Additional grazing ground, gifted from the Ulster Wildlife Trust, will make the West Belfast farm more accessible to local families, boosting cross-community relations in the area and increasing opportunities for local children to interact with animals.
With a herd including goats and a sheep, the five year old farm has had a positive effect on the health and well-being of families in one of Belfast’s interface areas.
Young farm volunteer, Michael Og Gaskin, said: “The farm provides a place in the area for young people to socialise with each other.”
Young farmer, Shannagh, added: “I like to feed the animals and take the goats walking around the bog meadows, it’s really fun.”
St James Community Forum Volunteer, Damien Lindsay, said: “The new land was fenced and secured by the Housing Executive through a very generous grant.
“It’s made the farm nearly twice as big and it has really benefitted the local community.”
Housing Executive West Belfast Area Manager, Paddy Kelly, added: “We are proud to support such a worthy project.
“By securing extra space for St James Farm, we hope to help facilitate positive cross-community relations in the area for generations to come and allow young people a rare opportunity to interact with farm animals in an urban setting.”
Plans are in place to further upgrade and develop the farm into to a modern community facility.
Work is due to start on a barn with pens, toilets, a kitchen and community space for workshops and courses.
The next phase of the expansion will involve landscaping, containing raised beds, a poly tunnel and relaxation garden and a barbeque area.
This will create a modern hub in the centre of the St James community.