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.

Foraging and Games with the Com.Cafe

Posted: February 25th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Education, Events | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

Last week the local community cafe, ‘Com.cafe’ came to Grow Heathrow for a fun day out.

There were games, foraging leaves, arts, music, lots of muddy shoes and learning lots of new things.

Have a look at the pictures and watch this space for future events

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Grow Heathrow 4th Birthday Party

Posted: January 11th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Events | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

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* SAVE THE DATE: 4TH BIRTHDAY PARTY, Saturday 1st March  *

The past year has been filled with more growing, renewable energy, sustainable building, and much more. 2014 will see us in to our 4th Birthday celebration at Grow Heathrow… (Yes, get ready)

Saturday 1st March from 1pm at Grow Heathrow. Plus Pre-Birthday performance, ‘Three Acres and a Cow’ Land Rights Performance, Friday 28th February from 5pm at Grow Heathrow

We’re breaking last year’s record of over 100 pizzas in our wood-fired clay oven, with a bigger feast, more face painting, seed sowing, arts, more live music and of course the famous bike-powered sound system. Bring your friends and family, and come on down…

Plus, check out our legal update here and come down to site to check out some of our 2013 additions such as the finished straw bale house, artistic totem pole, the new gasifying wood burner and help us kick off our 5th year with a bang.

See you there!

More info and address/directions here:

http://www.transitionheathrow.com/grow-heathrow/

info[at]transitionheathrow.com


Grow Heathrow in print

Posted: January 10th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Cool Projects | No Comments »

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We are pleased to announce that the talented photographer Jonathan Goldberg has published a book which documents life at Grow Heathrow since it’s beginning back in 2010 all the way through to today.

We seriously recommend the book which is available to buy through blurb.co.uk here. You can also follow Jonathan on twitter (@mrjongoldberg)


We fought the Law!

Posted: January 10th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: legal | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

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After all these years Grow Heathrow have finally come to the end of our legal battle!!

We  were not able to take the appeal to the supreme court, as the case was not awarded legal aid, by a body that is being cut heavily by this government. Read more about cuts to legal aid here: http://www.savelegalaid.co.uk/

However, the case has set a positive precedent in housing law that will be able to be used in future cases on evictions for both squatters and exploited tenants. The last appeal heard at the High Court was the first case of it’s type where article 8, the Human Rights Act, was ever deemed to be relevant. Big news in a time where squatting is being criminalized in the middle of a housing crises.

Where does that leave us?

Basically in a similar place to where we were before. Grow Heathrow is still under possible threat, much like the last 4 years, but business as usual continues. The Wind Turbine is still soaring, the Chard is still growing and the compost loo’s are still being stirred!

Mainly we are still trying to create negotiations with the land owners to ultimately and ideally secure the site. With the 3rd runway back on the cards, we are not going anywhere. Watch this space…


Making Terra Pretta at Grow Heathrow

Posted: December 19th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Cool Projects | Tags: , | No Comments »

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Recently some Grow Heathrow residents paid a visit to a small scale farmer in South Wales to see what he’s been doing in the way of reversing the cycle of releasing carbon into the atmosphere by actually locking into the ground.

The first thing you see when you get there is his teeming one acre no dig annual vegetable plot. He combines alleys of perennials, including trees, with annual crops grown on 100metre long raised beds. The tree roots go deep into the soil, retrieving otherwise ‘lost’ nutrients. They also encourage symbiotic fungae which remain present when the annuals have been harvested. The trees will provide food crops and fuel for his biochar producing stove systems.

Just beyond the no dig agro-forestry garden is another field, currently grazed by horses with a small orchard forest garden and two poly-tunnels at the southern side. He plans to plant this field as a larger forest garden with willow and hazel coppice and other food and fuel tree crops which will also increase carbon draw down. These trees will be planted on the berm (the downhill side) of swales (water retaining landscapes) and it is hoped that, through creating these wetlands, some of the carbon drawn down by the trees will be stabilised in the soil.

In his home and in various guest and worker accommodation buildings and caravans, the heating and cooking is done using indoor wood burning stove systems which use pyrolisis rather than combustion to burn the volatile component of wood, leaving the biochar unburnt. This has the effect of stabilising much of the carbon in the wood, preventing it from readily decomposing when it is added to soil.  The biochar is used on the stable floors, the chicken coop floor or added to composting organic matter in order to nutritionally activate the biochar before it is added to the soil.

Ed Revill is working towards closing the loop of his food and fuel crop cycle. More than closing the loop, he does the reverse of food and energy systems which release carbon dioxide into the sky. This he does in two ways; firstly by optimising carbon draw down through optimising plant surface areas and growth rates and secondly by stabilising some of the carbon which the plants have drawn down, making it resistant to bacterial and other decomposition and holding it in the soil. this in turn builds soil and improves soil structure.

