Stanley Ward, the resident farm technician at The Little Farm in Tilden Park, had been managing the farm, and its charges, for 13 years. Known affectionately as “Farmer Stanley,” Ward is a quiet, steady presence at the farm, overseeing all aspects of its operations and keeping up with its daily chores. Whether he’s shearing the sheep, milking the cows, feeding, cleaning, or breeding the animals in his care, Farmer Stanley does it all, even helping to deliver newborn animals when the need arises.
Originally from the United Kingdom, Ward grew up in Brixton — a city akin to East Oakland in its socio-economic climate. “I’m a city boy, born and bred,” Ward said, smiling. He learned the ropes of his future career working as a hill farmer in Wales for 16 years before taking a break and travelling to Sri Lanka and India where he worked intermittently as a safari guide. He met his wife, an American, in India and their union brought them to the States.
Settling in Berkeley, Ward started working for the East Bay Regional Park District as a carpenter. Then, when the Little Farm advertised a position for a farmer, “I applied for it,” Ward recalled. “There weren’t any other applicants with real farm experience and I do it all — general animal husbandry and farm maintenance—and I got the job.”
His tenure at the Little Farm continues to be gratifying, offering challenging and deeply rewarding work. “It’s the smallness,” Ward explained. “Most farming is industrial and large-scale. Here, we have small numbers of Heritage Breeds — old-fashioned, pre-industrial, farmyard breeds like Milking Shorthorn cows, Black Welsh Mountain sheep, Berkshire pigs, and Alpine goats. They’re all unusual, minority breeds, like vintage cars.”
Under his stewardship, The Little Farm breeds all its own animals. “They’re all pure-bred and registered,” Ward declared. He also manages the farm’s volunteer program, training a group of up to 20 young volunteers in the art — and work — of small-scale farming. “It’s a very, very satisfying part of my job,” Ward said. “The kids are great, it’s great to see them learning about the animals, and they help me with my chores,” he said, laughing.
Outside of work, Ward hikes in Tilden with his border collies, rides his quarter horse, and spends time with his 11-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Juliet. He continues to appreciate the beauty and diversity of Berkeley, qualities he encounters daily at work. “My job puts me in contact with so many remarkably nice people from all walks of life and backgrounds,” Ward explained. “I feel tremendously lucky to live and work in such a community.”