Archive for ‘News’

May 11, 2019

Sims Hill Traineeship news

In Spring 2019 we ran a crowdfunder to start a brand new traineeship at Sims Hill.

grow sims hill even more

Sustainable agriculture is a vital industry, but it can be hard for new growers to develop their skills and find their feet. The average age of UK farmers is around 58, so we desperately need to make sure we have a new generation of growers who know how to work the land – and crucially, understand the techniques of sustainable land management to protect our soil, reduce our carbon footprint and ensure biodiversity into the future. There are lots of volunteering opportunities in sustainable agriculture, but relatively few entry-level grower positions that allow people to up-skill, learn on the job and get ready to take on bigger responsibilities.

We are delighted to announce that through generous donations from over 95 donors, we raised £4,361 through our crowdfunder. On top of this, we received an extra donation of £1,000 from the employee-owned architectural firm Stride Treglown. This means we achieved our target (hurray!) and have been able to start the Sims Hill Traineeship 2019.

thank you

The money raised is going towards:

  • Paying the wage of our trainee. We believe in paying trainees and interns for their work as an investment in their future and the future of the agricultural sector.
  • Paying for crucial training courses that support the practical experience gained at Sims Hill. Our growing team are a wealth of knowledge, but accredited, specific training (e.g. a First Aid course) to build knowledge and confidence will ensure a strong start in the industry.
  • Investing in the future of the traineeship. The increase in Sims Hill efficiency and productivity in 2019 (in part thanks to having the trainee on board) means that we hope to be able to fund the traineeship from our income in future years. This first year of seed funding means we can develop resilient and long term practices to support the traineeship, looking to 2020 and beyond.

We want to send huge thanks to everybody who shared news of our crowdfunder, supported or donated rewards or money to the traineeship. You have built a legacy that will live on in the land and landworkers.

With our raised funds, we acted quickly to advertise and interview for the 2019 traineeship post. We had an excellent caliber of applicants and are delighted to announce that our new trainee started on 7th May – with a day of planting 7,000 beetroot! We have confidence in their existing skills developed through volunteer roles, and their drive and willingness to learn for a future in sustainable agriculture.

Once again, thanks to everyone for supporting Sims Hill in our mission to make quality, nutritious food accessible – as consumers and growers – building a resilient, connected community in the Bristol area.

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April 23, 2019

Plastic-free farming

Plastic use

At Sims Hill we are always concerned to be as sustainable as possible. We take the following steps to reduce our plastic use:

  • No buying plastic bags for shares. We use either cotton/jute bags or net bags. The net bags are made of plastic but we are reusing the ones we receive from wholesalers to reduce our waste on the site, we do not buy these. We ask members to return their bags (net or cotton) so that we are always reusing these bags in a happy circular bag economy.
  • No bags on robust vegetables, which make up the majority of our crops. Veg like potatoes, cabbage, onions, carrots and other root veg come well protected by nature, we don’t need to add any extra packaging to them.
  • And most importantly: as a local Community Supported Agriculture scheme we are only producing the food each week that our members are actually going to take home. We are not stocking up shelves with food that will be put in the bin or go off before it even reaches someone’s home. This means we use massively less plastic than a supermarket – even the ones with “plastic free” sections.

Why are we not entirely “plastic free”?

We fully support the movement to go entirely zero-waste, and we are doing everything we can to reduce our plastic use in all aspects of the farm. However, as of Spring 2019 we still use “normal” plastic bags for our salad and delicate leaves. We have researched and tested various solutions, and are always looking for new ideas. At the moment this is what we have found.

Proposal 1: No bags.

If we didn’t use plastic bags for delicate green leaves (e.g. leaving them loose in crates), we have found that they go off too quickly and then are wasted. No one wants to turn up for their vegetables and find a big tray of squelchy compost or unsalvageable shriveled leaves – and this will happen within hours with the warm but damp conditions so common in our lovely south west. Food waste is also an enormous issue and massively damages the environment by wasting the work of the land.

