good for bristol

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Bristol squatters visit Yorkley Court land squat

Yorkley Court's land squat's been going for about five months.  They've set up homes in unused buildings, started growing food, raised pigs and are making a good go of it with local support.

A car load of us from Bristol travelled out to Yorkley Court land squat on Saturday, 3 November 2012.  One of us had spent a few weeks living there early on in the occupation but overall we didn't know what to expect.

The land was occupied about five months ago by a group previously involved in squatting the wilderness centre in the Forest of Dean.  Yorkley Court itself is near the Forest,  about five miles north of Lydney.  The group were invited on by locals opposed to a land grab by a solicitor.

We rang in advance and got details of where to go and parked up just inside their gate.  We then walked on foot about ten minutes along a muddy, rutted track.  Ooops - us city dwellers hadn't thought to bring wellies, not that we've got wellies.  After some stumbling and squelching we made it to their main site, going past a pig pen and straggling attempt at an allotment on the way.

The main site consists of two world war two vintage giant Nissan hut things - apparently used to repair tanks, a big poly-tunnel and a self-built kitchen hut.  People are living hither and thither within the buildings.  The self-built hut is impressive, put together out of off-cuts given free from a local sawmill, green branches and tarps it's got a real visionary feel to it.  While we were there it was being lined with clay squelched with bark strips to seal it.

The issues around the ownership of the land are fascinating but baffling.  The people there tried to explain it but it went right over my head.  Hopefully once it all shakes down the occupiers will end up in control of at least the land they're currently on.  Or as they put it "create community ownership of the farm."
Their current site is at the bottom of a slope so - at least at the moment - is all a bit damp feeling.  There's room to expand but they are being cautious and sensitive to local politics and feeling.  There's a large farm house but it's pretty derelict and will take a lot of work to get it habitable - at the moment it's protected by an impenetrable wall of brambles.

I think the Yorkley Court lot deserve support from anyone interested in sustainable, small-scale farming, land rights, squatting and eco-activism.  They're a good bunch and have achieved a lot in a short time.  For more info, news and contact details check their blog.

Cheers to the Yorkley Court people for making us welcome and TG for the lift there and back.

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