For this year's European Green Capital, Bristol is bringing togethersome of our favourite green pioneers. Last Saturday, an exciting year of green events and collaboration kicked off, witha stunning high wire display almost 30 metres above the city. After three years of living in Bristol, we celebrate our top 10 :
GRASSROOTS COMMUNITY PROJECTS
Bristol'smany committed and innovative community projects give the city a big green tick. There are so many brilliant groups and individuals working on projects they are passionate about - here are just a couple of my favourites.
1. Bristol Bike Project
This innovative scheme, set up by biking enthusiasts James Lucas and Colin Fanmanages to address social, environmental and monetary problems all at once. People donate unwanted bikes, volunteers from underprivileged and marginalised groups help to repair them and then given away to those in need or sold on at a reasonable price to the public. A simple idea that benefits everyone involved - what's not to like? Find out more about The Bristol Bike Project.
Bristol is peppered with lovely city farms. Our local farm in St Werburghs lies in a valley overlooked by allotments (another thing we can boast a lot of here), which are managed by the farm. We love the farm for providing a small oasis in the middle of the city - our children can run down from the allotment and see the animals - and it costs nothing to visit.
There are also a growing number of small community farms emerging. A great example is Sims Hill, a Cooperative which is owned and run by its members who own a share of the enterprise and get access to fresh, seasonal veg on a weekly basis.
Bristol is home to some of the most inspiring sustainable businesses - you'll find green energy companies alongside leaders in ethical finance and charities.
Triodos is a bank with a difference only lending to organisations that benefit people and the planet. We worked with Triodos for three years profiling some of the amazing projects that contribute to sustainable agriculture, restaurants, to business and energy.
In a city laced with bike paths and where the number of cyclists hasdoubled in ten years, it makes sense to find the organisation that exists to promote cycling and sustainable travel here too.Sustrans is all about helping people to travel more by foot, bike or public transport and that ethos is undoubtedly lived out every day in the charity's home town.
Through our work with Sustainable Food Trust(SFT) campaigning on GM, through to campaigns on the misuse of antibiotics in agriculture and bringing attention to the true cost of food, SFTtakes food issues to a global audience.
As the 2013 winner of 'Best Ethical Restaurant' in The Observer Food Monthly Awards, Poco's sustainable credentials are undeniable. Founder and eco chef Tom Hunt is also a food waste activist and is committed to recycling 95% of the restaurant'swaste and is aiming to reduce its waste to zero. You'll only find food from local suppliers and growers on its menu - and nothing that's been air freighted. Poco is certainly green - but its ever-changing menu also delivers on taste and style making it one of my top Bristol restaurants.
A regular lunchtime haunt for the Greenhouse team, Skipchen only opened a few months ago but it's already firmly established on Bristol's eco scene. It was set up bySam Joseph, co-director of the Real Junk Food Project, whose vision is to supply meals that are cooked with 'skip' food that would have gone to waste tocustomers who pay what they can afford. It's always a lively place and the pay-what-you-can mentality makes it a welcome environment for everyone.
9. Bristol Food Connections
This city-wide festival takes place in May and brings Bristol alive with pop-up restaurants, food trails, street food markets, talks and courses. And of course, expect to find a whole host of artisan producers, local growers and slow food enthusiasts taking part.
10. Big Green Week
Let Bristol Food Connections warm you up for an even bigger eco event in June - Big Green Week. The food theme will continue but you can also expect art, entertainment and music alongside more serious conferences, talks and debates. The 2015 festival programme is still being curated but keep up to date on the Big Green Week website.
It's been hard to select just ten great things about Bristol's eco 'scene' - so we'd love to hear about your favourites too. Are you running an innovative project or working for a pioneering company? Please tell us about it in the comments!