Proposal 2: Paper bags.

We have also tested this, but the same issue of leaf deterioration occurs. We don’t want to be handing out bags of “pre-composted” salad leaves after we have worked so hard in the polytunnels to grow them!

Proposal 3: Recycle plastic bags from members.

Unfortunately, as a business we can’t reuse small plastic bags because of health and safety regulations. We simply aren’t allowed, as there could be a build up of dangerous bacteria and we do not want to harm the health of our members. We strongly encourage members to reuse the bags at home themselves, but as a business we are not allowed to do this.

Proposal 4: “Degradable” plastic bags.

Our farm manager James has done a lot of research on the newer alternatives to plastics, including speaking to council waste managers. “Degradable” plastic is currently not actually composted by local councils as their facilities cannot manage it. The material, although technically degradable, takes a long time to compost in a home composting system as the conditions are not right. So even though they are labelled as “degradable” they will not actually be degrading. They are also significantly more expensive than “normal” plastic bags.

Proposal 5: “Compostable” plastic bags.

Similar issues face “compostable” bags – they are not always composted by council sites or suitable for reasonable home composting. (See here for a BBC report on the issue in Wales). Also, at the moment “compostable” bags are sometimes made from sources that are themselves unsustainable or compete with food for land use. We do not want to be deforesting land in the sake of appearing more green. They are also often three times more expensive than “normal” plastic bags.

We think that in the near future, “compostable” plastic bags will become a viable alternative. We are actively keeping a look out for a good source of compostable plastic bags that come from forestry by-products so they are recycling a waste product, not competing for land. We will transition as soon as we find a source that is affordable and meets these sustainability criteria. We know other organisations locally and nationally are facing similar quandaries, so hopefully it is something that the sector can solve soon.

Proposal 6: “Normal” plastic bags.

So, we are stuck with “normal” bags for the moment. Our approach is:

  • Only use them when absolutely necessary. Delicate salad and green leaves that will not survive without protection.
  • Only package the number of leaves required each week. This is a massively important part of reducing waste, and a huge benefit from being a community veg delivery scheme rather than a supermarket.
  • Encourage our members to reuse the plastic bags they receive at home.
  • Support the “eco-brick” initiative. This initiative gives some confidence that the plastic is not going to end up in landfill. See a video on how to make them and check out local organisation “Bricking it” to find your nearest drop off point.
  • As a last resort, the “normal” plastic bags we currently use can be recycled at supermarket recycling points. However, it is difficult to know where this plastic ends up so we encourage members to do their own reuse actions or eco-bricks and consider this as a final resort.

Here’s hoping and acting for a plastic-free future for all of us and the earth.

 

April 8, 2019

Seasonal Trainee Grower

Job Title: Seasonal Trainee Grower – Sims Hill Shared Harvest, Bristol

Work Hours: 2 days a week by negotiation (8 hours per day)

Duration of post: 23 weeks starting in May

Pay rate: £8.21/hour

Closing date for applications: 19th April 2019

Interviews: week commencing 22nd April 2019

Sims Hill Shared Harvest is a Community Supported Agriculture cooperative based in Frenchay on the edge of Bristol. We are seeking applicants for the post of Seasonal Trainee Grower to assist our Farm Manager and Assistant Grower team during the busier summer months.

Sims Hill Shared Harvest grows mixed vegetables for around 120 members who each receive a weekly veg share throughout the year. Our vegetables are grown using organic standards across 3 acres of cultivated field space and 5 polytunnels. The growing area is split across the Sims Hill site and some space at the nearby Feed Bristol project which is run by Avon Wildlife Trust.

This post will suit someone looking to develop their skills as a market gardener/veg grower in a community setting. The trainee will work alongside the current growing team with a focus on teaching the trainee a broad range of skills associated with growing vegetables on this scale. They will be required to work with and supervise volunteers at times. There may be an occasional need to work alone and also carry out watering tasks some weekends.

