Posted: March 20th, 2014 | Author: Musicraft | Filed under: Events | Tags: access to land, activism, birthday, climate change, community, direct action, resistance, sipson, Squatting, sustainability, transition | No Comments »
Credits to Community Food Growers Network for this report and photos
Grow Heathrow, the squatted community garden by Heathrow airport, celebrated it’s 4th Birthday on Saturday the 1st of March.
People came from Bristol, Cambridge and France to kick off the celebrations with ‘Three Acres and a Cow’ on the Friday evening- a people’s history of Britain through folk songs, stories and poems connecting The Norman Conquest and Peasants’ Revolt with the 80′s road protests and Occupy via the enclosures and Highland Clearances.
Over 50 folk sat down for a hot skipped meal to watch the show which included performances from ‘Crazy Dvine’, Mark Brown, storyteller Nick Hunt, and Keely Mills who is Poet Laurette for Peterborough.
Saturday morning arrived and saw 150 people pass through the gates for site tours, cob-oven pizzas, seed sowing and sunshine.
The highlight of the day was definitely the Cake competition which saw the site turn into a kind of amphitheater arena with the audience finding viewing points on piles of logs, the cabin and whatever else they could find!
Cakes were followed by some top speeches from local campaigner Tracey, John McDonnell MP, Grow Heathrower Sam and supporters of the project.
As the blight of the Heathrow Third Runway still threatens the village of Sipson, and the Con-Dem government continues its mania of austerity cuts, it was once again inspiring to see Grow Heathrow thriving- putting politics into practice and building community power in the face of economic, ecological and democratic crises.
To find out more about Grow Heathrow visit www.transitionheathrow.com
And to learnt about storyteller Nick Hunt’s new book ‘Walking the Woods and the Water’ see http://nickhuntscrutiny.com/
Music from 3 Acres and a Cow at https://soundcloud.com/crazydivine
Credits to Community Food Growers Network for blog and photos
Posted: December 19th, 2013 | Author: Freddy | Filed under: Cool Projects | Tags: climate change, sustainability | No Comments »
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
Posted: November 19th, 2013 | Author: Freddy | Filed under: Art, Cool Projects, Education | Tags: access to land, climate change, eco building, education, Geodomes, projects, Squatting, sustainability, sustainable technology, transition, workshop | No Comments »
Come and help build a 17 foot (5.1816m)! Geodome at Grow Heathrow. The workshop will run for a week from Friday 6th Dec.
We’ll be using a unique design that innovates the geodome structure for ease of assembly. This design incorporates a new star connection method that enables just one person to construct. Laying out the cover over the stars means that the cover will be already in place as the geodome is erected. Possibly included in the course will be waterproof seam sewing techniques and dome canvas sewing if we have time. The course will be limited in numbers to 4 persons each day so please email in advance to let us know your availability and interest so we can maximise participants.
Geodomes are based on triangular geometry and were popularised by Buckmeister Fuller. They are predominantly used for earthquake relief due to their intrinsic strength at intersecting joints, this makes it an ideal solution for earthships, which this model is intended.
We will be using recycled metal poles from the dilapidated greenhouses we have on site. Geodomes are one of the most versatile structures available; they are scalable and can be made into any size you wish, you can use all sorts of materials available, and can be used for all sorts of applications, and they can also be joined together.
We will be using a 3V design, which means it has 3 different size pole lengths. It also has the option of a 4/9 or 5/9 variant, which alows the dome to have 2 different heights, either less than or bigger than half a sphere.
Hope to see you budding eco builders on the week of the 6th.
Posted: November 18th, 2013 | Author: Sam | Filed under: Action | Tags: balcombe, barton moss, climate change, energy, fracking, occupy, protest | No Comments »
A lot changes in a few decades. I wonder what those 60s activists saving the whale would think of us now, as thousands of people across the UK sign up for text alerts so that they can pitch up a tent near Manchester to stop fracking. They’ll have to accept that activism’s moved on. Marine mammals have got to try a bit harder or they’ll be forgotten to the 21st century’s totally new narrative. It’s 2013. We’ve got to save the shale.
