Grazing wasteland in the heart of Bristol, Street Goat is bringing community together around sustainable milk and meat, and conserving local biodiversity.
By Alexandra Genova
April 27, 2021
The BT Tower, one of Bristol’s iconic landmarks, rises up from Purdown Hill in an area of inner-city parkland, where twin goats lounge in the sun against the remains of World War II gun batteries. These dystopian concrete relics — now covered in the city’s fabled graffiti — have played host to a lot of “anti-social” activity over the years.
But since the goats moved in, Purdown Hill has transformed, says urban farmer Mary Dobbing. “People living alone come for a reason to get out and families bring their children every day to look at the animals,” Dobbing says. She’s keen to stress, though, that this isn’t a petting zoo. “People can be shocked that the goats are not pets and will be eaten one day, but we have to maintain that this is a working farm.”
Street Goat isn’t your average farm. It operates over two grazing sites — five in winter — and three micro-dairies in and around Bristol. Members like Dobbing pay an annual contribution of £70 (€81, $97) and work a minimum of one milking shift a week.
None of the dairies are licensed — for that they would need to meet very strict commercial standards — but since the members effectively own the goats, the dairy produce is for personal use. The meat, however, can be sold since the animals are slaughtered at a local abattoir in Langford. And there’s always a waiting list when they are.
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