Sundial discs – designs

It’s been 40 years since volunteers first cleared the ground for Windmill Hill City Farm to begin. We are celebrating by creating a legacy – a sundial that will be a permanent fixture at the front of the farm. The sundial is operated by you and your shadow will tell the time!


We have invited our local community to take part in creating the designs for our sundial discs. Over the last three months children and adults have been sharing their ideas by drawing them, writing them down or chatting about them. Here are some of the people who have taken part.

All the design ideas have then been worked on by local artist Tom. Tom has worked on a few projects at the farm, like the brass rubbings trail. He has lived in Bedminster for fourteen years he says ‘I love coming to the farm, it’s a vibrant place to meet people. My favourite thing to do, is walk around the gardens and allotments – it’s an inspiring and uplifting space.’

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The Sundial Discs

Starting at 7am we have the rat – the rat is an important symbol in the history of the farms beginnings. Before the local community in Windmill Hill began working together to build the farm the land was filled with rubbish and over-run with rats. To find out more about the history of the farm click here.

At 8am we chose to work with the dandelion clock – a symbol of the passing of time here. The sundial has been chosen to mark the 40th year that the farm has been running. People in the community recognise the farm has withstood the passing of time and is a fundamental part of the local community

9am is the symbol of the windmill – an iconic symbol of the farm and the local area. There is a painting from 1811 by Lt Col William Booth, held at Bristol museum thought to be the only recorded evidence of the original windmill on Windmill Hill. The windmill is thought to have stood at the corner of Windmill Hill and Somerset Terrace

Ellie (13) drew the original design, she has been visiting the farm since she was a baby. Ellie’s mum used to volunteer at the farm when she was a teenager and their family always love the festivals and fairs here.

10am is an idea that the volunteers at the farm felt strongly about – the tools of the trade a spade and a pile of compost. Much as Windmill Hill city farm is celebrated for its community work it is important to remember it is still a farm. The work that goes into looking after the animals and site here is huge and it couldn’t be done without the amazing work of the volunteers.

11am this design is a cockerel – joyously singing his heart out at the beginning of a new day. Beccy is the artist behind this design – she has been involved in city farms for many years – from playing on the derelict land that was to become WHCF as a child, to a student placement at St Werburghs City Farm, and then regularly bringing her son to Windmill Hill when he was little (he’s now in his 20s). She was youth development worker for the Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens and visited city farms across the country.

12am  – The farm would not be where it is today without the local community working together side by side. This design is a combination of many ideas of how to symbolise the hundreds of people who have influenced the farm over the last 40 years.

Photo from the archives.

1pm time for lunch – the café is a celebrated part of the farm and many people come and enjoy the amazing cakes and lunches that are made here.

2pm  – One of the most popular designs that we received were pig pictures. Here are two of them – people who visit the farm love seeing the pigs.

When there are piglets in the farm yard there is a lot of laughter. From all the feedback we received the most important part of the design was that the picture of the pig had pig poo in it.

3pm – a symbol of a bee, this is an acknowledgement of all the work the gardeners and allotment keepers at the farm carry out. We know how important bees are to the community and the world at large. Here at the farm people do take the time to look after the plants we grow and the wildlife around it.


4pm –  When we asked visitors at the farm what their favourite animal was, a huge amount of people told us it was the goats – the pygmy goats. Some of the local children and adults in the community have fond memories of walking the goats around the farm. Some of the older members of the community remember a time when the goats from the city farm used to escape and turn up in the ASDA car park!


5pm –  Young children and toddlers are the most frequent visitors to the farm, it’s such a special place for them to explore. The nursery and farm adventurers are among a huge variety of activities’ that are available here. Many of the young children love the fact that here at the farm they can use the toilets by themselves and wash their hands without having to be lifted up or stand on a step. Small children love washing their hands at the basins by the toilets and for some it is one of their first steps into independence. Another symbol of the love and care that the farm provides for the community that visit here.

6pm  – an overwhelming response to the question ‘what does the farm mean to you?’ was ‘Being listened to.’ ‘Communicating to people.’ ‘Taking the time to talk’. The symbol for 6pm is to show how important it is to take the time to talk to each other. The thousands of teas and coffees shared and chats happening all over the farm is what keeps everything working together.


7pm  – A duck with wellies, this image symbolises the spirit of fun around the farm. The ducks are an ever popular animal to visit, many stories have been created around the ducks and their secret adventures. The duck wearing wellies is also a reminder that with a bit of hard work dreams can come true. Below is a photo from 1976 when having a duck pond at the farm was an idea, a dream of what could be on the wasteland.


The discs will be in place next week ready for the Winter fair – December 10th –  as well as being a sundial these discs will work as brass rubbings. You can take away the designs and make your own stories up from them or jump from disc to disc and tell a story as you go! Windmill Hill City Farm has always been a place where imagination, play and community spirit is strong. These brass discs etched with designs from the local community are a wonderful legacy and reminder of what keeps the farm strong.

Once again it has been a joy for me to work with the local community and the inspiring warm-hearted people who work so hard to make the farm the safe haven it is for the community. May we all enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of the farm for many more years to come.


Anita MacCallum


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