The City of Bristol is endowed with an extensive strip of the highest quality agricultural land around its southern border. It is the home to numerous small scale producers and growing organisations. So, what do the City Council decide the do – why push a bus-way through it of course! Humphrey Lloyd is one of the growers based in the area and cultivates land right next to the proposed route.
So, OK a bus way is perhaps better than a road in that it is intended as a system of ‘efficient’ mass transit – not sure I really understand the ‘ins’ and ‘outs’ of bus-way vs road – but even if we make that assumption, is it really that positive a move that it can outweigh the use of good land for local food production. Personally I just don’t see it, seems a decision which just beggars belief. Why oh why can we not set the bar high enough so that we can have both bus-way, in an appropriate place, and retain food production capacity….but of course other routes may have had more voters resident on them than growing land does!
My aim in this blog is to celebrate alternative growing and farming, but in some cases it is just about impossible, and I think would wrong, to not voice some criticism. The proposed development makes the land feel adulterated, and for many it presents a real practical impact as I will report in a future blog on Sims Hill Shared Harvest.
My first visit though was to Humphrey and his Edible Futures operation. Most of his 3 acre or so site is producing organic vegetables and salads which are then sold to Bristol residents. However he also aims to enhance local food systems by working with community groups and local residents to plant edible gardens. Thus on part of the site he propoagates new plants – fruit and nut trees and perennial vegetables – and they are then used to create edible community gardens and transform marginal land into productive space. The site is also the location for workshops run by Humphrey on plant propagation and growing to provide the skills needed to increase the self sufficiency of personal gardens.
Last year was Humphrey’s first at the site, having moved in over the winter of 2014/15. The day I was there he was being helped by his mate, Sid who was hoping to spend a season there and be able to learn enough so as to eventually set up his own operation. They are a couple of fit young guys, the speed at which they worked the ground with hand tools, set up bean stakes and got the young bean plants in to the ground was quite awesome!!!
In the meantime…….a whole host of security guards sat behind a security fence marking off the bus-way route in anticipation of the contractors moving in, and mind numbingly watching on. There was some humour in the situation though. If you moved towards to the fence, then as you approached so security persons got up off their seats and approached it from the opposite direction. As you walked away, then so the security, also moved back to their seats. Bit like an elastic game of yo-yo! Hey ho, its only tax payers money!
PS. Perhaps of more immediate concern to Humphrey and Sid was that a couple of weeks after my visit, a late frost wiped out the entire bean planting I had them set out!!!
For more on Edible Futures see the website
[Double clicking on any of the images below will open up that image up in a slideshow format. You can then run the slide show using ‘left’ and ‘right’ buttons. Personally I prefer to go also to full screen having opened the slide show – F11 on my PC, don’t forget to get out of full screen is the same button , not ESC]