Bristol Gets Growing 2018

Allowing more people to share in Bristol’s beautiful secret fruit & veg gardens.

We did it!

On 9th Jul 2017 we successfully raised £3,045 of £3,000 target with 101 supporters in 38 days

“WOW! I didn’t know this was here!” Trail visitor, 2016

For the past 6 years, Bristol Food Network have run the annual ‘Get Growing Garden Trail’ – a weekend where around 30 of Bristol’s secret fruit & veg gardeners open their normally-closed garden gates to the public. It’s a chance to explore these beautiful hidden spaces, to learn a bit about growing, and to mull over getting involved without the pressure of having to turn-up on a workday. As each group is unique and is run in a slightly different way, it’s also a good opportunity to to find a good fit between potential new members and existing projects – it’s about finding what’s right for you. And if there isn’t anything that’s quite right for you in your area, the Trail offers models for the type of group that you could set up, closer to home.

For the growing groups who take part in the Trail, the benefits come in sharing the load. Bristol Food Network create a shared publicity for all the participants, and organise a get-together for representatives from the groups – allowing everyone to share their tips and experience from previous open days. The Trail attracts both returning and new visitors to the gardens. In 2016 around a third of surveyed visitors were not already growing their own fruit & veg. The Trail helps to convert visitors into members.

“Most people that come for the first time say ‘I didn’t know this was here’.”
Steve Griffiths, Let’s Grow Community Garden and Allotment, Knowle

We have been crowdfunding through the Better Bristol campaign to try and run a different kind of Trail in 2018. As we have not hit our matchfunding target quickly enough, we have scaled-back our plans. If we raise £3,000 through Crowdfunder we can run the normal Get Growing Garden Trail again in 2018, and we'll carry on seeking additional funding to try and run the new kind of Trail as described below.

If we can get additional funds...

Then building on the 6 previous Get Growing Garden Trails, the success of Healthy City Week, and interest in social prescribing/referrals, we would like to explore how food growing spaces can be used by the wider community – not just for growing, but by other health & wellbeing initiatives. For example with Tai Chi in Fishponds community orchard, kids’ cookery on HHEAG's allotment, watercolour painting in Blaise Walled Garden, or joining with a choir at Stoke Lane Community Garden.

We would work with around 10–15 groups who are also interested in exploring this idea. Each group would need to make connections with another local project or practitioner in order to develop and market an event to suit their site – something that would attract a different group of people into the project, who would not otherwise venture on-site. We’ll run the event throughout the month of June, rather than over one weekend. Allowing people to fit in longer visits, rather than trying to cram them all into two days – and also giving the participating groups the chance to visit each other’s sites.

“I honestly believe that there’s nothing more beneficial to your mental health than being outside doing gardening.”
Lucy Mitchell, The Golden Hill Community Garden, Horfield

About Bristol Food Network

Bristol Food Network supports, informs and connects individuals, community projects, organisations and businesses who share a vision to transform Bristol into a sustainable food city.

We started on this journey as a group of volunteers in 2009, and converted into a Community Interest Company in 2014. We contributed to Bristol’s successful bid for the ‘Silver’ Sustainable Food Cities award – Bristol is only the second city in the country to be awarded ‘Silver’ after Brighton and Hove. We have recently obtained funding for a Sustainable Food Cities coordinator for Bristol, allowing us to start working towards a ‘Gold’ sustainable food standard for the city. Our hope is that Bristol Gets Growing 2018 will be part of a strand of work looking at what it might look like for Bristol, if we had gold-standard social prescribing in the city.

More details about some of our rewards


For details of the VIP Lion Feeding Experience, see

For details of Keeper for the day, see

For details of the Meet and Greet experince, see

For details of the Gardener for the Day Experience, see

Please note that Meet and Greet experiences need to be booked in advance, and penguins and red pandas are fully booked for 2017.


More about Jeremy: Jeremy currently heads up Green Future Associates who has just secured a £60k grant for some work on Urban Agriculture in Bristol and Manchester: “We are delighted to have been awarded a £59,200 grant from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, for research into the potential of community and small-scale food producers to contribute to local food systems for these two cities. We will be working with partners Joy Carey and Katrin Hochberg of f3 on this project. We are currently in the early stages of project set-up: more details will follow in due course.”

Please note that we cannot accommodate unaccompanied children on the cycle tour, and that taking part is at your own risk!


