We're grassroots Heathrow residents proving that communities less dependent on oil can be more resilient, stronger and happier. We take direct action on climate change and shrinking supplies of cheap energy by transitioning to a post-oil, community-led future for the Heathrow villages.

Grow Heathrow is looking for new members!

Posted: December 4th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

For a two month trial period, Grow Heathrow is now open to applications from new volunteers of all genders.

We are an intentional community and activist base, and we invite volunteers to become immersed in our day to day life. There are a variety of activities and tasks we need help with, including construction projects, landscaping, gardening, cooking, making art, communications/media and fixing bikes. Experience is not necessary, we are simply looking for proactive, energetic and enthusiastic people who are ready to get involved in the project. Food is provided, as is accommodation in our mixed-gender guest cabin (a female-only guest space is planned). We expect volunteers to attend our two weekly work days (Thursday and Saturday) and our Wednesday meetings, as well as helping out with daily tasks such as washing up, cooking and sometimes hosting visitors.

At this point we are able to accept 4 new volunteers per month: after being here for a week as a guest, you can apply to be a volunteer for another 3 weeks, following which you will have the opportunity to apply to apply to be a long term volunteer for 3 months. This is so we can all get to know each other and make sure we’re going to get along in the long run! Since we all live together and share the space, it is important that we are welcoming people whose values align with the aims of the project. Have a look around this website for further information on why Grow Heathrow came to be and what we stand for. If you would like to become a volunteer at Grow Heathrow, please contact us first, via email (info@transitionheathrow.com) or through our Facebook page. We’d love to hear something about yourself and why you’re interested in volunteering with us. It’s chilly and gets dark early at this time of year, so you will need to come equipped with warm winter clothes, a sleeping bag and a torch! We’re looking forward to welcoming you into the Grow family!

Fermentation update

Posted: November 29th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

Since we made the last video about fermentation and humanure, we’ve started applying the same technique to our kitchen waste, given that we can turn out soil in a tenth of the time and with less work compared to a traditional compost heap alone. So here’s a couple of vids documenting what we’ve been up to, why and how.

This one covers how to generate lactobacillus bacteria in the first place. They exist in leaf matter (particularly in winter), and in the air in general, so it’s just a matter of providing them with an environment favourable to their particular niche:

Next up is how to use the lactobacillus to compost kitchen waste:

And finally, humanure and lactobacillus, or shit into soil sooner than you’d suspect:


For the mathematically inclined

Posted: July 4th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

This is shamelessly ripped from a recent Horizon episode that was future themed. They touch on global warming and the ongoing 6th mass extinction; I thought I’d add some fun maths questions for viewers:

  • If 81% of freshwater verterbrates have become extinct since 1970, how long will it take the remaining 19% to die, and for Earth’s rivers and estuaries to become completely lifeless?
  • If between 1970 to 2012, a 58 per cent overall decline in vertebrate populations occured, how long will it take before Earth has no vertebrate life remaining?
  • If the Great Dying (the Earth’s third mass extinction) killed 95% of life in 2,000,000 years, and the current mass extinction has killed 38% of life during the past 47 years, how much faster is this mass extinction proceeding than the previous worst extinction in the Earth’s 4.5 billion year history?

Answers below the video.

  • Deadline for the rivers; 2028.
  • Deadline for the vertebrates; 2047.
  • Great Dying; 0.0000475% annual extinction rate. Today, 0.8085% annual extinction rate. Hence animals are becoming extinct at a rate approximately 20,000 times faster than the worst previous mass extinction.

All figures are taken from the Living Planet Report, published by the World Wildlife Fund.

I post this not to depress people, but to attempt to draw attention to the extremity of the situation that we are in. Given that the status quo, life as we know it in the “developed” world, has led to the death of around two thirds of everything alive since I was born, it doesn’t make sense to me to continue to support and work within that status quo. To all intents and purposes, it appears to worship death; the best description I’ve heard of our economic system is “the fastest way we’ve yet discovered to turn our planet into a trash heap”. So I guess my personal take on learning about the lateness of the day has been to take to heart the adage, “Action is the antidote to despair” and to try to explore alternatives to the centralised, authoritarian, male-dominated structures. A writer who puts it much better than I:

“What is known is that Leviathan, the great artifice, single and world-embracing for the first time in His-story, is decomposing. From the day when battery-run voices began broadcasting old speeches to battery-run listeners, the beast has been talking to itself. Having swallowed everyone and everything outside itself, the beast becomes its own sole frame of reference. It entertains itself, exploits itself and wars on itself. It has reached the end of its Progress, for there is nothing left for it to progress against except itself. Being above all else a war engine, the beast is most likely to perish once and for all in a cataclysmic suicidal war, in which case Ahriman would permanently extinguish the light of Ahura Mazda. People waste their lives when they plead with Ahriman to desist from extinguishing the light, for such a deed would be Ahriman’s final triumph over Ahura Mazda, and the pleaders might learn too late that they are the ones who put the idea into the monster’s head. Leviathan is turning into Narcissus, admiring its own synthetic image in its own synthetic pond, enraptured by its spectacle of itself. It is a good time for people to let go of its sanity, its masks and armors, and go mad, for they are already being ejected from its pretty polis.”

