Filton's hidden Eden

February 14 2021
Filton's hidden Eden

Shane Gibson meets the team who have transformed a once desolate scrub of land into thriving, working allotments

Hidden behind Millennium Park is a hidden Eden.  Once a thoroughfare filled with burnt out cars and stolen supermarket trolleys, it is now something akin to a wooded wonderland.  It is known as North Park Triangle Allotments, a private allotment accessible only to those whose private gardens open back on to the space.  
I was given a tour by Jason Davison (pictured), Jeanne Clements, and Barry Cowan.
 
Jason Davison
 
Jason told me the story of how the allotments began.
“We started this in 2007. It certainly didn’t look like this at the beginning.  There were house robberies and burnt out cars, and due to the narrow entrances fire engines could not get into this area to put the flames out.  However, once the gates got put in, we had no other issues.  It was a grant from the police themselves that allowed us to put up the fence.”
I was taken on a tour around the allotment andJason pointed out the numerous projects that were currently taking place. 
 “The pond has attracted toads’ frogs and newts and is also a watering hole for foxes and badgers,” he said.
“We have a Beehive with 40,000 bees, taken care of by community members Claire and David which this year, has given us our first lot of honey. We have a swap box for left over produce, and we’re building a pizza oven and of course here is the bar," Jason and Jeanne said together.
 
Plot 4
 
Wildlife cameras have been installed which has led to the catching of a strawberry thief, one of the badgers that has come to use the allotment.  
“Obviously, we are very passionate about what we grow, so when we knew Barry’s strawberries were being nicked, we had to find out who had taken them," said  Jason.
I was shown a wormery from which ‘worm juice’ is taken to be used to water the plants. Barry explained its function.  “It is similar to a compost bin, but works more quickly and the water is good for fertilising.”
Adjacent to the wormery is a large pen holding 10 Indian Runner Ducks, as well as chickens.  The birds help in the community’s aims to be self-sufficient, laying eggs to use for themselves or to sell to family and friends. The birds have a life expectancy of 4-7 years.
The group have themselves aided in saving the lives of battery hens that were taken from a slaughterhouse.
“It was horrendous when they first turned up, they would cower together in a corner having never had any space. Also, they looked oven ready,” explained Jeanne.
 “Not a hair a on their bodies, but within two months they were full furred, full feathered and loving it," added Jason.
It is quite evident that NPTA has been set up in a professional manner.  Without funding they present something that is on par, and in some cases better, than something that would have local authority backing.
Barry, chair of the NPTA executive committee, explained that everything was ran democratically. “There are 18 of us, and decisions are all made democratically.  Everyone is consulted with as a group about everything.  From our yearly tasks,(this year it was Stag Beetles) to choosing who will be looking after each plot, we are all in this together.”
Members of the community have been able to get together in the allotment, socially distanced of course, and it has helped greatly with their mental health.
“It has been great for people’s wellbeing, and we can’t say that enough," said Jeanne  
“We have been able to get together on all sorts of events such as VE Day," said Barrie.
“We were sat out here until 10 at night listening to the Churchill speech on the radio.”
Jason admits that everyone in the community are friends.
“We are friends and with some of us producing home brew, we do have some incredibly good nights. Granted it’s months later when we dig up the empty wine bottles," he said. 
North Park Triangle Allotments is an impressive achievement, built by the hard work of its community members, nature and maybe a little magic.  
The allotments are private, but the members are looking forward to hopefully involving outside communities with a lot of future events such as the Park Road Garden Sale that took place in August this year.