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Londoners Take Up Lunchtime Farming As Part Of Midtown’s Innovative Urban Farming Programme

26 August 2014

Today sees the launch of an innovative lunchtime farming scheme, involving the unlikely combination of central London workers and urban chickens. The programme provides a way for employees of the area to work with their local organisations.

Providing an oasis of calm (apart from the clucking) in the centre of Midtown, the first of its kind inmidtown Chicken Coop at Coram’s Fields was established by inmidtown - representing the interests of 570 businesses in Bloomsbury, Holborn and St Giles – as an innovative way to give businesses in the area the opportunity to support their local community and give their employees the chance to enhance their wellbeing and learn new skills.

The Chicken Coop forms part of inmidtown’s ongoing programme of Lunchtime Farming initiatives, which aims to give something meaningful and useful back to the Midtown community. This includes its vegetable roof gardens and beehives, which provide food and honey to kitchens across Midtown.

With ten chickens up for grabs for sponsorship, inmidtown is calling for all businesses – from multi-national corporations to independent SMEs within the Midtown area - to take up the challenge to sponsor, name and volunteer their employees' time to look after their very own chicken. A donation of £500 a year will cover the chicken’s care, food bills and veterinary costs. This new spin on Corporate Social Responsibility will see employees take an hour a week to feed the hens, collect eggs, as well as tending to the vegetable beds around the chicken coop, providing the perfect place to wind down.

Mishcon de Reya are one of the first businesses to take up the challenge and sponsor their very own corporate chicken, called Meghen de Laya, who is qualified in Eggployment, Liteggation and Real Eggstate law.

Lisa Tremble, External Affairs Director at Mishcon de Reya said: "We are proud to sponsor our chicken 'Meghen de Laya' at Coram Fields City Farm. It is one of several projects we are involved with as part of our new Mishcon Green Fund, which was set up to support local environmental and social projects. Tending to the chickens is a great way for volunteers from Mishcon to take time out of their work schedule to give something back.”

Tass Mavrogordato, inmidtown Chief Executive Officer, adds: “Our key objective is to make Bloomsbury, Holborn and St Giles a quality environment in which to work and live, a vibrant area to visit and a profitable place to do business. A number of businesses in the area have been inspired by our beekeeping and vegetable growing projects but do not have the space to run a similar scheme. We hope that our inmidtown Chicken Coop will give such businesses another way to get involved.”

The Grange Holborn Hotel, the first hotel in the Midtown area to take produce from the Chicken Coop says: Mary Doogan, CSR & Group General Manager, Grange Hotels: “Grange Hotels are delighted to take part in the inmidtown Chicken Coop as we are committed to buying locally and supporting local businesses. Not only does this fantastic initiative reduce our carbon footprint and impact on the environment, but it gives us the opportunity to offer the freshest organic produce to our guests.”

Octavia Holland, Director at Coram’s Fields says: “We have had such tremendous support and excitement about the Chicken Coop at Coram’s Fields. It really demonstrates how inmidtown’s work with a local community organisation can inspire businesses in the community to create benefits that have a lasting impact on their workers.”

Caring for chickens has also proven to have a positive effect on a person’s health and wellbeing, according to latest findings. Georgia Martin, of the charity Pets as Therapy, says that the physical benefits of animal contact include, “a reduction of high blood pressure, depressive symptoms, physical and psychological stress, and increased motivation and confidence. Interacting with companion animals is becoming increasingly recognised as a valid therapeutic intervention and is supported by the World Health Organisation.”

Dr Carri Westgarth, Research Fellow in the Institute of Infection and Global Health and School of Veterinary Science at the University of Liverpool, adds: “There is increasing interest in the area of “social capital” and the role animals can play in bringing people together within communities. These chickens can potentially affect the health and wellbeing of the people who look after them in all these different ways.”

For detailed profiles on each of the chickens in the inmidtown Chicken Coop please go to http://inmidtown.org/chickens/.

How interacting with animals may have benefits for our health

1. The “Biophilia hypothesis” - Humans have an innate need to be around nature and being with animals and within the environments in which we case for animals can help fulfill that need.

2. The “social-support hypothesis” - The friendship and support that animals provide us with act as a buffer to the stresses and strains of daily life.

3. The “physical activity hypothesis” - Caring for animals encourages us to be more physically active, which is well-known to improve not just our physical health outcomes, but also mental wellbeing.

For further information please contact:

Mary Doogan,
Group General Manager
T: 020 7630 2000
E: mary.doogan@grangehotels.com

About Grange Hotels - www.grangehotels.com
Grange Hotels are London’s leading independent hotel group. Other recent accolades include ‘Best Small Hotel Company 2013’ (Business Travel Awards), ‘Hotelier of the Year’ (ABA 2013) and ‘Highly Commended’ in London Loves Excellence Awards 2013. Grange Hotels have a long-standing commitment with London’s arts, cultural and sporting scenes. The Group offers luxury accommodation, state-of-the art conference and events and award-winning Health Clubs and Spas.