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Feed Bristol – Growing food and seeding wildlife connections in the heart of Bristol

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Posted: Thursday 30th March 2017 by WildBlog

Feed Bristol, Avon Wildlife Trust’s community food-growing project in Stapleton, celebrates its fifth birthday this month and it’s a good point to look at how much it’s achieved so far. When we took over the site in 2012 it was a rather forgotten-about patch of overgrown land running alongside the busy M32. Managed as a smallholding business for 60 years, the six-acre site had fallen into disuse and presented Avon Wildlife Trust with the perfect ‘blank canvas’ to transform the land – and along the way transform Bristol people’s relationship with nature, wildlife and food growing.

From the start we had clear aims: to demonstrate that food-growing in a city context can support local enterprise, while being good for wildlife and people. 

We now host five different businesses at Feed Bristol, and support a range of people from diverse sections of the community who use the site to learn new skills, improve their well-being and build a connection with the natural environment. Our vision is taking shape. 

Young people, some of whom have faced challenges in the school system, meet here to learn valuable life skills whilst doing practical work to tend the land. Other groups of younger children – including some with additional needs help maintain the site. They dig their soil, sow seeds, watch the seasonal changes, harvest their salad and veg and take pride in what they’ve created (and eaten!) together.

Our wildflower nursery, supported by our passionate volunteers – grows 200 native wildflower varieties, all from seed collected from Avon Wildlife Trust nature reserves across our region. The nursery is open to the public and trades six days per week. – It’s an easy way for anyone including newbie gardeners to do something positive for nature, or for traditional gardeners to have a unique collection of plants that are challenging to germinate from seed.

We’re now offering new specialist courses including, field ecology and fungi cultivation, giving anyone interested in nature, gardening and sustainable food, a chance to deepen their skills and experience. Many more courses appear on our Feed Bristol Facebook page as our site is available for hire for other courses, meetings or birthday parties.

All these interests and people were represented at the Feed Bristol birthday party this week. Around the site, children as well as adults were enjoying the chance to connect with nature in the heart of their city. Young faces lit up with enthusiasm as they spotted frog spawn in the wildlife pond, listened to bird song and looked closely at nature beneath their feet. My Wild Child – our project supported by People’s Postcode Lottery helping children to enjoy wild play and nature-based fun and activity – continues to reach more Bristol children and families this year.

So as we say Happy Birthday to Feed Bristol, we know this flagship project, now nestling against the building work bringing MetroBus into the city, is proof that wildlife-friendly food-growing in the heart of urban space is flourishing and bringing benefits to nature and to Bristol’s people.

Feed Bristol Project Manager, Matt Cracknell said;

“It has been an incredible journey establishing this inspiring project. People tell me on a regular basis how it has changed their life and how valuable it is to have this opportunity to access such a thriving project within the city. I am really proud that we are getting national and international recognition for championing and sharing this innovative model that incorporates high levels of social impact, addresses sustainable local food systems and demonstrates how nature can have far reaching impacts on people’s lives and businesses. We now have a strong vision for the future of the project and a confident business plan to stand us in good stead for the next spectacular five years.”

For more information on Feed Bristol’s courses go to

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