In 2015 Bristol gained silver status as a Sustainable Food City, and decided recently to become one of the first 2 cities to try to achieve gold standard status. The work is focused on local procurement and food waste, but circling around those subjects are of course many others, and upscaling urban agriculture, supporting more community gardening and getting people growing in their own spaces, whether that’s a back garden, an allotment or an kitchen windowsill, they are a vital part of the city’s Going For Gold work. To get involved in this work take a look at the new Going For Gold website where you can log your actions and see how else you can get involved! https://www.goingforgoldbristol.co.uk.
As we are keen to support this amazing work, being coordinated by Bristol Food Network, we were thrilled a couple of weeks ago to get to spend a day with Going For Gold ambassador Miranda Kestovnikoff, TV presenter on many nature programmes and president of the RSPB. Not only is Miranda passionate about nature, but is also a keen food grower in her own garden, and is very interested in the work going on across the city from allotments to small scale producers and city farms, all of whom are work agro-ecologically to support both food growing and our precious natural environment.
We started the day at the Farm Cafe in St Werburghs where owner and chef Leona talked to us about the importance of uber local food to her and her clientele. She buys from Purple Patch, which is less than half a mile from the farm, as well as does interesting swapping with local allotment holders. We then went on to Propagation Place at St Werburghs Farm where plug plants of veg are grown for selling online and onsite, to people who are growing their own, but who struggle growing from seed, or choose not to. This a brilliant example of social enterprise supporting the local economy and supporting more people to grow their own, where ever they can.
After that we visited Purple Patch. Less than half a mile from the farm in St Werburghs, Purple Patch is a CSA that feeds 25 families across the city, and grows fruit, vegetables, salads and herbs on a tiny but super productive site. There is also a space for children and an amazing polytunnel that 10kg+ of salad per week is cropped from. Not only were the crops amazing but the way the land is managed supports a huge variety of wildlife and we stood at the pond watching dragon flies, listening to the gentle buzz of late flying bees and the incredible birdsong that surrounds the farm. It’s only when an intercity train flies across the viaduct that you remember you are in the centre of a large city! Miranda spotted various creatures as we were shown around by owner Mary, and we talked endlessly about how important this type of growing is for the city and all its populations.
After that we wandered along to the Bearpit. By now it as beginning to rain but still there are crops available, and plants flowering to ensure there is city centre forage for pollinators that are still flying. We talked about the space becoming a city centre space for food growing, for nature and for people, with Miranda being really interested in not just what we grow, but how we grow it and that it is a harvest available to everyone in the city. We talked about the change edible landscaping could bring to the city, and how it would support a nature rich city, and then it began to pour so we all went in our different directions, excited by the conversations and people we had met during the day.
Firstly we’d like to thank Miranda for being so interested in everything we do, and also for getting involved as an ambassador for real change. Thanks also to Bristol Food Network for organising the day and inviting us along. We would encourage everyone to get behind this incredible project, that is setting the bar for other cities across the UK, and is really pushing the boundaries on food procurement and food waste. Please take some time to get involved if you can!
See you in a garden soon…..