Duties and Learning Objectives:

  • Seed propagation from sowing to transplanting
  • Organic weed, pest and disease management
  • Addressing plant needs for irrigation and nutrients
  • Harvesting produce using agreed methods and ensuring quality control
  • Preparing produce for the shares
  • Weighing, packaging and organising for distribution
  • Working together with and leading tasks for members and volunteers
  • Ensuring safety on site and best practices are maintained

Person Specification:

Essential:

  • Interest in sustainable food production and the desire to put that interest into practice
  • Some experience of vegetable growing
  • Ability to communicate well and explain tasks to others
  • Willingness to work outdoors in all weathers
  • Ability to work within a team
  • Ability to work on own initiative, prioritise tasks and work to deadlines

Desirable:

  • Experience of working with volunteers

Please apply in writing including a cover letter and CV to simshillgrowers@mail.com

.More about Sims Hill Shared Harvest: http://simshill.co.uk

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March 19, 2019

Crowdfunder launched today

We started the year with the threat of being turned to tarmac as a new Park & Ride, but with fantastic local support we are making 2019 a year when we grow and flourish instead.

We need your help.

We have launched a crowdfunder to raise money to ‘Grow a Grower’ for this summer.

We want to start a traineeship program at Sims Hill for new entrant growers. We are looking to employ a paid trainee for 2 days a week for the coming season.

We are aiming to raise £5,000 to cover the trainees wages and provide them with training and courses.

grow sims hill even more

Why support new growers?
Sims Hill is committed to sharing skills and knowledge with the community.
We recognise the need to upskill new producers and build a new generation of food growers in Bristol.

Why a paid traineeship?
Sims Hill is committed to supporting its farmers to build sustainable livelihoods. We recognise that for new growers it is difficult to find paid training options, particularly in urban agriculture projects.

We want to work towards a model which can support new growers in a fair way.

More land, more food
This year at Sims Hill we would like to increase the amount of land we are using to grow food and produce more food for our members. With a trainee joining the growing team we hope we can produce more vegetables shares.

We feel this is a vital step to make our CSA more robust and create more viable jobs for our growing team. From 2020 we aim to employ a trainee grower each season from our income and continue to build our CSA.

We would really appreciate your support in raising the £5,000 needed to employ a new trainee.

So, please forward this email, tell your friends and share the link below to our crowdfunding page. All donations of any scale are welcome. As anyone who’s ever done the weeding can tell you; every little really does help.

https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/grow-a-grower-at-sims-hill

Many thanks

The Sims Hill team

PS. Make sure you check out the adorable video our friends at Black Bark Films made us on the crowdfunder page!

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March 5, 2019

Spring news from the farm

At our AGM in February we talked through lots of different things that are happening for Sims Hill, and took some collective decisions. Just some of the things we discussed were:

  • An update on the Park and Ride situation
  • Growing the farm
  • A new traineeship at Sims Hill
  • The future of the Community Food Centre
  • Share price structure
  • Plastic use
  • New Board members
  • The 2018 budget

Read on to find out more, or download the full minutes of the meeting.

Park and Ride

We are very pleased with the support we received during the consultation. Bristol City Council said during the consultation that they don’t want it to be built on our land, and two local MPs are supporting us as well as great support from other local groups and individuals. Until the four unitary authorities (local councils) confirm the next stages of the plan we will not know for sure that the proposed P&R has been moved elsewhere. All the responses are being collated by the councils and should be reported in around May. We are in a strong position, but we need to wait and see what happens next.

Growing the farm

We are sending out around 76.5 “full share equivalents” each week at the moment – that means about 120 households receive our veg each week which is great. We are on target for our plans, and would like this number to be slightly higher by the end of 2019.

Our tractor is currently waiting to be repaired, so we are very grateful to David (a local farmer and supporter of Sims Hill) for continuing to lend us his tractor in the meantime.