So let go of your sanity, my friends, because being well-adjusted to this society is an act of profound despair, and come by Grow Heathrow for a cup of tea (we can chat about humanure and oyster mushrooms, as that’s the latest iteration of our “shit into soil in 3 months” ongoing experiments). Particularly if Lewdown do actually try to evict us soon!


Judgement at the Royal Courts of Justice

Posted: June 29th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

 

Grow Heathrow were given 14 days to leave their home today at the Royal Courts of Justice.

Judge Dight granted the possession order to landowners Lewdown Holdings, whilst citing the “hardship and difficulty caused” and the “logistical difficulties which will be caused by the fact that the effect of such an order would be to require the eviction of an entire settled community”.

The judge acknowledged the two named defendants spoke “strongly and eloquently about the constructive nature of the Grow Heathrow community and its achievements but also about the negative impact on the community and its aims if a possession order were to be made”, before awarding costs against both Ru Raynor and Eddy Thacker of at least £23,781 between them.

The Judge acknowledged “the very considerable time, effort and, no doubt, expense which the Defendants have invested in making the Property into a thriving community, all of which has been carried out with the best of intentions, in furtherance of the committed principles of Grow Heathrow” whilst explaining that neither this nor ‘the genuine support of the local community” met the “exceptional” circumstances required by the defendants.   Grow Heathrow’s defence relied on the right to a home, as interpreted under Article 8 of the Human Rights Act 1998, to resist a possession order. Grow Heathrow argued that any possession order would infringe the freedom of expression (under Article 10) and freedom of assembly, protest and association (under Article 11).   The Judge found that the defendants could not rely on these rights to override Article 1, that “Every natural or legal person is entitled to the peaceful enjoyment of his possessions”. The judge stated that a “private landowner [is] entitled to put its land to any form of lawful use, including doing nothing with it.” He further explained that “The Claimant has no need to justify the holding and alleged failure to use the land.”

Fermentation and humanure

Posted: June 28th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

We’ve learnt a lot over the past 6 months about using anaerobic composting, aka fermentation, aka bokashi, to process our waste. It’s a technique that’s equally applicable to composting kitchen waste, but at the moment we’ve been using it to deal with our shit, quite literally; we’ve come up with what seems a fairly novel approach to composting toilets, and it works remarkably well. We’re turning human shit into usable compost in 3 months; so here’s a youtube we made about this.

 


The polytunnel sporadic blog

Posted: May 20th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

Around a year ago, we built a 110 square meter polytunnel, mostly from recycled materials. Total cost was around £300, which covered the plastic and some nuts and bolts. The wood for the 4 raised beds came mostly from the fire pile of a local sawmill (so we ended up with some beautiful pieces of oak to make the beds with), and we used a modified version of the Hügelkultur idea, which is to say that the bottom half of the approx. half meter deep beds are filled with big chunks of wood. This wood gradually breaks down over time, releasing fertility and heat to the soil above, but in the first couple of years, it robs nitrogen from the soil as the decomposition process begins. The modification to this process that we made was to add wood chip to the big pieces of wood, with the theory being that this would help initiate decomposition faster (given that smaller items rot faster). To alleviate the loss of nitrogen from the soil (as we had no good soil to begin with), we added a layer of biochar, because it’s a rich source of nitrogen. Atop that is around 30cm of any old soil we could find, typically quite heavy clay soil. The exception to that was the 4th bed, which had no soil at all, just rotted woodchip on top. That’s led to a, uh, healthy population of woodlice (I suspect there’s tens of thousands of crustaceans in that bed), but no apparent difference in the fertility of the soil. We used a lot of nettle tea (a rich source of nitrogen) on all the beds last year, so despite the poor quality soil that we started with (or even complete lack of soil, on that 4th bed), we had immediately healthy, fertile soil, with abundant growth.

