The story is this: there is an unassuming strip of agricultural land running parallel to the M32 that was used for food-growing from the beginning of the twentieth century. Rather like tenant farmers in medieval times, small-scale producers tilled the soil alongside each other, producing food for the community.
So, nine years ago, when our sustainable food-growing site Grow Wilder (formerly Feed Bristol) set up in Stapleton within that strip of farming land, it was less a brave new world, and more a resurrection of the past.
Now seven producers operate independent farming businesses on our 12 acres, and together they have provided jobs and a reliable source of local food in the wake of the pandemic.
There’s no doubt; jobs are important. Food is important. But there’s more to this place, and the clue lies in the Avon Wildlife Trust sign at the entrance. To many, the stereotypical image of an arable farm may be one of sterile fields, shorn of wildflowers, drenched in chemicals and alien to fieldmice.
By contrast, Grow Wilder proves that if you farm organically and sustainably, wildlife will thrive alongside the vegetables. The place is alive with busy pollinators, birds, wildflowers and blossom. It comprehensively answers the question: is it possible to feed our communities, provide them with jobs, whilst also allowing nature to recover? The response is a resounding yes!