A new traineeship at Sims Hill

We want to have a 2-day a week role over the summer for someone who wants to increase their commercial growing skills and experience. Expanding our growing team capacity will mean we are able to increase our crop outputs, and so provide for more households and longer into the winter months from our own stocks.

We require around £3k as a minimum to be able to make the traineeship a paid position. We haven’t got enough money this year to pay someone from our income, but the growing team feel confident that we could increase capacity this year enough to fund the post through our income next year. Over the past few months we have applied for a few grants but not been successful. We will launch a crowdfunder in March to generate this money. Anyone interested in helping, please get in touch via email or social media.

The future of the Community Food Centre

The Community Food Centre has run since 2016. It is coordinated every Thursday by our community worker, Sian, at the Feed Bristol part of the site. The Community Food Centre is a chance for people who might be in food poverty, and/or who experience social isolation or health issues, and who would benefit from being in a small group where they can be in nature, learn cooking skills, enjoy being in a positive group of people. We have a positive evaluation of the impact it has had on people’s lives.

We need funding to cover the project running costs for the project worker, rent to Feed Bristol, cost of providing shares, cooking staples for the lunch. Some time for our growers has also been paid, as they also put time into the project.

The funding that supported the Centre from 2016-2018 has finished. We are writing applications for large grants (£20,000-60,000) to continue the project. In the meantime, for Q1 (Jan-March 2019) we have had a private donor and Sims Hill reserves to cover the costs. For Q2 (April- June 2019) we currently have a smaller amount of donations to cover the expenses. As a consequence, at the AGM members agreed that we spend £2007 for Q2 from the Sims Hill reserves, but also encourage private donations to help cover the costs so that we are not using up as much project reserves.

We agreed that it will not be sustainable to continue running the Community Food Centre only with short term donations beyond Q2, but will keep looking for long term funding even if we have to stop the Centre. This may include partnerships with other organisations who can support the bidding process. If anyone is interested in helping with fund raising and grant writing (with experience, or to develop your own skills) please get in touch by email or on social media.

Anyone who feels able to contribute to help cover the costs of the Community Food Centre in Q2 can make a transfer to the Sims Hill bank account. Please mark your transfer with “donation”.

Our account details: Sims Hill Shared Harvest

The Co-operative Bank        Sort Code 08-92-99      Account number 65406791

Share price structure

At the last meeting, members agreed that the Board can raise the price of shares in 2019 if it is necessary to cover costs. If we do increase the share price, could we offer any concessionary share prices to make sure people aren’t priced out? In response this suggestion, Board members and Julian, a member (but see below!), have done a scoping project.

As part of the project we thought about a two-tiered pricing structure. To do this, we would need some people to be subsidising the cheaper shares and be confident in our margins so that we were not losing money through this process. We are not currently in a position to reduce the price of any shares to a lower concessionary rate as we are not making a significant profit on the price.

A different way to fund concessions and build up the project more generally is to have more “supporter” members (who don’t receive vegetables, they just donate to the project). We would like to make a push for more supporter members and Board members plan to focus more on that in the summer once the traineeship crowdfunder is over.

Plastic use

We have had a few requests and questions from members about going entirely plastic-free. We have already stopped buying any new plastic bags for shares – all are now recycled wholesale nets or material bags.

We still use single-use plastic bags for our salad, etc. If we didn’t use plastic bags for green leaves (e.g. using paper bags or leaving them loose in crates), they would go off too quickly and then are wasted, which is also bad for the environment. We can’t reuse the “normal” plastic bags we use at the moment because of health and safety regulations.

The “normal” plastic bags we currently use can be recycled at supermarket recycling points but it is difficult to know where this plastic ends up. There are different plastic options such as degradable or compostable, but they are more expensive and have their own issues. “Degradable” plastic is currently not actually composted by local councils as their facilities cannot manage it. They take a long time to compost in a home composting system as the conditions are not right for them. “Compostable” bags are sometimes made from sources that are themselves unsustainable or compete with food for land use.

