Protest to save food-growing land in Bristol

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Posted Mar 13 2015 by Elisabeth Winkler of
Campaigners evade bailiffs to protect tees and soil Water tower where two campaigners (not those pictured) are currently staying despite not being allowed food supplies. 13 March 2015, image by Andrew Butler

Protestors are occupying trees in Bristol, UK, on food-growing land threatened by a controversial road-building scheme.

Evictions started yesterday, after Bristol City council won a High Court possession order.

But, about 20 treetop protestors have so far managed to evade eviction by staying out-of-reach of security workers.

The Rising Up camp began 42 days ago to protect food-growing land, including the nearby Stapleton allotments, from being concreted over.

Tree under threat from Metrobus road

Nails hammered into trees to prevent them from being chainsawed down

The fight to protect the land has popular support, with many visitors to the camp, and a cross-party initiative, including from Labour and Conservative MPs, urging Bristol’s first Independent mayor, George Ferguson, to rethink the MetroBus road system that will see over 20 valuable green sites destroyed.

One local resident posted on Rising Up’s Facebook page:

“Great work guys – as residents of Stapleton, we are right behind your attempts to stop this farcical scheme and full of admiration for your bravery and conviction – keep up the fight.”

The campaigners welcome better public transport but fear the scheme, which includes building three new roads and a bridge, will not deliver it.

Soils under threat from Metrobus road

The Glade, Feed Bristol. The woodland will be gone once the road is built.

The Alliance to Rethink Metrobus estimates the scheme will benefit under 300 passengers at peak morning times only – at a huge financial and environmental cost.

The building of the road scheme (under discussion for over two years) coincides with Bristol being crowned the UK’s first European Green Capital in 2015.

“We are meant to be Green Capital – seeing photos of what’s going on at the allotments is heartbreaking,” says one Bristolian on Twitter.

At the start of the twentieth century, Bristol was ringed with market gardens producing fresh and local produce for its citizens.

In recent years the city has revived this practice with schemes such as Feed Bristol (see above image) now under threat from the transport scheme.

The Blue Finger Alliance which says its threatened prime agricultural soils are “so rare that less than 3% of all UK soil falls into that category”.

Save soils Bristol treetop protestors

Eviction day antics.

Climbing the digger

More antics – images above and below by Andrew Butler.


Instead of bulldozing allotments, this could be an opportunity to show how bad decisions can be unmade with grace.

In the International 2015 Year of Soils – and as the spotlight falls on Bristol as Europe’s Green Capital – perhaps this is time to demonstrate that the city’s real capital is its healthy, fertile, food-growing soil.