That’s a potted history of our polytunnel; it took around 3 months to build, and it’s now in its second spring. We’ve got lots of greens growing, from spinach to mizuna to rocket to plain old lettuces, plenty of beans and peas, tomatoes, squash and a half dozen bathtubs full of carrots, coriander, beetroot and basil. We tried a few of the edible weeds last year, but this year the only thing that we’ve let grow (because other plants such as chickweed didn’t provide much yield) is wood sorrel, because it’s delicious! It’s got a lemony, rockety sorta flavour, and is such an unassuming little plant, I’ve let it spread where-ever it’s established itself. Which has had the fun consequence of allowing us to watch wood sorrel flower and go to seed, as we discovered that it doesn’t rely on insects or even the wind to spread its seeds; the seeds explode outwards from the seed pods as they dry out and become brittle, at which point a gentle brush sends seeds flying everywhere. We spotted them getting up to 30cm away, not bad for a tiny 1mm seed! You can just about spot them flying around in this video:

Amazing exploding wood sorrel seeds! We bagged a few seeds and I’ll help that little patch of sorrel along, as it’s in the shadiest corner of the polytunnel, suitable for a woodland plant.

Next post will be a quick tour of the polytunnel, suitable maybe for its first birthday! I’ll try to get a few photos together from the building process too, as it’s fun to see that previously unused space turn into the lush, green haven that it is now.


Back from Amsterdam

Posted: May 9th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

So Rich and I just spent a few days at the Food Autonomy Festival, organised by ASEED, a Dutch charity focused on GMOs and resistance to agribusiness in recent years. A most excellent time was had by all, and some good connections made. Apparently at least one person has been inspired by Grow to enthusiasm about resisting Schiphol airport expansion, and hopefully a new Bokashi bucket or two more exists in Amsterdam after the workshop we gave on anaerobic composting (better described actually as fermentation, we’ll be hosting the same workshop here within the next few weeks, keep an eye on the Facebook page), so a few days well spent. Lots of thanks to Finn, Jonny and ASEED for inviting and hosting us, our temporary accommodation definitely felt like home when I saw this in the kitchen:

 

 

When all else fails, try reverse psychology on the washing up!

On a more serious note, we met a few of the people from this neat Warsaw squatted allotment (who count Yorkley Court as among their inspirations for the project), visited a really cool aquaponics garden cafe in the main park in Amsterdam and got to know the Amsterdam squatting scene a little. Sitting through a visit by the owners of the squat we were in, showing the place off to potential tenants, while we squatters sat drinking tea, was one of the more surreal moments, but hey, it’s all in a good day’s work.

We had some interesting talks around ideas of hierarchy and leadership, and it struck me that these interactions between various eco/political/activist projects around Europe are fertile ground for new ideas; a little like edges between habitats in permaculture are generally rich, biodiverse habitats due to the input from two different ecosystems, perhaps this notion holds true for the meeting of 2 different activist cultures, too. I come away from the Food Autonomy Festival with an increased realisation of just how central to our lives our food production systems are, and with agribusiness gradually merging into ever more massive corporations (it was news to me that Monsatano was recently bought out by another agribusiness, in the biggest corporate merger in history), new visions of how to produce our food locally, sustainably and without corporate control can only be a good thing.


Seeking new female, non-binary, trans and other gender-queer volunteers!

Posted: April 14th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

 

For the past few months, Grow Heathrow has been having a bit of a rest from taking on new volunteers to stay. This was for us to have a rest and come together as a group of people living and working together.

Now spring is here, we’d like to open our gates again to volunteers to stay – following our usual process, which is:

  • Send us an email saying who you are and why you want to stay

  • Once we’ve said it’s OK – come and stay for a week and see how it goes

  • After a week – check in with us at our Wednesday meetings and if it’s good for us all, stay for another 3 weeks

  • After a total of a month, if it’s going really well you can ask to be a Long Term Volunteer, here we ask you to be more committed to the project and after asking at a meeting you need to go away for 10 days to give us and you time to reflect. If all goes well, stay for up to 3 months and start taking on more responsibility.

Although we are open again to volunteers, we are currently only reopening to women, trans people, and other non-binary or gender queer folk.

Q: So does this mean we are not open to men?

A: Yes, currently we won’t be accepting requests of volunteers to stay from cis-gendered men – i.e. people who were born ‘male’ and still identify as such. But you can still come and be a day visitor and get involved in work days, workshops and other events.

We have chosen to do this for a number of reasons, not least because we recognise that our fight against the ecological crisis, climate change and the proposed 3rd runway ath Heathrow, is intimately tied to the fight against patriarchy, hetero-sexism and all other forms of oppression. Whilst we aim to fight these things, we also realise that these oppressions are internalised in all of us, in particular men, who are socialised under patriarchy in various problematic ways. Eco-camps such as ours have a reputation for being somewhat macho – and we think this is due to the culture that is created in these spaces, and not because women and non-binary people can’t handle the cold and chopping wood.

Of course, we also realise that this decision not to accept cis-men for the time being is a blunt instrument and that not all men have internalised patriarchal behaviours to the same extent. However, untill we are closer to some form of gender (queer) parity we feel like this step is useful in creating a radically inclusive space.