We would like to find a good source of compostable plastic bags that come from forestry by-products so they are recycling a waste product, not competing for land. We will try to transition to degradable single-use plastic for the salads when we find a source that is affordable and meets these sustainability criteria. We know other organisations locally and nationally are facing similar quandaries, so hopefully it is something that the sector can solve soon.

New Board members

Steve Hobbs and Kirsty Philbrick stepped down from the Board this year. Thanks to both for their hard work, thoughtfulness and practical help during their time on the Board.

At  the AGM, two new Board members were elected: Julian Harrison and Julia Nichols. Julian is interested in supporting our financial planning, Julia is keen to support our social activities through events and building a stronger community for members. You can see more about them on our “Team” page. Remaining Board members are Damien Phillips, James Miller, Freya Widdicombe, Kristin Sponsler, Simone Osborn and Corra Boushel (Chair).

The 2018 budget

Our 2018 accounts have been prepared by our accountant and our turnover was around £47,000. The balance for the year including the veg business – as well as the cost of the Community Food Centre and grant income – was £1520. This is good news for the project, as we are growing year on year even with difficulties like the drought of the summer.

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December 26, 2018

Stop Sims Hill being turned into a car park!

 

***Read an update on the campaign HERE***

 

Original post:

We got some bad news for Christmas, unfortunately.

We need your urgent help – we have until the 7th January 2019 to make our voices heard. Members, friends and anyone who values what we do and what we stand for, please submit a response!

The West of England (WoE) local authorities are looking at sites for a Park & Ride on the M32. They say they found 17 possible sites, but they have already ruled out 16 of them. The only site left on their list is Sims Hill (see p.40-42 in the WoE Joint Spatial Plan Emerging Findings Transport Report document). Our “Big Field” that you can see from the M32 is named as unlucky “option 13”. They want to kick us out and pave us over!

The public consultation is open until 7th January 2019. We are asking friends, members and networks to please send in a response. At the end of this page is a longer and extremely helpful response drafted by the Bristol Food Network (thank you BFN!) with more detailed information.

 

How to respond

This is the most straightforward way we have found (!) to manage the West of England website.

  1. Register as a respondent with WoE consultation – sorry, but they won’t let you respond otherwise.
  2. WECA will send you an email with a link to the site to set your password (check your junk mail folder if you don’t get an email).
  3. Go back to this page and click “add comment” then “continue” to log in and add your comment.
  4. Tell them your thoughts on the suggestion of building a car park on the Sims Hill field, and try to name the document where the Sims Hill proposal is mentioned: WED 008 Emerging Findings Transport Report (Nov 2018) pp.40-42

Also tell your local Councillor

Please also copy your text and email your local councillor(s) (and the Bristol Mayor if you are a Bristol resident, by copying in mayor@bristol.gov.uk ) telling them that you are trying to respond to this consultation – they will be able to influence the decisions of the West of England, so it’s vital they hear from their constituents.

 

You could mention…

Download a Word doc with a draft text here: Sims Hill letter draft Dec 2018

  • Bristol City Council are supposed to be prioritising local food production. The Council have said in their own documents that they want to prioritise “space for local food production within the city.” (p.73, Bristol Development Framework Core Strategy). In WoE proposals on housing, they apply the objective of minimising the loss of productive land, especially best and most versatile agricultural land. We think this objective definitely applies to Sims Hill.
  • Sims Hill is more than just a farm. We run a veg box scheme that feeds over 80 local households in Bristol and South Gloucestershire. We run a highly valued weekly community group at the Sims Hill Community Food Centre for people experiencing food poverty and social isolation. We employ local people in valued jobs. We work with our nearest primary school and other community groups to give young people access to outdoor space and understand where their food comes from. We provide volunteering experience in long-term and short-term roles, giving a wide range of people access food, land and wellbeing.
  • Sims Hill is in the top 3% of agricultural land in the whole of the UK. Sims Hill Shared Harvest and the rest of the Blue Finger Alliance are committed to maintaining agricultural land that can feed local people, support local wildlife and improve our environment. The land proposed by WoE is classified as “Grade 1 Agricultural land,” which means it is classified within the top 3% of all agricultural land in the whole of the UK as the “best and most versatile”. This land has feeding the people of Bristol and South Gloucestershire for hundreds of years. In the document, WECA acknowledge “public preference for alternative land uses” for the Stapleton Allotments as a reason that site is unsuitable. The same applies to Sims Hill.
  • There are other sites available. Even though we don’t want to become a car park, we also support attempts to reduce the traffic and congestion in Bristol – we are affected by the traffic, noise and pollution as much as anyone! But we believe there are more suitable sites outside the Blue Finger Alliance area, nearer the M4, that have not been shortlisted or considered in this plan and that should have been.

