Turning Dust to Soil – Underwood Close site

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FARMLAND ADJACENT TO UNDERWOOD CLOSE, MARSH FARM AND ANCIENT WOODLANDS

When MFO made enquiries with LBC some years ago, to find out who owned this wasteland, council officers found that a declared intention by the development consortium who built Barton Hills decades ago, to transfer the land to LBC for community food growing purposes never actually happened and the consortium then disbanded. So instead of being productively used, by and for the community, the land was left effectively ownerless with nobody taking responsibility, leaving a beautiful community asset to be turned into a potentially dangerous rubbish strewn fly tipping site.

The long promised community use of the land was given another new lifeline in 2003 when the £48.6 million New Deal project included the land in the official ‘Master-Plan’, vowing to turn it into a food growing project called ‘Providence Nursery’. Yet again, the promise was not kept and the land continued to be left as an eyesore and treated as a rubbish dump for another decade.

Now, after too many broken promises and lost decades, members of the local community are now taking responsibility for transforming the land into what it was supposed to be used for, ourselves ‘by the people, for the people’.

To this end, 40 OW participants from Marsh Farm and Luton have already gone a long way into deep cleaning the site of all rubbish (3 trucks worth so far – thanks to LBC for collections) and are continuing to work hard to transform it into a valuable community educational, ecological and economic asset.  

The plan is to promote the growing of local food by local people, with information-boards demonstrating the economics and benefits of doing this. It will also be a celebration of the rich history of Marsh Farm with an Iron Age roundhouse and period actors used as the centrepiece to hands on history tours for visitors including school parties.

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