Welcome to the Northern Gas Gala.
24 hours after first major activity begins at IGas’ Barton Moss site, people will be converging for The Northern Gas Gala. All are warmly invited to join residents in a show of front-line protection against those that threaten us and our environment. Stay informed by signing up at northerngasgala.org.uk, to ensure you receive an invitation to this most poignant of parties.
All those signed-up at northerngasgala.org.uk will, when the Gala beckons, receive a text message with a start time.
WARMING! The arctic is melting. Frack less. Fly less.
Posted: September 1st, 2013 | Author: Sam | Filed under: Action, Energy | Tags: activism, balcome, climate change, direct action, fracking, protest | No Comments »
28 Days Later: Please spread far and wide
A Rolling Blockade of the Balcombe fracking site, 1st September – 28th September
Fracking company Cuadrilla’s governmental licence to drill in Balcombe ends on September 28th. The government may be allowing them to drill but they have no social licence from the people of Balcombe to frack their land and threaten their water supply. Neither do they have any mandate to begin an entire wave of fracking across the country. The vast majority of people in the UK want cleaner, greener energy.
After the upsurge of climate activism at Reclaim the Power in August, let’s make these last 28 days count. Let’s halt their work at Balcombe, and also send a strong message to those wanting to frack elsewhere.
A blockade has been on-going at the drilling site, but trucks have still been getting through. Now it’s time to up the ante.
We invite groups from around the country to come and play a part in a 28 day rolling blockade.
Think creatively and act responsibly. Pick a weekday before September 28, gather friends and useful kit get yourselves to Balcombe.
Fracking is stoppable, another world is possible.
Posted: August 12th, 2013 | Author: Sam | Filed under: Action, Events | Tags: activism, climate change, cuadrilla, frack off, fracking, no dash for gas | No Comments »
Hundreds of climate and anti-cuts activists are planning to ‘swoop’ on
a secret site in the Balcombe area where shale oil and gas company
Cuadrilla is engaged in exploratory drilling.
Swoop participants will meet at Balcombe Train Station at 1pm on
Friday August 16th before moving en-masse to take the site. The five
day action camp taking place there – named Reclaim the Power – will
run from August 16-21 and involve ‘mass, audacious and creative acts
of civil disobedience’. 
Cuadrilla has a six week concession in the Sussex village to drill for
shale oil, but 85% of Balcombe residents oppose the drilling. Over 45
local groups opposing fracking have sprung up around the country in
response to requests by Cuadrilla and other companies to drill in
their area.  Balcombe is widely regarded as the frontline in the
government’s dash to frack the UK for fossil fuels.
The group spearheading the swoop – No Dash for Gas – shut down EDF’s
West Burton power station in Nottinghamshire last October. 21
activists occupied the site and lived up two chimneys for a week, in
protest over what they describe as climate chaos and escalated fuel
poverty if the government’s ‘dash for gas’ goes ahead.  The protest
prevented over 23,000 tons of carbon emissions and resulted in EDF
suing the group for £5million – a suit dropped after just three weeks
due to massive public outcry including a petition signed by 64,000
Now the group is mounting an ambitious action camp with a coalition of
organisations including UKUncut, Disabled People Against the Cuts, the
Greater London Pensioners Association, Campaign Against Climate
Change, and Fuel Poverty Action. The Reclaim the Power camp at
Balcombe will see participants engage in workshops covering extreme
energy, Just Transition and work, resisting government cuts and
solidarity with communities on the front-lines of climate change.
The camp will also include a full day’s ‘direct action training’ where
participants will plan a number of ‘missions’ together before engaging
in 48 hours of action against Cuadrilla.
Sharon James of No Dash for Gas said: ‘Our event is called Reclaim the
Power and that’s exactly what we need to do. We need to reclaim our
energy system out of the hands of corporations that will frack our
countryside, crash our climate targets and send fuel bills through the
roof. We want democratically controlled, renewable energy. Our action
will echo the local community in showing Cuadrilla that fracking is
unwanted, unsafe and unnecessary.’