If you have any questions, please get in touch with our interim Chair, Corra Boushel corra.boushel[@]hotmail.co.uk

Bristol Food Network’s draft response

Our great supporters at the Bristol Food Network have been drafting a response as well. Here’s their thoughts, which give more detail on the points mentioned above.

I/We object to the proposed siting of a Park & Ride at Sims Hill, or any of the existing “best and most versatile land” within the Blue Finger Alliance identified area that is currently used for smallholdings, allotments or other agricultural purposes. We believe the Blue Finger land should be retained for agricultural uses and should not be used for transport or housing.

  1. The proposed Park & Ride site for the M32 area has been moved.

In the Emerging Spatial Strategy Transport Topic Paper from November 2016 and in most subsequent maps, the “indicative” P&R for the M32 has always been shown either at the junction of the M32 and M4 or to the north of the M4. By the time of the publication of the Joint Spatial Plan in November 2017, the P&R has become a “New P&R site south of M32 J1 to intercept trips into Bristol”.

Of the 17 sites considered in the Emerging Findings Transport Report, it appears that only two sites north of the M4 had been considered. It is generally assumed that this is because South Gloucestershire Council will not release/identify land within their authority area for a P&R, leaving potential sites predominantly in Bristol. There is much more land available to the north of the M4 than there is to the south. We would like to see what sites have been identified and ruled-out in that area. WECA and the local authorities have a duty to cooperate on identifying sites.

  1. Failure to consistently apply sustainability objectives.

WoE have applied the following sustainability objectives to their assessment of “strategic development locations for housing”:

4d. Promote the conservation and wise use of land, maximising the re-use of previously developed land.
4e. Minimise the loss of productive land, especially best and most versatile agricultural land.

These objectives don’t appear to have been applied to transport proposals within the Joint Spatial Plan, which in terms of environmental concerns have only been assessed for visual impact and flood risk.

  1. Inconsistency in assessing P&R sites.

One of the identified sites – Stapleton Smallholdings – has been “Discounted due to size constraints and public preference for alternative land uses (allotments).”  Stapleton allotments were earmarked for a P&R site (in Bristol’s soon-to-be-replaced Site Allocations document) which was intended to link-in with new the Metrobus infrastructure near Stoke Lane. This P&R proposal received massive public opposition, culminating in the occupation of the contested land by protesters. At the time, and in order to end the protest, promises were made that the P&R at Stapleton allotments would be removed from the Site Allocations document and that the remaining high quality agricultural land in that part of the city (known as the Blue Finger) would be protected against future developments. The “public preference for alternative land uses” is not restricted to the Stapleton Smallholdings but applies to all BCC-owned smallholdings and allotment land within the Blue Finger – on both sides of the M32. Similarly, Eastville Park has been discounted as “not expected to be supported by the public”. This argument applies equally at Sims Hill.