We are delighted to offer a ‘behind the scenes’ tour of Southmead Hospital’s new Brunel building. The £430m hospital recently completed represents the latest thinking, designs, technology and innovations in healthcare. With over 800 beds and providing care for 80,000 inpatients, 85,000 Emergency Department attenders and over 500,000 outpatients annually, keeping the services running 24/7/365 and feeding inpatients and staff is a significant task.
The tour conducted by Simon Wood, Director of Estates, Facilities and Capital Planning, will cover the design principles and features of creating a welcoming calming environment that supports recovery and that can cope with large volumes of patients and visitors. It will cover the side of the hospital normally hidden to the public where robots transport stock, linen, waste and food all over the hospital and where over 2000 meals per day are produced. We will speak to the catering manager and food buying team about the trusts local purchasing and achieving and maintaining the Soil Associations, Food for Life – Silver. There will be a visit to the patient meals kitchen to follow the process of meals through production, holding and then distributing to finishing kitchens throughout the building along with delivery to the Gates (wards) for patients consumption. We will also visit the staff restaurant, rooftop terrace and the Jekka McVicar planted herb garden.


Shambala is a family friendly, proudly independent and socially-conscious festival and will be continuing its ‘adventures in utopia’ with another four day celebration of all things music, art, dance, poetry, comedy, workshops and theatre on 24– 27August.

The variety and quality of entertainment on offer is staggering for a festival of its size and as ever, participation is the name of the game. This isn’t a festival where you park your bum in front of the main stage all day – it’s a place to get your hands dirty, whether that means building your own adventure playground, honing your fine art skills in a c*ck drawing class, or learning how to build a house through open-source technology.

Over 200 diverse musical acts will provide the sound track for this year’s adventures – no identikit festival line up here, but show-stopping musical gems and discoveries from all corners of the globe. The full 2017 line up is expected in late March but confirmed names include 65 Days of Static, Alice Russell, Oumou Sangare, Stereo MCs and Hypnotic Brass Ensemble.

Award winning green credentials

Shambala is committed to being as environmentally sustainable as possible and is considered truly pioneering, even winning the European Festival Awards’ ‘Green Operations’ award in 2016. In the past five years, the onsite carbon footprint of the festival has been reduced by 81%, the festival is 100% renewably powered and has banned single use plastics on site

 2016 saw Shambala tackle the environmental elephant in the room by going meat and fish free, a controversial move that paid off when 77% of attendees surveyed voted to keep the festival meat and fish free moving forward. This year, traders remain meat and fish free and food remains very much in focus with dedicated foodie venue: The Garden O’Feeden.

This celebrates all things edible, colourful and sustainable with a mouthwatering menu of demos, banquets and brunch clubs.  This year’s programme puts waste-free dining at its heart, enticing a lineup of adventurous foodies to show us how it’s done.

Theme of dreams

Whilst Shambala has always been a four day escape from reality, this year will take it to another level: with the 2017 Carnival dress up theme, ‘Cloud Cuckoo Land’‘a state of absurdly over-optimistic fantasy where everything is perfect and the impossible might happen’. Just the tonic, given the state of current affairs. Expect dancing cupcakes, candy floss clouds, a month of Sundays at the end of the rainbow, where pigs fly high past blue moons. An all singing, all dancing adventure into utopia.

A secondary theme underpins much of 2017’s content. Each year, attendees vote ‘community’ as the number one thing that keeps them coming back to Shambala – little wonder when life in the UK can feel a little insular. With dwindling natural resources, divisive politics and growing populations, it’s time to come out from behind our closed doors and social media gloss and reconnect with real, wild, life. Where better to do so, then in a field full of people who believe that partying on and saving the world need not be mutually exclusive? It’s time to shake off our individualist mentalities and explore a future that is Open Minded, Open Hearted & Open Sourced.

New for this year

Brand new venues will be welcomed to the fold, such as Botanical Disco, a debauched, late night mirror ball wonderland, pumping out the best in funk, soul, disco and northern soul. Also new for 2017 is The Imaginarium – a forum for ideas, debates, story telling and candle-lit exchanges, based on the coffeehouses of 17th century London. This is a late night sanctuary where Shambalan revolutionaries are invited to join in, hatching out a visionary utopian plan for the world, over some seriously delicious coffee

Everything but business as usual

As ever, Shambala’s programme is packed to the rafters with workshops, debates and interactive, immersive nonsense, from old favourites like Power Ballad Yoga, nipple tassle workshops and the legendary Shambala flashmob!

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