10 Questions with Jo Pertwee

December 12, 2019 by Tor Park

We caught up with Jo Pertwee, one of our longest standing Trustees, to find out more about her experience at the farm. Read on to find out which animal she would love to take home, her top tips for visitors and why she would recommend getting involved with a community project.


  1. How did you first hear about Stepney City Farm?

I first stumbled across the farm, Stepping Stones as it was then, in 2005 on a long walk when I was on maternity leave. However, I didn’t hear about Stepney City Farm until Bessie Venables (a mutual trustee) told me of her involvement.

  1. How long have you been working/volunteering here?

I’ve been volunteering since 2011. Now I feel old!

  1. What made you want to work/volunteer here?

Bessie Venables! Bessie approaches me and asked me if I would get involved. The farm, having been entirely volunteer led, was about to start recruiting staff and the board wanted to have the advice of someone with HR and recruitment experience. I had just started working on a more part-time and flexible basis so it seemed perfect timing – an opportunity that would make use of the skills and give back to my local community. I grew up in rural Norfolk surrounded by farms and with a garden in which we grew some of our own fruit and vegetables so was excited about the prospect of being involved in a project that brought some of this to an urban environment.

  1. What’s your favourite thing about Stepney City Farm?

The green, open space alive with the voices of the various animals.

  1. What have you learnt from your experience here?

I’m a little embarrassed to say I didn’t know much about Tower Hamlets or our local community when I first got involved so learning about the history of the borough and polarisation within the community – in terms of income and health, for example. Involvement in community projects is eye-opening as it takes you out of the home – work – family / friends bubble you would otherwise exist in.

  1. If there was one thing you could take home from the farm, what would it be?

The ferrets! But I’m not allowed so it’ll have to be cake from the Humble Bee Café.

  1. What do you recommend that other people try at the farm?

I would suggest just taking time over a visit to really wander round and soak it all in. Spend time visiting and reading about the various animals, explore the growing areas and watch what’s going on in the Rural Artists’ studios. You can top your visit off with a trip to the Humble Bee Café and, on a Saturday, there’s the weekly market.

  1. What are your favourite animals here?

The ferrets (as above!). And the goats.

  1. Is there anything you would like to see more of?

Not sure if there’s anything I’d like to see more of but I’m really looking forward to seeing how the land we’ve got back from Crossrail is reincorporated into the farm and how we can use this to further reach out and engage with the community around us. And we’re always looking to hear from people interested to get involved as trustees – or other volunteers.

  1. And finally, three words that describe the farm to you?

Educational. Escape. Community.


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