Transformations, that with hindsight seem like rapid revolutions, can seem no more than a series of tiny steps when you’re in the midst of them. It is worth remembering to celebrate those tiny steps in order to keep the momentum towards the changes we want to see. One such little step forward has been taken in our plans to revitalise the Hartcliffe City Farm, as we’ve signed an interim lease for the main site: 6.5 acres on the southern fringe of the city. Hoorah!
Owned by Bristol City Council, the site is brimming with potential to be a thriving hub of community activity that will transform the neighbourhood and become a player in the whole city’s life. In the long term, it will become a multi-faceted place that brings together the local community with training, education, cultural events, gardens, and, of course, farm animals. All framed within the context of a sustainable enterprise that is serious about addressing the threats of climate change.
The redevelopment of the site has started with a partnership between Heart of BS13 and Windmill Hill City Farm. That spirit of partnership will continue through the growth of the activities in the space: most importantly as a partnership with the local community. The engagement started back in 2019 when the Council developed the community asset transfer brief. Local people were clear that the site should deliver on three priorities: access for all; engaging with animals and nature; providing education and employment.
Since then more outreach has been undertaken. Already over 1,000 local people have been engaged in thinking about the future, the impact of climate change and, in particular, the role of the farm in helping to tackle it. Others are taking direct action, helping out in volunteer work sessions to get the site ready. More than 50 local people have volunteered their time – all small steps towards a bigger change.
Having been fallow for some time, the site has needed considerable attention. Beds have been cleared and re-laid to form the basis of a horticulture enterprise: it will grow food and cut flowers. The buildings on site have been surveyed, and work to make them safe and useful is underway. Education spaces are being put together to enable school visits and early years groups. Each tiny step is moving the project forward.
In the spring we hope to open the gates to more general visits from the public. What they’ll find will be a work in progress – a place taking many ‘tiny steps’ towards a transformed future.