“We have gained considerable public support for our work and inspired the creation of Beacon Farms, a dynamic new social enterprise to educate the growers of the future”.
What is your job about?
I am the main coordinator of the Blue Finger Alliance which was set up two years ago to raise awareness of the importance and rarity of high quality soils in and around Bristol, and to campaign and advocate for its protection and right use. This is in a voluntary capacity. The Alliance is a loose network of individuals and organisations who share this vision. Our work focuses on a strip of Grade 1 Agricultural land known as the Blue Finger (grade 1 is coded blue on agricultural classification maps). We have gained considerable public support for our work and inspired the creation of Beacon Farms, a dynamic new social enterprise to educate the growers of the future.
What issues do you address?
- Strategic importance of food growing
- Soil protection
- Land access
What moved you to take action?
I studied planning at University a long time ago so I have always been interested in the way places evolve, why decisions are made and who makes them to shape our environment. The personal connection with Max Cracknell, project manager for Feed Bristol, allowed me to find out about the threats to the land. I then called a community meeting and it started from there and instead of being an anti Park and Ride campaign as it was then, it quickly became a pro-soil campaign because it is far more compelling to be pro-soil which is positive and energizing. I got together with a couple of boys and set up the Blue Finger Alliance and then called people in the world of local food together for a meeting to help kick it off.
What were the obstacles that you had to overcome?
If I hadn’t been able to be on the dole, I wouldn’t have been able to do it, so it’s great to be in a country where it’s available. I worked very hard for my dole money. To do green work on the dole is massively important in terms of mental and physical health.
On a scale of 1 to 10 (where 1 is not happy, and 10 is very happy) where would you see yourself?
In terms of happiness: probably an 8.