He has been using conventional organic farming methods since 1997, using horses to ridge up the soil and hoe the weeds, but now he has turned to preserving the soil structure through using no dig raised beds which have biochar incorporated into the mulch material. The biochar helps to stabilise much of the organic matter used as the mulch through which crops are grow, saving work, conserving precious resources (the organic matter) and reducing run off and atmospheric pollution.

By adding the biochar to the mulch, the soil builds up because the biochar (which is around 95% carbon) will not readily decompose. It has a massive surface area and strong adsorptive properties which enable it to hold nutrients and encourage micro organisms such as arbuscular mycorrhizal fungae (AMF) which have a symbiotic relationship with crops and which help to build soil aggregates. Biochar has been found to dramatically increase the CEC (cation exchange capacity) of soil. This enables the electrical bonding of soil components (adsorption) which further builds soil aggregates.

Tilling or disturbing the soil can disturb the symbiotic fungal networks and destroy the aggregate properties of the soil. The symbiotic fungae (AMF) also produce a form of stabilised carbon called glomalin. This carbon is given to the fungae by plants and in return the fungae bring nutrients to the plant roots. Glomalin acts to bind particles in the soil to create soil structure with strong aggregate properties, soil which retains water, nutrients and fertility and which is resistant to erosion and decomposition.

The inspiration for using biochar to build soil whilst reversing the causes of climate change came from studies of Terra Preta, (Portugese for ‘black earth’), a man made soil found in much of the Amazon basin. This soil supported a large, settled civilisation. This is an important discovery because this civilisation grew as a result of the practice of building soil through stabilising carbon in soil. This is the reverse of our ‘civilisations’ practice of burning fossil fuels and degrading soil, releasing carbon dioxide into the sky, in order to produce food and energy.

Our agro industrial system is failing. It relies on burning fossil fuels, it degrades soil, releasing soil carbon which contributes to climate change which in turn further degrades soil. It relies on land grabs, deforestation and transgenic technologies. If we continue to discourage small scale, soil building, climate change reversing systems of food and energy production through the massive tax payer subsidies to the fossil fuel and agro industrial corporations and through buying food and energy from corporations which destroy soil, burn oil and pollute the Earth then we will inevitably continue to destroy the biosphere.

Inspired by this form of agriculture, some residents at Grow Heathrow have added these tools to it’s array of features, and is producing biochar using a gassifying wood burner and adding it to the mulch. We also have a new willow coppice for the production of fuel to be used in it, as well as drawing carbon out of the atmosphere. Come visit to see how the system works.

To find out more and to see plans for making biochar producing stoves please visit www.soil-carbon-regeneration.co.uk


We’re open again in February, but busy reviewing in January.

Posted: December 18th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Residents | Tags: | No Comments »

kitten-sleeping-1 We won’t be open for workshops of visits during January, as we’re spending a lot of time reviewing and evaluating the last year to help plan for the future.

This includes our structures of working groups, our growing, and how effectively we welcome volunteers and support them to get involved. It also includes exploring wellbeing and working relationships in the collective, visioning of our aims for Transition Heathrow and Grow Heathrow’s futures, and how we sustain resistance. We’ll be open again in February with a bang for loads of preparation for the biggest party of 2014: our fourth birthday on Sat 1st March. Be there.


Fracking test site blocked by wind turbine blade

Posted: December 16th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Action | Tags: | 1 Comment »

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This morning fifty pro-renewables campaigners delivered a 17 metre, 1.5 tonne wind turbine blade as “Christmas gift” for fracking company IGas. The entrance to the Barton Moss test site has been blocked, to prevent drilling vehicles from entering.

At 5.30 this morning (Monday 16th December 2013), fifty people blocked the entrance to IGas’s exploratory drilling site in Barton Moss with a giant wind turbine blade. The campaigners arrived at the site in Salford in Greater Manchester, proceeded to unload and assemble the 17-metre blade from its three component segments. They were spotted by a security guard who called the police, but the officers who arrived on the scene were too late to prevent the blockade from being set up.

The campaigners then left, leaving the heavy wind turbine blade in place across the entrance, complete with a large red Christmas bow. Currently all vehicle access the site is being severly disrupted by the 1.5-tonne blade, which cannot be moved without large numbers of people or specialist equipment.

IGas have obtained permission to drill a 3000 metre (10000 foot) test well at Barton Moss, in the hope of extracting both coal bed methane and shale gas. If the tests prove successful, IGas would then be likely to use the controversial extraction method of horizontal slickwater hydraulic fracturing (or “fracking”) to blast gas out of the ground. In the US, where fracking has been underway for several years, the practice has been linked to water contamination, air pollution, and risks to local water supplies, with over 1000 leaks and spills reported in one year in North Dakota alone. If fracking were to spread across the UK, it would lead to the extraction of large amounts of oil and gas that would otherwise have remained in the ground, with serious consequences for the climate .