She went on to say:
‘Fossil fuels are not the answer to our energy gap. Social, economic
and climate justice movements can and will unite to stand with
affected communities to resist this undemocratic activity. We urge
Cuadrilla to stop drilling, get out of Balcombe and drop fracking,
Ken Savage, aged 91, of The Greater London Pensioners Association
said: ‘We lend our full support to and stand solidly with Reclaim the
Power. Many pensioners dread the winter where many of us cannot afford
the heating and are seeing our friends pass away un-necessarily. 7000
people died last year – many of them pensioners – because they
couldn’t afford to keep warm. Many of us see climate change as a real
threat to our grandchildren. We want to see a change in this country’s
energy policy which takes climate change seriously, makes the change
to safe and sustainable power and which serves human need and not
corporate greed. We will be present at the camp and look forward to
taking part in this important event and protest’.
 http://www.nodashforgas.org.uk/  http://frack-off.org.uk/local-group-specific-pages/  http://www.nodashforgas.org.uk/uncategorized/press-release-campaigners-from-no-dash-for-gas-abseil-90m-down-power-station-chimney-to-end-7-day-occupation/
No Dash for Gas Media Team 07447 027112
Posted: May 25th, 2013 | Author: Sam | Filed under: Action, Energy, Events | Tags: activism, climate camp, climate change, direct action, energy, no dash for gas, resistance, sustainability | No Comments »
Is Climate Camp back?
Big decisions are being made now about how we’re going to power the UK. The government’s policy of increasing our reliance on gas is pushing millions into fuel poverty. This – coupled with ruthless cuts to essential services – leaves many with an impossible choice between heating and eating. And the same policy guarantees that we’ll miss even our modest carbon reduction targets. Both the financial and the climate crises are related to the pursuit of profit above all else, in the interests of the few and at the expense of the many.
We need a win. And one win we need is a secure future for generations to come, where profits don’t trump the public interest and where we have safe, clean energy to meet our needs.
Be part of creating something BIG this summer, get involved now and Reclaim The Power.
We can fight back, as the student, trade union, women’s, disabled rights and anti-cuts movements have shown us. There has never been a more critical time to take action. The solutions are there to be grasped.
21 people went up two chimneys but 64,000 came down
Last October, 21 environmental activists shut down EDF’s West Burton power station for a week in protest at the government’s Dash for Gas. West Burton is the first of up to 40 new gas fired power stations being planned. With your help, including a solidarity petition signed by 64,000 people – they fought off EDF’s attempt to sue them for £5 million.
This summer, inspired by their action, we are building a wide coalition of groups and individuals who will be coming together to Reclaim the Power. We’ll plan together. We’ll put forward solutions. We’ll cross the border from anger to action. It was people power that stopped new coal and stalled plans for a third runway at Heathrow, that made bankers’ greed and tax avoidance toxic and that is now fighting austerity attacks on workers, women, pensioners and the disabled. Together, we will stop the dash for gas.
Want to be part of creating Reclaim The Power? Wondering where we’ll be, how you can get there or what you need to bring? More info to come soon, keep up to date at:
Posted: April 18th, 2013 | Author: Holly | Filed under: Cool Projects, Education, Energy, Events | Tags: climate change, energy, peak oil, resistance, sustainability | No Comments »
The Energy Group at Grow Heathrow is kicking of a series of Sustainable Technology training days with a workshop on how to build your own generator from scratch – Saturday 27th April at 11am – 6pm
The small Wind Turbine that was kindly donated by one of our supporters isn’t quite up to scratch for our battery bank. We need to make some new windings, so what better opportunity to share our knowledge than by inviting people to come and share in the experience.
We’ll be going through winding our own coils with ceramic coated wire, setting the magnets in resin and then configuring the coils to produce energy as the magnets pass.
