With the proposed building of Heathrow’s third runway all but a distant memory, a new project is taking hold of the village of Sipson in Middlesex – but this time, it is sustainable.
Launched in March, the Grow Heathrow initiative has been restoring an abandoned market garden to provide a source of locally produced, organic fruit and vegetables, and create a model for a low-impact and socially responsible future. Six months on and the site is completely unrecognisable; transformed from a rubbish dump into a thriving community space.
“Not only are we producing our own food, we’re now creating our own energy from the sun [and] collecting water from the greenhouse roofs to feed the plants,” say the team. “We’re using the rocket stove invention to heat our water and composting our own manure.”
The project, which was set up by local residents and members of the anti-airport expansion campaign group Plane Stupid, is the biggest yet for Transition Heathrow. After so much uncertainty surrounding the future of the area, they believed it was time to regenerate the community.
Plants and sofas have replaced the 30 tonnes of debris, which was removed by hand from the three massive greenhouses. The site now welcomes visitors and holds workshops and meetings about climate change and permaculture. Recently, the team hosted a Grow Heathrow Banquet to thank everyone for their help setting up the space.
“The project aims to further Heathrow in becoming an iconic point of positive resistance, of transition justice and as a high profile example of a grassroots solution to climate change and peak oil,” says Joe Ryle, one of the members. “We see it as a hub for local residents and environmental activists to share knowledge and skills and bring about a just transition to a more sustainable future.”
As well as moving forward with this project, Transition Heathrow recently set up a solar powered stage and cinema at the local Hayes Carnival, where they also gave away plants and seeds to encourage people to get growing locally. This was followed by an open day in July, which saw a steady stream of recruits keen to have a look round. “It was great to see some new faces,” says Joe. “Everybody who came to visit was shocked and impressed in turn by all the work we’d done since we had taken the market garden on.”
Lily Kember, a member of Transition Heathrow, who was recently named by The Independent in their Green Awards as Best Campaigner, adds: “The site has not just become a place where people can grow things, but where the community can learn to be together again.”
Contact: Grow Heathrow,
Vineries Close, Sipson,
West Drayton, UB7 0JG
Image: residents start to clear the site
Photo: copyright Mike Russell