St Werburgh’s City Farm Cafe at Christmas

I took this picture through the stained-glass window of St Werburgh’s City Farm Cafe at the weekend.

Bristol is a mega-city but blessed by pockets of seclusion – enchanted sanctuaries such as St Werburgh’s.

This little corner of green near the M32 shields the eco-self-build houses, the Wild Goose space,  the Climbing Wall, the Better Food Company, St Werbugh’s City Farm and Cafe and more, and, as my luck would have it, is a ten-minute walk through the allotments from home.

The icy-cold weather of late has been leavened by such pockets of warmth.

Last night, for instance, we went through powdery snow in the empty allotments to the wildness of a contact dance improvisation jam at the eco-built Wild Goose Space where I lay on the floor watching this compelling film, Baraka, then dropped by afterwards to St Werburgh’s City Farm Cafe for the drinks bit of the staff meal.

St Werburgh’s City Farm Cafe has Wifi and real coffee, and a splendid selection of heart-warming home-made dishes many made with produce from the adjoining City Farm.

It’s run by Leona Williamson – unassuming, hard-working and friendly. She and her team won the 2008 Observer Food Monthly award for outstanding ethical achievement, calling it the “ultimate green eatery…(using) not food miles but food yards”.

I wrote about the Cafe in 2008, and – see comments – received fierce rebuke for praising the Cafe’s use of animals from the Farm. I am with Simon Fairlie and the Soil Association on the meat issue. Although I passionately believe factory-farmed meat is wrong – over-produced, cruel, unhealthy, unsustainable and unnecessary – a few creatures on a family farm is another matter entirely.

Back to last night: I met Jack, and discovered he is the Ethicurean now running the Walled Garden Cafe at Wrington, Somerset. I remet (I know this sounds like a poncy eco-roll-call but it wasn’t really like that) Andy Hamilton, of the Self-Sufficientish Bible,  who is finishing a book (a brilliant idea and once O.K-ayed it, I will mention here…) (and it is Booze for Free – good innit?), and Jamie Pike from Co-Exist at Hamilton House, currently congregating food people to make creative use of a communal kitchen at Hamilton House in Stokes Croft.

We talked about the recent Tesco planning fiasco and the importance of creating alternatives (as Jamie and co has done at Hamilton House).

As we left, Leona gave us a bottle of refreshing homemade rosemary and apple cordial from (very) local produce.

St Werburgh’s City Farm Cafe is now closed for Christmas until 15 January.

Apparently Baraka (the movie) means: blessings in a multitude of languages, and this is appropriate, as I felt blessed indeed as we walked home through the moonlit snow.

10 responses to “St Werburgh’s City Farm Cafe at Christmas

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention St Werburgh’s City Farm Cafe at Christmas | Real Food Lover --

  2. What a lovely little blog. It’s so warm and full of positivity with a delightful photo and a scattering of interesting links. Happy Xmas Elisabeth and here’s to an energetic 2011.


  3. And you give great feedback, John. Thanks for highlighting what works.

    I was looking at the tremendously encouraging feedback you first gave on Twitter, and thinking: um, must feature that on my blog…will keep you posted.

    Many thanks for all your support in 2010 and here’s to a bicycle-friendly, peaceful and real-foodloving 2011



  4. I had the good fortune to share the walk through the allotments with Elisabeth, the moon was almost full but the cloud cover was so complete you could not see the moon.

    The clouds shone with the moonlight giving a much softer light than the harder white light and moon shadows normally associated with a full moon.

    It was an enchanting start to a lovely evening of dance and delightful company in a special place devoid of rushing cars and full of magic. I feel like Christmas has begun to reveal its better side at last.


  5. Well, I so wish I could have accompanied you on that walk through your lovely neighborhood, sampling the organic, home-grown offerings of the City Farm Cafe and experiencing the rare snowfall of the full moon/solstice! I hope your enticing blog raises the awareness of those around you (Council Members!!) of the unique, non-corporate nature of Stokes Croft and the folks who call it Home!


