No space for your own garden?  No luck when it comes to rearing your own saplings from a window box?  Fed up of nurturing seeds in your airing cupboard?  Stress no more!  Bristol has an incredible choice of allotments.  So why not sign yourself up on the waiting list and start growing your own veg this summer?

Bristol is the fastest growing city in the UK (as revealed by the Office of National Statistics), with more folks choosing to relocate to the South-West, from London, to take advantage of the shorter commute times that come with the electrification of the rail lines (from London Paddington to Swansea) planned for the near future.  We’re the ideal location, pivoting cosily between the much sought after South-West, the booming economy of London and the South-East, and the beautiful Welsh countryside just a stone’s throw across the Severn Bridge.  It’s no wonder that Bristol is the most popular city to relocate to.

We’re a city of outdoor living, sustainable energy and green lifestyles – with numerous cycle routes, Bristol is paving the way for the UK, encouraging more people to get on their bikes, save fuel, protect the environment and get fit in the process.  Only recently, Bristol installed a bee hotel dedicated to furthering the honey bee population, and add to this the colourful variety of organic, local market stalls of St Nick’s and the consistent commitment to lowering carbon emissions including the turn towards electric motoring, with the aim to see 5000 more electric cars added to Bristol roads each year, by the year 2020.

Big Green Week comes to town this June – highlighting the city’s wonderful, eclectic approach to living a cleaner lifestyle, and reducing our carbon footprint.  A series of events are planned across the city, including the Festival of Nature from 11 June – 12 June, giving you the opportunity to learn more about local wildlife and nature with free events planned across Bristol, Bath and Keynsham.  Also on the programme:  Business Green Week from 11 June – 19 June (specifically dedicated to helping businesses to learn more about reducing their energy costs and operating more efficiently).  Meet the Bees on Gloucester Road (11 June) gives you the chance to learn all about these hard-working creatures, as a whole range of activities and informative talks are planned to take place outside of Room 212.

For a full programme of events during Big Green Week:  www.biggreenweek.com

Bristol Energy Cooperative is a community owned and run project, dedicated to developing sustainable energy in and around Bristol – and encouraging others to do the same.  In 2012, they began their first community funded project – a major installation of solar panels across community buildings in Bristol, including Hamilton House in Stokes Croft, Knowle West Media Centre and Easton Community Centre.  This was further developed to include Bristol Folk House, South Bristol Sports Centre and Empire Fighting Chance.

Since November, Bristol Energy Cooperative has raised over £9million and they are currently working to raise the remaining £1.5million needed to install solar panels across further community buildings in Bristol, including Headley Park, Coniston Community Centre, St Paul’s Church Bedminster, Wick Sports Ground and The Architecture Centre.  Work has begun at Lawrence Weston where they are currently working on installing a solar farm, expected to bring numerous benefits to the local community.  For anyone wishing to get involved, you can find out more here:  www.bristolenergy.coop

Not to mention, the numerous ethically sourced, organically supplied cafes and restaurants across the city.  From Cafe Kino with its organic, vegetarian and vegan friendly options, to The Better Food Company, selling organic, fair-trade products.  We also love Poco Bristol, in Stokes Croft – an ethically, organically sourced eatery offering fresh, seasonal dishes, often supporting local farms in the Bristol area.  The Thali Cafe is another winner – using only locally sourced, free range meat, sustainably sourced fish and seafood, organic, locally sourced dairy, seasonal and local fruit and vegetables and recycled packaging, including their takeaway Tiffin scheme which reduces waste.  We also love Wise Beans Cafe in Stokes Croft, with their raw cocoa bombs infused with dates and raw cocoa nibs.

Grow Your Own: Bristol Allotments

If you want to try your hand at growing your own, and creating your own organic dishes form scratch, but your back yard is no bigger than a postage stamp, why not consider signing yourself up for one of Bristol’s allotments? With over 100 to choose from, there are no excuses for not finding one close to your neighbourhood.

St Annes Arlington Road Allotments offer 15 individual plots, all on level ground, with a good water supply.  There is currently a waiting list.

Ashley Down Ashley Vale Allotments offer 169 individual plots, popular for young and older gardeners alike – this plot is perfect for you if you are looking for a vibrant community with innovative ideas and a wildlife hub.  There is currently a waiting list.

Brislington Bath Road Allotments offer 73 individual plots, just opposite the Keynsham Garden Centre, with vehicle access and space for both vegetables and poultry.  There is currently a waiting list.

Bedminster Bedminster Down C Allotments offer 146 individual plots, with green compost bays and good access. There is currently a waiting list.

Eastville Colstons Field Allotments offer 51 individual plots, on a lovely, green site just adjacent to Eastville Park. There is currently a waiting list.

Downend Downend Road Allotments offer 11 individual plots, with convenient access.  There is currently a waiting list.

Bishopston Redland Green Allotments offer 111 individual plots, with challenging terrain, running down one side of the valley.  There is currently a waiting list.

Speedwell Whitefield Road Allotments offer 102 individual plots, in a large area, with recent improvements having been made.  There are green compost bays, water troughs and good access.  There is currently a waiting list.

For a full list of allotments in the Bristol area, and to register your interest:  www.bristol.gov.uk

And once you have found your perfect plot, why not whip up this beautiful, fresh, summer salad, courtesy of Babs at Bristol’s very own Cafe Kino?

Fresh Flower Salad (serves 4 as a side, 2 as a main)

  • 10 Nasturtium flowers
  • 10 Calendula flowers
  • 7 Courgette flowers
  • 15 Borage flowers
  • A crisp lettuce, such as Little Gem, torn (not chopped) into chunks
  • 10 lemon Sorrel leaves
  • 1 handful of rocket
  • 1 handful of fresh mint leaves
  • 1 handful of fresh parsley leaves1 handful of fresh basil leaves
  • ½ cup of pumpkin seeds
  • salt
  • pepper
  • olive oil
  • 1 lemon

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Wash and gently spin all the ingredients in a salad spinner. If you do not have a salad spinner, rinse and place in a colander over a bowl to drain for 10 minutes, shaking occasionally to remove excess water.

Break the lettuce into chunks (tear, don’t chop) and place into a large salad bowl. Tear up the courgette flowers, sorrel and rocket in a similar fashion and sprinkle on top.

Get the fresh herbs, borage and nasturtium flowers and put in the salad bowl. Sprinkle Pumpkin seeds on top. Pull the petals out from the calendula flowers, and add to the salad.

To make the dressing, take the juice from one lemon and pour over the salad, a good drizzle of olive oil; then add some coarse ground black pepper and salt (add more later on if needed).

Using your hands, toss all the ingredients together until the dressing is well distributed. Serve as a main for two with a french baguette and spread, or as a side with other summer platter dishes.

For more information on Cafe Kino:  www.cafekino.coop


For more information on Bristol Green Capital:  www.bristolgreencapital.org