  1. Failure to acknowledge Bristol’s emerging Local Plan.

The JSP Transport papers have not acknowledged Bristol’s emerging Local Plan, and the special protection which is intended for the Blue Finger land. This seeks to protect all BCC-owned land within Stapleton Allotments and Holdings for agricultural uses and to recognise its special importance for food growing and community use. Again, we note the duty to cooperate amongst the WoE authorities, and the lack of consideration of how this policy should extend over authority boundaries.

https://www.bristol.gov.uk/planning-and-building-regulations/local-plan

https://www.bristol.gov.uk/documents/20182/34536/Bristol+Local+Plan+Review/09f23dba-9a9f-e387-8fc3-9637bca23125

p.56 (which is p.62 of the PDF) – 6.2.5 special designation for Stapleton Allotments and Holdings

Proposal HW 3: Specially Protected Local Green Space

Land identified as Specially Protected Local Green Space will be permanently retained as open space. Development which would result in harm to the land’s open character or role will not be permitted.

Ancillary development of a proportional scale may be acceptable where it directly supports the open space function of the land.

6.2.4 Specially protected Local Green Space is a designation set out in national planning policy. Its role is to protect open spaces that are demonstrably special to the local community and which need to be kept open permanently. Local Green Spaces are identified based upon five criteria of local significance relating to: Recreational value; Historic significance; Richness of wildlife; Beauty and tranquillity. Local Green Spaces are also required to be demonstrably special to the community they serve and offer a unique and irreplaceable provision to that community.

6.2.5 In Bristol, the types of open space that fall into the category of specially protected Local Green Space are considered to include: Traditional, multi-functional parks and recreational estates; Land designated as Town and Village Greens and Common Land; Designated Local Nature Reserves; Stapleton Allotments and Holdings (see Proposal RES 5).

Proposal RES 5 p.62 (p.68 of the PDF):

Proposal RES 5: Stapleton Allotments and Holdings

The Stapleton allotments and holdings will be recognised in the local plan and designated as specially protected Local Green Space in recognition of its special importance for food growing and community use. Developments which are inconsistent with this role will not be permitted.

The current designation of the land safeguarding it for transport infrastructure will be removed.

  1. Inadequate desk-top assessment.

The Emerging Findings Transport Report has included a “Desk-based assessment of environmental, social and economic impacts, and value for money of the options”. This survey has not been thorough in identifying sitting tenants and potential problems around existing tenancies. There is no mention in the document that the Sims Hill site is currently occupied by Sims Hill Shared Harvest CSA, which has a lease on the land till 2021. Nor is there any mention that the surrounding fields are farmed under a 3-generation hereditary tenancy arrangement.

 

 

 

May 1, 2018

Spring 2018 update

Work around the farm and in the busy hours of our many helpers, Board members and staff has been keeping everything shipshape and Bristol fashion for Sims Hill.

On the land

The Spring planting has been going well and the new polytunnel looking an absolute delight with its leafy greens and delicious compost. We are on schedule with all of our planting so far, aiming to get all the onions out in the first week of May and the beetroot soon after. The only crop that the strange weather this year managed to spoil was the celeriac. Unexpectedly, it wasn’t the snow or the late cold snap that caused a problem, but those sudden hot days at the start of April that crisped the seedlings and overheated the crop. A shame! But nature takes as it gives, and other than that we are in good form for the summer and autumn to come.

In the shares at the moment we are managing to provide our own greens and salad leaves, but are buying in other vegetables until the “hungry gap” of April – June is over and we have our own crops ready with summer growth. We used an excellent farm near Swindon for much of our bought in veg over the winter, but they too have run out of stocks so we have had to go further afield until our own provision increases. We do our best to balance our aims of sourcing as locally as possible, from other farms who share our ethos and within a price range that means we can continue to provide members with seven vegetables each week. This gets harder as the hungry gap reduces local stocks and raises prices, but summer is around the corner so the growers are working hard on the land to make sure we can provide as much as possible ourselves as soon as the weather allows.

Partnerships

We are extremely proud to announce that we have reached our highest ever number of members, which is brilliant. We are providing veg for over 90 households around the city at the moment. There is always some flux and flow in member numbers as people move away or change their habits, but we hope to keep member numbers up and even grow a little bit more. Our strongest “social network” is our membership, so tell a friend about us (thumbs up sign optional) and help us strengthen our roots across the city.

