Land boost for community food growing projects
Overgrown grazing land in the city that once was full of market gardens 100 years ago will be returned to its former glory thanks to a partnership between the City Council and two community groups.
The council is close to finalising negotiations to give Feed Bristol and Sims Hill Shared Harvest a lease for a 14.5 acre-plot of grazing land at Sims Hill, near Stoke Park off the M32.
Welcoming the news Council Leader Barbara Janke said: “Bristol is leading the way in finding opportunities to increase the amount of locally sourced food, and maximising the amount of land under food production in the city. These are exactly the type of projects we want to see in the city because both are exploring dynamic and co-operative ways of producing food, and combining this with encouraging more individuals to grow and prepare their own.”
Sims Hill Shared Harvest will be a 7-acre community supported agriculture enterprise. This is a popular farming model where members come together and invest in the running of a farm, sharing the risk and sharing the harvest. Members commit to covering the running costs of the farm in exchange for an equal share in the produce.
Recruitment for members will start next week, with the first of two public meetings to present the detail of the project’s plans (dates and times in notes to editors below).
Shared Harvest member James Adamson said: “We want to help re-establish Bristol’s historic local and seasonal food supply chains. Our vision is of a member-owned community supported agriculture initiative, which will help to reclaim Bristol’s historic and fertile agricultural land. Bristol City Council is supporting the project with a generous offer of land and we are now exploring funding options for Sims Hill.”
The Feed Bristol project will involve experienced horticulturalists working with volunteers to grow food together. It will have plots that can be used by people with disabilities and there will be some traditional allotments. It potentially could involve about one thousand people.
But most of the site will be devoted to large communal growing areas where people with little experience and time can take some part in growing their own food. For every hour people spend, they will receive a token that will entitle them to ‘buy’ some food from Feed Bristol.
Steve Micklewright of Avon Wildlife Trust, co-ordinators of the project, said: “We want the ethos of Feed Bristol to spread far and wide across the city. A crucial part of our work will be to change the food culture of the city. Campaigns will be organised to promote local, wildlife friendly, sustainable food. Staff and volunteers will work with community groups and schools to support them in growing their own food.”
The two projects have submitted a joint bid to the Big Lottery Fund.