THE founders of Oxford City Farm said they had an 'amazing' first autumn harvest day.

Dozens of old friends, first-time farmers, children and old-age-pensioners leant a hand with the harvest on Saturday.

Significantly, trustees of the charity said a large number were people who had never been to the site in Florence Park before.

Founder member Lucie Mayer said: "It was an amazing day: it reminded me of why were doing all of this."

Among those helping out were garden designer Barry Hawkins and his two boys Leon, four, and Jack, who is nearly two.

Mr Hawkins, 34, explained the family only moved to nearby Campbell Road two months ago so he jumped at the opportunity to get on board with the health-boosting harvest work and meet the neighbours.

He said: "It was great – you get to know the community and we eat organic veg ourselves so I like having the kids outdoors and knowing where their food comes from.

"I also wanted to learn a bit about growing veg because I'm hoping to start growing some.

"The boys seemed to love getting their hands dirty, I got to contribute my skills and I picked up some new ones: it was win, win, win."

Another first timer, Mark Lorenzo, said simply: "I came out of curiosity and it's a great way to spend Saturday morning – this is the future."

Work has been forging ahead at the city farm ever since the group signed the lease on their land in January.

After 10 years of plotting, the volunteers finally agreed a 40-year deal with landowner Oxfordshire County Council on the 2.3 acres of land off Cornwallis Road between Temple Cowley and Iffley.

In the first months they borrowed a small drove of pigs from Coopers Oxford Pork near Didcot who have been digging up the tough soil, chewing up the roots and making it ready to cultivate.

They also planted their first fruit and veg – including cucumbers, potatoes and pumpkins – and have started building paths around the city and the composter toilet.

On Saturday alone the volunteers harvested 120 pumpkins, two wheelbarrow loads of cucumbers and several sacks of spuds.

Before the summer the group raised some £14,000 in a crowdfunding campaign to bring electricity and water on-site, which will eventually enable them to have a proper kitchen, bathroom, toilets and, one day, a proper reception and even a shop to sell their produce.

And yesterday we revealed they have also managed to get their hands on 18,000 unwanted bricks from the demolition of Oxford's old Westgate Centre, which they will be able to use to build some of those facilities.

With all that success in the bag, Lucie Mayer, who is also chairman of trustees, said Saturday's heroic harvest effort made her feel the farm had finally arrived as part of the fabric of Oxford.

The mum-of-two, who also works as a nurse at East Oxford's Helen and Douglas House children and young people's hospice, said: "It was such a great first day back.

"We had lots of old faces but lots of new people too: we had quite a few from the care home come and have a look; people who hadn't been in before.

"It finally felt how we always wanted it to feel, with people from birth to old age; kids sitting around eating tomatoes: it felt really significant, particularly after our summer break.

"One woman came with her two kids and said 'I was really stressed and bad tempered but I felt relaxed as soon as I came here."

The farmers are now preparing for a festival on the site on Saturday, October 7, to celebrate their fantastic first year.

More details will be announced in due course.