Feedback from members’ meetings and ongoing discussions have raised the idea of keeping bees on the land several times over the last couple of years. Over the last few months the idea was explored in more depth, and the Board have confirmed that we will not be putting this into action. Discussions with Avon Wildlife Trust (who manage Feed Bristol) have taught us that they would rather the site encouraged solitary bees, as when honey bees are brought in they out-compete the solitary bees. You can find out more about the difference and why solitary bees are important here. On the big field, which is not shared with Feed Bristol, our lease from Bristol City Council would make sub-contracting to a beekeeper complicated, so this is also not a sensible idea. All in all, it has been useful to investigate the topic in more depth – did you know there are 267 species of bee in the UK? – so for the time being we will stay as we are, welcoming and admiring the bees that choose to buzz with us of their own accord.

Upcoming events

Our community worker Laurie has moved away from Bristol, so her role has been taken on by Sian, who was already closely involved in the Community Food Centre which has made for a smooth hand-over. With Sian’s support we will be running a “lunchtime conversation” in June as part of Bristol Food Connections. Watch out for news and details on our Facebook page and here on the website. We are also part of the Get Growing Trail this summer which opens up community gardens and growing spaces around the city for visitors. Along with our usual volunteer work days on the 3rd Sunday of every month, it’s a busy, sociable time ahead.

Happy May day to all, let us unite as workers, eaters, producers and vegetable lovers.

 

April 20, 2018

2018 AGM minutes available online

Our AGM had to be rescheduled this year due to snow and ice in early March, but a group of growers and members met a few weeks later on 26th March. You can find the minutes of the meeting – and all past meetings – on the members’ meeting minutes page.

March 9, 2018

Vacancy: Community worker

We are looking for a new Community worker to run our Community Food Centre. The Centre has been running since November 2016, and as our staff member moves away we are looking for a replacement to take this important role in the Sims Hill team.

veg

Principal tasks:

You will be responsible for working with referral agencies to invite vulnerable people to join a ‘community of health and well-being’ that gathers at the farm on Thursdays and offers work experience, a meal together and the opportunity to order free or subsidised food. You will manage this gathering, oversee the cooking of a meal and the distribution and ordering of food through Real Economy Co-operative.

The post is for 8 hours per week on Thursdays at the Feed Bristol site.

This role will suit someone who:

• relates well to people who are in difficult circumstances

• has an interest in food and food growing as a means to social cohesion

• recognises the importance of community life to our health and well-being

• has an ability to manage groups of volunteers in gardening and cooking contexts

• is proactive and able to develop the project and monitor progress

You will be responsible, on a day to day basis, to the Farm Manager and may work actively with our partners Real Economy.

Pay and conditions

· either at the rate of £12 per hour for an 8 hour day for 50 weeks per year (self-employed)

· or on an employed basis for one eight hour day per week at a rate of £10.58 per hour with four weeks holiday and a 6% employers pension contribution.

The agreed start date for this post is April 1st 2018.

The post is subject to one month’s written notice and will be formally reviewed and renewed on a six monthly basis.

How to apply:

Applications should be submitted on 2 sides of A4 plus a CV to simshillsharedharvest@gmail.com by 23rd March 2018.

November 1, 2017

Lunchtime conversation: Property is theft? Property is freedom?

Property is theft_

What have the English Revolution, the Irish potato famine and the gentrification of Easton all have in common?
Find out at a fascinating discussion on the transformative role of land ownership patters through British history.
The event will include a talk from Humprey Lloyd, a grower and member of the Landworkers’ Alliance, as well as a Q and A and general discussion from all present.
Lunch will be ready at 12:30 for everyone to share, cooked by the volunteers at Sims Hill Community Food Centre – we would appreciate a small donation. The discussion will then take place from 1-2pm. Please sign up on eventbrite so we know how many to cook for 🙂

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/property-is-theft-property-is-freedom-tickets-39475596572


Everyone welcome!