The workshop will be accompanied by a delicious lunch. Donations gratefully accepted where possible. Check out our Facebook event or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Come on down to Grow Heathrow to get skilled up for the Self Empowered Energy Revolution!
Posted: January 31st, 2013 | Author: Sam | Filed under: Cool Projects, Education | Tags: climate change, eco building, green building, peak oil, re-skilling, sustainability | No Comments »
Here’s an appeal from our friends at thePOOSH.org, an inspiring grassroots movement that’s supporting people to learn and try out green building for free. They’ve helped us roof our straw bale house, and engineered us a fuel efficient rocket stove that reduces wood consumption by burning secondary wood gases. Now they need some money to keep doing what they’re doing:
In September, thePOOSH team started a four month tour of the UK–travelling, speaking in Universities, helping at build sites and just spreading the word of sustainable building and the organisation. For now we have completed the tour and have in total of 14 build sites registered on our website in the UK.
Well a bit about thePOOSH. Our vision is to someday see a world where community-driven sustainable construction simply will be known as construction, and we want to inspire and empower people to build economical, sustainable, and community created structures by creating a network of volunteers that exchange knowledge, labour, and experiences!
At the end of the year we wrapped up the tour in Scotland where we spent a week intensively planning the future of thePOOSH: our goals, dreams, roles, responsibilities and about a thousand (+/-) future projects!
Well, we are growing fast, and as of today we have over 500 users and 41 build-sites (and at least one build-site on each inhabitable continent!) Today alone 20 new users joined our ranks! But we want to be even more constructive and we want to continue building the movement! Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: January 24th, 2013 | Author: Sam | Filed under: Action | Tags: access to land, activism, anti-airport, climate camp, climate change, direct action, eviction resistance, Squatting, sustainability, zad | 2 Comments »
Saturday, November 17th – Day of Reoccupation.
A yellow forklift truck leads the way; walking close behind is a block of Zadists carrying a fortified banner declaring: No to the airport and its world.
Behind them 20 tractors pull huge agricultural trailers filled with building materials: piles of pallets, straw bales, tyres, doors, windows, prefabricated wooden walls, hundreds of planks, corrugated iron roofing, tools – pretty much anything you can think of, including kitchen sinks.
We sit on top of one of the trailers. The affinity group from our local village has decided to build one of the constructions for today’s reoccupation action – we have named it the Black Bloc Sanitaire – it’s a shower block and bank of compost loos. The pile of building materials that we sit on is much more messy than the trailer behind us which carries the wood for a group of young architects. The architects have a super neat stack of carefully numbered pallets and the rumour is that they have already practiced setting up their dormitory building in the main hall of the Nantes school of architecture. Our construction doesn’t even have plans that are to scale, but we are hoping that the collective energy of the day and a dose of spontaneity will see something rise from the pile of rubbish we are sitting on. This is the opportunity of a life time for anyone who has ever dreamt of building their own cabin, rebel palace or fortress: A free plot of land, no planning permissions or building regulations and hundreds of people keen to help build.
None of us know where we are heading, the location has been kept a secret. From high up we see the river of human being flowing behind us, snaking through the country lanes as far as the eye can see. As always, we have Radio Klaxon on in the background, they have just announced that the mainstream media think that there are 40,000 people are on the action and over 400 tractors! We are all here on an illegal demonstration whose aim is to build a rebel settlement together on the land earmarked for the airport (see part 1). Last night the president interrupted a state visit of Poland to make a statement about the protest, reminding the French public of the “power of the law.”
A year ago, when I first saw the flyer for this action, with its floating date to reoccupy 4 weeks after the first eviction, I thought it was a great idea but that it would be a handful of tired traumatised post eviction activists symbolically rebuilding a couple of huts. Little did I imagine I would be taking part in one of the largest act of mass disobedience I’ve ever experienced and that we would have enough material to build a hamlet. The fact that there is not a single police officer in sight, however, not even a helicopter watching above, is strangely disconcerting.
Read the rest of this entry »