe of the staff and volunteers who make this little slice of tranquillity accessible and available for stressed-out Londoners from all walks of life. Witnessing the incredible facilities, opportunities and wellbeing Vauxhall City Farm provides, was both inspiring and restorative. Green space and connecting with the natural world, the central motive of Earth Day, really is magical. A much-needed tonic for our team, who have been navigating the white knuckle ride that was the past year much like so many other businesses. In true SIRPLUS fashion, we also had a really top time.

To help support the amazing work of the volunteers of Vauxhall City Farm, we donated a portion of our profits on our visit. Henry will be happy to know that it will go towards plenty of bales of hay for those lovely goats. We look forward to more visits in the future. 

Vauxhall City Farm is now open to the public Tuesday - Sunday, 10.30 am – 3.30 pm. Entry is free of charge. We highly recommend it. 

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