Hearing the purity of purpose in Lindsay’s words I felt instantly bonded with her. I knew we would be allies for years and that her success was my success. It reminded me of when I met Miranda. In the space of a short conversation we were crying and hugging each other. I knew I could trust her. I knew that she was on a path parallel with my own. Miranda’s has become one of the most important friendships in my life, because someone facilitating a protest meeting asked us to tell the person next to us why we were there.
Over the next day I formed an impression of Bristol that seemed to revolve around food growing. Looking at the events I saw advertised, most were to do with food and local food production. I walked passed a lot of large allotment areas which is unusual in a city, but is a big part of the feel of Bristol. An old colleague of mine Dermot, told me that he’s been looking at alternative urban food production. In a shipping container with a green wall he was growing food and fish in water using aquaponics and hydroponics.
“It uses 70% less water than traditional agriculture, recycles the food waste, avoids imports and you can grow all year round.” he told me. “It’s still early though, there’s a lot we’re working out.”
“Do the fish get distressed,” I asked, “being all in a small space?”
“Well these fish live in shoals, so they like to be close. They can be distressed if there are too many or if they are too far apart.” he said.
“What about the trace nutrients that humans need, that we get from the soil? A lot of modern food is degraded in nutrients because of the intensive farming.” I said.
“Yes, I don’t know yet to be honest, but that could be very interesting, to be able to add them.” he said, looking interested at the further aspects to research. “A lot of our food is actually already grown using hydroponics abroad. We import 40% of our food in this country.”
Returning to Fai’s place was wonderful, a surprising oasis of continuity. Another gorgeous dinner and night of chatting, then a whole day on my own in the flat to catch up on writing for the website and researching places to go. I felt restored, and eager to get going again.
By chance it was self-build week so I returned to St. Werburgs to find the Wild Goose Space for a tour and a self-build event Steffie had told me about. The building is used as a community and business space by the community. Every one of the fifty-odd chairs in the meeting room was full, with people wanting to build their own homes, or businesses wanting to be involved. The slide show ran through the stages of the project and some of the varied architecture that people had created at Wild Goose.
Wild Goose is a community of self build homes. The forty dwellings were built by their owners as a group using a Community Land Trust model which has aspects of shared ownership. Self build homes are classified as ‘custom build’. Not all planning authorities are familiar or comfortable with custom build but there are many organisations who can offer support and help, including The National Self Build Association.