    • Wow, Jody, you said it!

      Yes, it is the unique, original nature of Bristol that makes it such a popular place to live.

      Supermarket chains make every town in the UK look and feel the same, as well as reducing the number of jobs and depressing the local economy.

      I find it shocking that councillors are prepared to sell Bristol’s unique heritage to supermarkets.

      Yet, at the same time, the council promotes and funds Bristol Green Capital.

      I do appreciate it is Tesco and the like who are bullying local councils.

      And depressingly, I read today that at least 21 new supermarkets from the ‘big four’ chains were given the go-ahead in and around Bristol in the past two years, according to BBC research.

      Yes, we need MORE alternatives to balance this. And different approaches for such alternatives.

      Councils tend to pick on small shops first, with petty rules.

      For instance, local businesses need preferential business rates (rather than being treated the same as mega-corporates).


  6. i share your love of this end of st werburghs and your feelings really do shine through in this lovely post.
    i feel moved to say that you forgot to mention the community allotment run by GRO-FUN located in this little “enchanted sanctuary”. it needs all the publicity as it can get, situated as it is behind the unwelcoming green metal fences of the ashley vale plot. open days will begin again in earnest in the spring. long live DIT culture and the imagination of the creative alternatives so busy in bristol.


  7. Thanks, Nadia, for your appreciative comment.

    And I am so sorry I did not mention GRO-FUN.

    Let me know make amends:

    As I said on Real Food Lover, GRO-FUN is a miracle of community endeavour.

    GRO-FUN volunteers pitch in, and in return for their impressive labour, they get reciprocal gardening-help either in their own garden or at the community allotment in St Werburgh’s, Bristol.

    Please join GRO-FUN on Facebook.

    And visit GRO-FUN’s website.

    Love, Elisabeth


  8. Panorama investigation on BBC 1 tonight on supermarkets.
    Here is my comment on the news item:

    Can we clear up this myth that food in supermarkets is cheap?

    It’s true that supermarkets sell “loss leaders” such as milk and bread at low prices to seduce customers into the store.

    However – when it comes to milk – the farmers and cows pay the price. Farmers barely cover the cost of production, while the dairy cows are treated like machines.

    When it come to bread, cheap bread is filled with additives, and some are not even mentioned on the list of ingredients as they are considered “processing aids” (ie chemicals to make the weird pap look like bread).

    Customers would be appalled to see the true list of ingredients.

    The other food that is cheap is the kind that is high in fat, additives and sugar – unhealthy nutrition-poor food that make people obese.

    So the NHS picks up the bill on that one.

    The only way to eat healthily on a budget is to cook from scratch.

    Supermarkets hardly make eating healthily cheap.

    In fact if you want healthy fresh vegetables in season, then whatever you do, DON’T shop in supermarkets.

    Research shows fresh seasonal veg is cheaper in market stalls, greengrocers and farmers’ markets.

    This is true for organic veg too. Every month Riverford Organic does a price comparison with nearby supermarkets and their organic veg box deliveries always comes out cheaper.

    I have recently been involved in trying to stop a Tesco opening up in Bristol.

    The campaigners did a price comparison that found local shops in Stokes Croft were CHEAPER than Tesco.

    Over 3,000 wrote to Bristol City Council expressing their objections.

    Out of 500 surveyed, 93% 0f local people said NO to Tesco.

    Sadly, Bristol City Council said yes.

    The trouble is councils are bullied by supermarkets such as Tesco which exploit every planning regulation in the book.

    Tesco even had a third anynomous party with a Bath address make the planning application for change-of-use to shop, so none of the planners knew that “shop” meant a Tesco’s with six deliveries a day on a busy cycle and bus lane.

    At a time when people’s savings are worth 3%, Tesco makes 33% profit.

    And don’t get me even started on tax avoidance…

    Supermarkets are expensive.

    Supermarkets are VERY expensive.


  9. It was a superb night and was great to chat to you Elizabeth. Feel free to mention my book (booze for free)! Will have to get a copy to you for review when it is out.


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