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Community farm shop plans for disused public toilets in St John's Lane

By citizenmike  |  Posted: April 25, 2014

By Mike Wilkinson, Public Affairs reporter

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The disused public toilets in St John's Lane

Comments (5)

DISUSED public toilets in St John’s Lane are to be transformed into a city centre farm shop.

The abandoned loos will become a community farm shop run by the same people behind Gloucester City Farm, in Tredworth, if the plans are approved by Gloucester City Council.

People will be able to sell their surplus produce at the shop during harvest time, while the rest of the year will see the shop stocked with products from Gloucestershire producers and artisans.

Ismail Ali, from social enterprise firm Gymnation, which runs the popular city farm, said: “The community farm shop is in response to the wider and ongoing regeneration of St John’s Lane.

A notorious blot to the historical city centre, the lane and in particular the toilet block itself has been for a while even before its closure, both a physical and anti-social eyesore for those who frequent this surprisingly busy lane into the heart of Gloucester.

“After some consultation with organisations that work within the local community, it seems that the initial idea of a charity shop seemed too typical of what charity shops in the city currently have to offer.

“The city and its public demand and deserve better and with this in mind, it was decided that any development had to offer a truly unique, engaging and sustainable option.”

He added: “During the late summer and autumn harvest we often find vast quantities of produce from growers, producers and members of the public around the city in excess.

“Many of us have fruit trees in our gardens and are often overwhelmed with the surplus. This often ends up on the compost pile, thrown away or even used as animal feed. This is wholly unacceptable state of affairs in a time of austerity with rising food prices globally. We as a nation, starting at a local level, should be making the most of our locally grown food and cutting down reliance of expensive unseasonal imports.

“So we aim to invite producers, growers and members of the public to come and showcase their produce in the newly proposed shop.”

The toilet block will be rendered with a white lime to spruce up its image and produce will be displayed in a quadrant outside.

City councillor Paul Toleman (C, Westgate), champion for the city centre, said: “This is a great plan. Anything to get rid of those old toilets is a good idea.

“It will be run by the people behind the City Farm. The farm is very popular and well run so I am sure they will do a good job.

“I have been asking for improvements to St John’s Lane for sometime now and this is a step in the right direction.”

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5 comments

  • Kay_Powell  |  April 26 2014, 2:20PM

    There's already a farmer's market, which sells produce from actual farms, so why can't they have a stall there? Where would the city farm obtain its stock? It has an allotment, but very little seems to have been produced there for years.

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  • SandraPee  |  April 25 2014, 10:18PM

    I take it they'll be selling peas............. !!!

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  • aprepper  |  April 25 2014, 7:30PM

    The idea sounds great in principle, with surplus veg being sold during the harvest season. Who would benefit from this? Does the money go into the city farm coffers or could it be used to help more people learn how to grow their own. Is this something that Transition Gloucester could get involved in.

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  • cortezcortez  |  April 25 2014, 5:56PM

    A lot of gardeners swear a bit of urine is good for the veg patch

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  • Kay_Powell  |  April 25 2014, 4:23PM

    If St. James' City Farm were genuinely a farm (rather than a petting zoo) we'd be able to buy bits of animal flesh...

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