Kew Bridge Ecovillage
Activists inspired by the land rights campaign group The Land is Ours occupied the long derelict site on 6 July 2009. The Royal Botanic Gardens, the world's largest collection of living plants and pioneer of horticultural preservation, face the ecovillage site on the opposite side of the river. The community was reported as saying it wishes to demonstrate the practicality of permaculture principles, living in simple bender structures, growing its own vegetables and recycling its waste. On May 27th 2010, police evicted the ecovillage. Most of the occupants have now joined Hounslow community land project and Parliament Square's Democracy Village.
The approximately one-acre brownfield site, formerly occupied by the Scottish Widows insurance company, is reported to have been vacant for more than 20 years. As of the 17th of February 2010 the current owners, the property development company St George, have been given planning permission by Hounslow Council for 164 flats, a business centre, gym and pub. St George PLC were granted a possession order for the land in Brentford County Court on May 7, 2010.
In December 2009 the ecovillage had 32 permanent residents (including, but not led by, as has been previously suggested) ex MI5 agent David Shayler. Structures included a shower, compost toilet, and kitchen, mostly bender tents made from tree branches and recycled materials. Consensus decision making was the basis for community organisation, informed by an intention to live a more simple and eco-friendly existence. Food supply was augmented by regular trips to local grocery bins and skips, some residents describing themselves as freegans. The community included some previously homeless people; others left houses and jobs in order to apply on a daily basis principles of anti-consumerism.
The ecovillage conducted a programme of events that have included arts and crafts workshops, film shows, yoga and face-painting classes, pagan festivals, live poetry and music. It also commenced an annual seed swap. Kew Gardens itself (see above) houses one of the world's largest seedbanks.
Documentary Film maker Dean Puckett, a resident of the Kew Bridge Ecovillage from its inception, documented the daily lives of its inhabitants of the village as it evolved over the year of its life. The film, Grasp the Nettle, is due to be released in late 2012 / early 2013.
Artist & Musician Shem Booth-Spains short interview & documentary also interviewed David Shayler and the group regarding the final week with David explaining, sustainable living, the Ecovillage as a learning center for sustainability and living workshop environment where organic food production, natural building, permaculture was practised within the means of nature with a walkthrough into some of the eco methodologies of natural living in the run up to eviction.
- Guerrilla Gardening
- Umoja Village
- Take Back the Land
- Hounslow community land project