The fracking industry itself has admitted that the practice is unlikely to bring down energy bills , and economist Nicholas Stern has accused the Government of “baseless economics” for claiming otherwise. Meanwhile, the Government’s own Committee on Climate Change has released a report showing that a shift away from fossil fuels to renewables and energy efficiency could save the UK public £85 billion per year .

Following a summer of high-profile anti-fracking protests at Balcombe in West Sussex, which ended when the drilling company Cuadrilla withdrew its fracking application, Barton Moss is now widely seen as the new frontline in the battle for clean energy in the UK, and in November 2013 a “Barton Moss Protection Camp” was set up at the site. Actions are frequently launched from the camp to disrupt drilling activities at the site, and at least ten people, including local residents, have been arrested in the last few weeks. This year’s anti-fracking protests seem to have shifted public opinion; according to national polling by the University of Nottingham, support for fracking dropped significantly after the summer protests at Balcombe.

Today’s action was carried out by a group of people from all over the UK who had been inspired by the Reclaim The Power protest camp at Balcombe earlier this year. Sandra Denton, who was one of the people who put the blade in place, said: “We’ve delivered this early Christmas gift to IGas to remind them that we don’t need damaging, risky and polluting energy sources like oil and gas to power the UK. The Government and the big energy companies are planning to build a new wave of gas-fired power stations, partly fed by thousands of fracking wells across the British countryside. This would lock us into using this expensive and dirty fossil fuel for decades to come, trapping us in a future of spiralling energy prices and disastrous floods, storms and droughts as climate change kicks in. Meanwhile, a shift to properly insulated homes powered by clean, community-owned or publicly-controlled renewable energy would rescue millions from fuel poverty, prevent thousands of winter deaths and give us all a decent chance at avoiding runaway climate change.”

Rachel Thompson of Frack Free Greater Manchester, a separate local group who are campaigning against fracking in the area, said: “The Government’s plan to increase our reliance on gas – including fracked gas – would lead to higher energy bills and more pollution. The only reason they’re going down this path is because of the power and influence of the big energy companies. The Big Six can make far bigger profits from fossil fuels than from clean energy or home insulation schemes, which is why they’re using their cosy relationship with Government to block renewable alternatives and keep us all burning their expensive gas. That’s why we all need to stand up for a fairer, cleaner, more democratic energy system without the Big Six profiteers in charge.”

Pearl Hopkins, a local resident, said, “I didn’t know today’s action was going to happen but I’m very glad it did. It’s great that people are coming from all over the country to support us at Barton Moss – and with creative blockades like this one. Local people have tried using all the official channels to object to this scheme, but the Council and IGas seem determined to brush our concerns under the carpet and carry on regardless. We’d like renewable energy for the future – not the destruction of our towns and countryside with thousands of drill sites.”

More information on what’s going on can be found on The Northern Gas Gala website.


Have you got a van?

Posted: November 25th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Residents | Tags: | No Comments »

bikes

We only have bikes.

If you have a van, we’d love to be able to use it for a day or two to get waste slabwood from a local sawmill to build a new compost loo as our current one is filling up ominously. If we manage to get hold of one, we’re hoping to also pick up a wood-burning Rayburn/AGA stove that will help us move away from using fossil fuels to cook with.

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Legal update: no news

Posted: November 25th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: legal | Tags: | No Comments »

I love Grow Heathrow mural

Well, here’s the long-awaited legal update: there’s no news.

We’re still trying to negotiate with the landowner to buy the land, and the legal process seeking to apply to appeal to the Supreme Court is still trundling along.

We still haven’t heard anything from the landowner following the 3 July court decision granting him possession, so we don’t know if he has plans to hire bailiffs, which he could now do.

Grow Heathrow - how can you help

Come down and visit! Come and help out at a DIY Thursday (9.30am till mid afternoon) or run a workshop here.

Third runway? Resistance is fertile!

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Reviewing and Renewing with the Growing Group

Posted: November 21st, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Gardening Club, Growing Group | No Comments »

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Winter Solstice, the first day of winter and the shortest day of the year, signifying the return of the sun, and with that – life.

Grow Heathrow has chosen December 21st as a fitting day to have a Growing Group Reviewing and Renewing Session where we can reflect on last years growing projects, review our practices and renew our enthusiasm and inspiration to take us into the new year with new life.

We’ll be discussing how we work as a group, our vision for the next year and how we’re going to make it possible. We would love your help and inspiration to continue to make our community garden an abundant and vibrant place to be. It will be a space for creativity and imagination, using permaculture teacher Looby Macnamaras Design Web as inspiration for our conversation. We’ll begin with a walk around the growing spaces to reflect on and celebrate our successes last year and end the day by celebrating with a wonderful Winter Solstice meal with friends. Every ones voice is important in saying what you would like to see from your community garden so the more the merrier.

We’ll be starting at 10am, with a break for lunch, and aiming to finish by around 4pm for celebrations. For more information please mail info(at)transitionheathrow.com

We hope to see you all there.