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.

Swoop on abandoned market garden

Posted: March 1st, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Growing Group, Residents | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Today , community activists from the group Transition Heathrow [1] moved into an abandoned market garden in Sipson. [2] Around lunchtime, about 20 people “swooped” [3] on the land in Sipson, one of the villages due for demolition if the third runway at Heathrow goes ahead. [4] After securing the site, the group immediately informed their new neighbours and local residents of their intention to reopen the old market garden for the benefit of the local community.

The ‘Grow Heathrow’ project aims to encourage and support locally grown produce in an area that once had some of the most fertile soils in Britain. Transition Heathrow has launched the project to highlight the need for a community controlled food supply in order to remain resilient to the impacts of peak oil and climate change. It intends to use the old market garden not only for growing, but also for activities such as bike workshops, clothes making, solidarity support for local workers and direct action workshops for people trying to stop the third runway.

Transition Heathrow member and local resident Joe Rake, described the events of the day. “Around lunchtime, a group of us walked onto the site. Once we had secured the gate, we set about telling local residents why we were there and inviting them to join in. We also had to start tidying up as it appeared to have been used for scrapping cars. Since the last tenants were evicted, the site has attracted unsavoury characters, so we wanted to restart the market garden for the good of the local community.”

Many of those involved in the ‘swoop’ see today’s action as a positive way of resisting the third runway whilst building an alternative community solution in its place.

Heathrow resident Amy Summer said “We’ve been fighting the threat of the third runway for years, and its blighted our community. This kind of action not only helps stop expansion but also helps regenerate the area, providing local skills, green jobs and organic produce instead.”

She added, “This form of direct action is just as important as sitting on a runway, blockading the bulldozers or striking for more green jobs. There’s no point in growing your own veg if it’s going to be covered in tarmac by BAA. At the same time there’s no point in community resistance if there’s no community left to defend. We have to do both.”


[1] Transition Heathrow is a grassroots action group aiming to draw out the juxtaposition of sustainability and airport expansion, as part of the Transition Towns Network. It was established in October 2009 by Plane Stupid activists and Climate Campers who have been working with local residents. For more info see www.transitionheathrow.com

[2] Berkeley Nursery in Sipson has been derelict since the last tenants were evicted by the council. Local residents say they were using the site to scrap cars. Previously, the site had been used to grow fruit and vegetables as one of the many local market gardens.

[3] The ‘swoop’ is a term recently used by climate activists to refer to the sudden arrival of people on a site, often linked to land occupation or sites of protest.

[4] The third runway at Heathrow will demolish more than 700 homes around Sipson, Harmondsworth and Harlington, and will leave many more homes uninhabitable as they find themselves at the end of a runway.

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One Comment on “Swoop on abandoned market garden”

  1. 1 Lock on – notes towards an article on activism and transition said at 8:41 am on June 1st, 2011:

    […] when we wanted to plant stuff – we did some guerrilla gardening. And when we wanted a site we squatted some abandoned land and brought it back into use. When we wanted to support the BA cabin crew strikes we took part in a […]

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