With Grow Heathrow still in legal limbo, here’s a run-down of what we’ve been up to lately

Posted: April 13th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Action, Art, Cool Projects, Education, Energy, Events, Growing Group, music | No Comments »

gh shower

A judgement has still not been made following our trial last week, so while you wait, we’ve compiled a list of stuff we’ve done in the last year to keep you entertained! As always, these achievements came about from the combined effort and creativity of those who live at the site and the many hundreds who come and get their hands dirty with us.

 

–          Polytunnel up and running! Two of the disused greenhouses towards the back of site have been put back to the purpose of growing food. It produces an abundance of veg throughout all the seasons

–          New glamorous shower block complete. This has replaced a smaller shower unit, is heated by a wood-burner-radiator contraption and was built over a number of weeks with the help of basically everyone on site

–          Hayes carnival. We took part in the big procession with a plant-filled float and ran a number of stalls

–          Protests against the third runway. The past year has seen sustained protest activity against the proposed third runway and Grow Heathrow has helped support this campaign throughout. For example, the Reclaim the Power bike ride in October used us as a base

–          Grey water system. We’ve now created a natural water filtering system fed by dirty water from the kitchen

–          Alt space renovated. This is our music venue which has hosted open mic nights and other music/poetry events every few weeks

–          New compost toilets. We’re experimenting with a composting method using ‘bokashi’ and creating lots of ‘humanure’ to spread around trees

–          Biochar production. We’ve increased and improved our biochar production, aiming further towards a closed-loop waste system

–          Workshops galore. Talks and skillshares have been happening regularly through the year – from the legacy of the Russian Revolution, to fermentation, beat boxing, wood-working

–          Support for Cherry Lane children’s centre. Thanks to government cuts (BOO), a local children’s centre down the road from us is being closed. We’ve been helping them in their campaign

–          Litter picking. Litter and fly-tipping is a big problem in the local area so we’ve done a number of outings to do something to right this wrong

–          Panel discussions. Members of Grow Heathrow have taken part in discussions on environmental and social issues at: a conference on land use called Land For What?; University of the Arts, London; the V&A museum; Queen Mary’s University Centre for Poetry

–          Engagement with London food growers’ network. We’ve rekindled our participation in the Community Food Growers’ Network and are hosting their next gathering in May!

–          Heart circles. We’ve hosted heart circles to provide a space for anyone to share their thoughts and feelings and support each other

 

Grow Heathrow is always open during the day for people to come and visit and hosts lots of events during the year. Come and have a cup of tea or pick up a herb or fruit bush cutting for your garden/flat!

 


Court Solidarity Demonstration for Grow Heathrow

Posted: March 23rd, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

Grow Heathrow in court 2017

Grow Heathrow has a trial scheduled for 3-5 April with Lewdown Holdings Ltd for possession of the majority of the land we occupy. If Lewdown were to win in court, a date for bailiffs to attempt to take repossession could be set within days or weeks of the trial.

A solidarity demonstration will be held on Monday, 3rd April at 9am outside Central London County Court, Royal Courts of Justice, The Strand, WC2A 2LL, on 3rd April from 9:00am. You are invited to join us with banners and music outside the court. Please share our facebook event.

Our defence will be heard on Day 2, 4th April, with the final judgement in the afternoon session of Day 3, 5th April. Presence is welcome in the public gallery and outside court throughout the trial.

Defendants from the project will be arguing under the right to a home, as interpreted under Article 8 of the Human Rights Act 1998, to resist a possession order. Grow Heathrow is also arguing that any possession order would infringe the freedom of expression (under Article 10) and freedom of assembly, protest and association (under Article 11).

thbeforeandafter1

Grow Heathrow has occupied the disputed land since 2010; removing fly-tipped rubbish and creating a hub of low carbon living and resistance to the 3rd runway in the seven years since. Lewdown Holdings only discovered our occupation back in 2014, giving an indication of their lack of active involvement with the land. They have had multiple planning applications rejected on the grounds of ecological damage – their latest being a plan to scalp the land and dig out a gravel pit.

The landlords have decided to pursue a possession order despite indicating the potential for negotiations with representatives from Grow Heathrow, potentially using the land collaboratively as a horticultural project supplying fresh produce as well as educational services to the local community, acting as a resource centre for sustainable living.

While the airport and government march on with their destructive plans for a third runway – and most of the land in this country is still owned by a tiny elite – we want to carry on: welcoming groups to use this shared resource, running workshops on food growing/ social & environmental issues/ radical politics, fixing bikes and putting on events for everyone to enjoy.

Please come and help us defend our home and this shared resource that hundreds of people have built up over the years.

Share widely and see you soon. treehouse