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.

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 »

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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


Grow Heathrow’s 7th Birthday – Saturday 4th March – more details coming soon!

Posted: February 15th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

GH 7th birthday flyer


Upcoming workshops and events at Grow Heathrow

Posted: November 15th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Events | No Comments »

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The following workshops and events are in the pipeline at Grow Heathrow.
Workshops are generally free, though donations are always appreciated. Tea
and snacks will be provided. If you use Facebook, please confirm that you
will be attending, and share with friends.

Radical Embroidery Date: Sunday 27th November Time: 10:30-15:00 Age range: 8+ with supervision

Ignored and derided for years as “women’s work”, embroidery is making something of a comeback. We’ll teach you how to embrace the needle and start a project, whether it’s a small patch, an embroidered quote, or the start of your radical full-size re-interpretation of the Bayeux Tapestry (which was actually embroidered). Materials will be provided, but you can also bring fabric that you would like to work on. Suitable for anyone old enough to hold a needle. https://www.facebook.com/events/1851165588449360/

Upcycling- learn to make jewellery and accessories Date: Sat 10th Dec Time: 13:00-16:00 Age range: 8+ with supervision

Getting crafty doesn’t have to cost you or the planet! Under the watchful eye of Kirsten K.Cycle you’ll learn how to work with reclaimed materials to make both beautiful and practical pieces. Why not turn a drinks can into a flower brooch, or a tetra-pak carton into a wallet? Materials will be provided, but you can also bring anything you would like to work with. https://www.facebook.com/events/645808802259404/

Sea Shanty Singalong Date: Saturday 17th December Time: 14:00 Age range: all ages, with children supervised

Come and learn some traditional nautical working songs, that’ll keep you entertained even if you’re more of a landlubber than a buccaneer. Suitable for all ages and singing abilities, participants will be given a PDF songbook afterwards so that you can all keep singing even if you forget the words. Don’t worry if you’re no Pavarotti, this session will be an informal singalong with no pressure to perform solo. https://www.facebook.com/events/814901231946510/

Winter Solstice Celebration Date: Wednesday 21st December Time: 18:00 Age range: all ages, with children supervised https://www.facebook.com/events/560364540824512/


The Darkness

Posted: October 22nd, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »
halloween-gh
Join us for a theatrical play at Grow Heathrow for Halloween. The theme for this year’s production will be the darkness that lives inside of us… and in the forest, as 3 hikers are about to find out…
Deep in the forest….
Does she await….
Your Darkness she’ll find,
And your life……
She’ll take…….
Can you see the light yet…?

 

https://www.facebook.com/events/220783155006823/

We’re hibernating (early)

Posted: October 7th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

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It’s been a busy summer here at Grow Heathrow – with lots of people coming and going, learning and sharing all kinds of skills and information about sustainability, getting involved in activism, meeting new people… and so much more!

Whilst all this is great, it can be a bit much if you don’t get a rest. So for this reason, we’re taking a break from accepting new volunteers at Grow who want to stay on site. It will be for at least a month, from Oct 19th, but could be more depending on how we feel.

Does this mean we’re ‘closed’? Absolutely not!

Please still come and visit for the day, come to our events, offer workshops, use our space for your own events etc. We’re still here to be used! And if the Government makes a decision about a new runway at Heathrow – we’re still going to be a vital hub of resistance!

We hope this isn’t a pain for anyone planning to come, but ask that people respect this, so that we can keep doing all the things we do, but even better!

Love from Grow Heathrow x


Anti-Airport Action Lab – #staygrounded @Grow Heathrow

Posted: September 17th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

stay-grounded

 

This Saturday the 24th at Grow Heathrow there will be an anti-airport ‘action lab’ – a day of preparation for the #staygrounded actions happening on the 1st October.

GET CLUED UP | TRAINED UP | TEAMED UP | PLAN FOR ACTION

11:00 – 18:00,  Grow Heathrow, Vineries Close, UB7 0JH

  • Everything you need to know about the Airport Flashmob & Critical Mass – 1st Oct.
  • Find out about the anti-aviation expansion campaign going on in the UK and abroad.
  • Get skilled up with basic direct action training with bikes or on foot
  • Meet others taking action and form teams
  • Use the collective space to make creative props
  • Put it all together and plan your action!

A one stop shop for an awesome airport experience!

As ever, Grow Heathrow will be cooking up some lunch, but by all means bring a dish to share.

We have guest accommodation with bunk beds that you are free to use, although be aware that you’ll probably be sharing it with a few others. A sleeping bag and a head torch are useful items to bring with you. Bring a tent for your own private sleeping space.

Ring us on 07835012486. Email: info@transitionheathrow.com

Grow Heathrow: http://www.transitionheathrow.com/

Reclaim the Power: https://reclaimthepower.org.uk/aviation-flashmob-critical-mass/


BACKGROUND:

Amidst a crazy political maelstrom, expansion plans at London City Airport were given the green light in July. The UK government is now expected to announce plans for a new runway, probably at Heathrow or Gatwick, in October – a decision which hangs in the air like a noose over our heads, and which we know will place the interests of a wealthy minority, and the profits of corrupt corporations, over the lives of ordinary people.

In solidarity with local and international groups, and in defence of climate and social justice all over the world, Reclaim the Power is calling for safe and peaceful action against the aviation industry, with a family-friendly flashmob and critical mass bike bloc at a London airport.

What: 100s of people will create a family-friendly flashmob and Critical Mass bike block Where: A London airport (to be announced) When: Saturday 1st October 2016