Middle Ground Growers – new visionaries of Bath and Avon

The following (scroll down) is taken from a post on the Facebook page of Middle Ground Growers, a farm on the edge of Bath in north east Somerset, posted on 7th Jan 2022. They talk about city-region permaculture design, bioregions and a powerful story of place. Music to my ears. Reading this got me unusually excited about what is possible, and within grasp, in my home bioregion: the West of England (or is it the Bristol and Bath City Region, or perhaps simply, Avon? What is its identity?)

With Petronella Tyson (Greengage) and Jerome Thomas (Green Party), I’ve recently opened up a conversation with the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) mayor about food, and their role in creating a resilient, healthy foodscape and food economy across the West of England (Bristol, Bath & North East Somerset, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire).

It’s early days and we’re some way off from operating within the frame of an Avon bioregion, for example, but as the wonderful Joe Brewer said, ‘The Survivors will be Bioregional’ and we would do well to consider the West of England scale as one that holds myriad potential solutions to the many social, ecological and economic problems that are about to burst over the horizon any day.

I’m currently reading ‘Think like a Commoner’ by David Bollier which brings to life beautifully a solution that is staring us in the face, and which has been so cleverly concealed from citizens and communities – that we, as ordinary people, with our ideas, skills, expertise, patience, commitment, love, energy, needs and multiple other capacities can generate and manage our ever dwindling resources ourselves, long term. No way!

At a time where both the state and markets are failing disastrously with the management of anything, where resource management means depletion, extraction and destruction for the private gain of a few at the expense of the many, and of future generations -and this with the support of governments- a Commons approach, local people collaborating for collective sufficiency, self-provisioning, meaningful livelihoods and fair shares within the means of the planet, rooted in place, is our best hope by far. Middle Ground Growers weave the threads of commoning and bioregioning together in a powerful Story of Place. Read on below….

Middle Ground Growers, 7th Jan 2022 : (from https://www.facebook.com/MiddleGroundGrowers/)

A PERMACULTURE DESIGN FOR OUR CITY What might happen if we begin to vision the thriving communities of Bath within a flourishing Avon bioregion? This is what a bioregional permaculture design for the area might reveal… This year we’ve been through a permaculture design process of observing the land, listening to stakeholders, speaking to community, seeking advice, mapping sectors (eg soil , weather), analysing data, Evaluating and re-designing! Now we’re beginning to implement parts of our design (thanks to our crowdfunders!!) , and we are continually asking how it fits within the bigger picture – the socio-ecological systems we are nested in. One such example is the Avon bioregion which is the ecologically and socially distinct area surrounding the Avon river valley. What is special about this place to you? What might you include in a permaculture design for our city or county? Of course we focus on the food element and envisage zone 1 (closest to city & people) with allotments, urban gardens, farmers markets and community restaurants championing local produce. Going from zones 1 to 5 (restored wilderness), there are a diversity of appropriate scale ecological farms, land-based livelihoods, community orchards , CSA schemes , regenerative forestry and ecological restoration. This is just a seed , a longer design process ongoing whilst we work the land and build collaborations with others in our bioregion. We’d like to hear your inputs on this city wide design process – send us a message! ❤️Lets not just “be hopeful” but “live hope”. ??#bioregion#permaculture#design#csa#vegbox#ecofarm4bath#allotments#local#thrive#regenerate#hope

This work is being enabled through a local group of diverse stakeholders across Bath convened by Paul Pivcevic – see his Third Horizon podcast here. His interview with Hamish from Middle Ground is episode 5.