Last weekend we took a trip to Grow Heathrow, an autonomous community space and settlement, on the grounds of an abandoned market garden site near Heathrow airport. We visited to take part in a fermentation workshop run by Fareshares food co-op, and ended up staying for the day.
As a community, the residents have a lot of projects on the go; they grow vegetables, keep chickens, fix bikes, make art, make use of commercial food waste, and recycle materials that would otherwise end up in a land-fill.
Ongoing site tasks are divided into groups which individuals join depending on personal interest rather than being assigned to. This means people can learn more about things they are interested in, rather than being assigned things according to somebody else’s appraisal of their strengths. This seems to work well for them, with individuals also working on their own innovative and artistic projects.
Improvements are constantly in the works. Half-built projects are dotted around site, each moving towards a goal; a shower with a rocket stove hot water convection system stands across from a new shower block in the process of being built. A bike powered washing machine is fed with hot water from the same system. They’ve also taken the time to develop a robust solar setup as well as a self-built wind turbine, combined these provide sufficient power for the limited needs of the 40 or so residents.
Residents are welcoming, relaxed, and willing to share knowledge with anyone curious enough to ask. And all this under the constant threat of eviction. We both have lot of admiration for what they’ve achieved and hope to be back soon.
Here’s some photos of our day: