Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Walking away.......

It's been a while. Not sure why other than the usual, difficult period when the light begins to fade and I really find doing anything that I don't absolutely have to really difficult.
Last year was hard. Leading on the one hand on a high profile Bristol European Green Capital project with Incredible Edible Bristol that was set to increase the visibility of food growing in the city whilst watching the environmental devastation of the allotment land I had taken on and loved was very tricky to reconcile in my own mind, and was something I struggled with on a daily basis. Seeing the diggers and bulldozers on that precious Grade 1 BMV (Best and Most Versatile) soil broke my heart as did the scenes of destruction when the land began to be torn apart. Watching the bulldozers taking out the wildflower meadow at Feed Bristol was heartwrenching and seeing the hedges behind the plot taken out in peak nesting time knowing that they were home to not just birds, but invertebrates and mammals whose populations will take decades to recover if they ever do, was like watching a horror movie.
And then, just as we thought it was all over, the work on the hillside opposite began. Trees obliterated, grassland removed, huge swathes of beautiful soil prepared for concreting. I saw this on a cold, grey day in December and sat in the greenhouse and sobbed. Sobbed great big tears of sorrow and loathing for a world in which, on one hand we are celebrating the outcomes of the COP in Paris and yet allowing this raping of our lands to continue in the name of progress and profit.
Ecocide. Look it up. It's a thing and it's happening worldwide.
Whilst here in Bristol we see huge tracts of land including the BMV soils of the Blue Finger, common land, ancient woodlands and more disposed of for the sake of a bus route that is already being called a white elephant by many, in Sheffield they are removing street trees for health and safety reasons. Perfectly fine specimens being razed to the ground rather than being looked after for their pollution controlling properties, not to mention the amount of wildlife they will support. Even if they are replaced it will take decades for new specimens to recover the biodiversity lost by the culling of these trees.
So on a personal level I have had to make difficult decisions. Moving helped those decisions but in all honesty even if I had moved far away in normal circumstances I would never even have considered giving up that piece of rich and fertile land. But the heartbreak and the broken community of allotment holders that was creating became too much. The black dog was literally sitting on my chest taking up all my time and being at the land became a hideous dark time when I knew I ought to be there but could't get away fast enough. There was constant bad feeling between allotment holders who couldn't see past the occupation of the land, tools and plants were disappearing and then, as a final blow a whole raft of plants disappeared from my plot. And not just plants. My fuchsia that was given to me by Christopher Lloyd
, hellebores from my dear mums garden and a monkey puzzle that I bought from a dear friend nearly 10 years ago.
All gone. Disappeared. Taken by someone who I assume was so greedy that they couldn't see what they were doing was wrong.
And so the final decision was made by that final blow. The allotment that I loved, lost sleep over, cried huge, sobbing tears over, has been handed back to the allotment team who have worked so hard to be the mediators in this dreadful battle.
Where I expected to be heartbroken, I am only relieved. A weight has been lifted and I can now begin to fight for the Blue Finger in a far more intelligent and thought led way, rather than emotionally and constantly on the verge of either tears or anger. My determination to continue to help and support that fight is no weaker, but my ability to do so is strengthened by making some distance.
And as one door closes another opens as those great folks at the allotment office are helping me find a new and closer site with a plot that I can call my own, which won't happen over night, but will happen in the nearish future.
In the meantime I am looking forward to starting growing in the garden of our new home, and carrying on creating growing spaces across this city on those pieces of land that are lost and unloved, inspiring people to begin growing their own food and connect with the earth. The journey continues........


  1. Oh Sara, this is such a sad and shocking post for so many reasons and on so many levels. While the land may never heal from this, you will. I hope that spending time quietly in the security of your own garden will help you to heal and renew your strength. I am encouraged by your final paragraph: the journey does indeed continue.

  2. Sara, such a touching piece I feel for you but as you say the journey continues You will get your plot you so rightly deserve,I look around our site and see such waste,plots untended ect these little pieces of land are so precious and I share your feelings Hopefully you won't have to wait to long , Best Wishes ,Ant

  3. Heartbreaking Sara, but thank you for sharing. Looking forward is a good strategy, wishing you every success this year.

  4. Hi love i always follow what your doing, as your one of my hero's and your pain is deep down everyones pain. I can see and feel ecocide every where. Brave move letting go and putting yourself into a stronger and more functional position. Has a friend always says you cant polish a turd but you can put glitter on it??!! I am not looking forward to the BCC glitter at the end of this dreadfull project. So sorry to hear you lost plants, thats low. If you want any plants from me i have lots of forest garden type ones and herbs you can have for free, just give me a wish list or a couple of particular ones. love and light, power to the peacefull. Scott Rewild

    1. Thank you Scott!! let's talk soon-get in touch when you're next in the

  5. Sarah what a moving post on every level from the personal to the dreadful disregard of our green spaces. I hope your garden can help and become a sanctuary. Xxx