At last, a ‘good news’ story about travellers …..

Cornish Guardian – 18 September 2003

A small group of men and women in Penwith have spent the last 18 months turning a former council dump into productive land where they are growing vegetables and sunflowers.

They have also enhanced the wildlife habitat at the site and now boast a host of wild visitors including the spectacular hummingbird moth, rare butterflies and numerous species of bird.

But these budding young environmentalists are not part of a local clean-up group, but are “travellers” who have set up home at the former county council storage yard near Tredavoe.

And at the end of the month they are holding an open day in the hope that local people will take the opportunity to meet them and dispel any fears or stereotypes they have about them.

“It looks very much like we are going to be evicted from the site within the next month or so,” said Izzi, who at 41 is the oldest of the group.

“We have to go to court at the end of the month, but don’t hold out much hope of being allowed to stay because our vans do not have planning permission.”

Izzi said that the group, which consists of individuals and couples, each with their own camper van or minibus, changes size as people come and go.

“This year’s occupants have built raised beds for the planting of vegetables, growing their own beetroot, beans, tomatoes, carrots, onions, broccoli, lettuce, cabbages and herbs,” she said.

“We draw drinking water from a fresh water spring and have built an ecologically friendly loo, where we use sawdust and chippings to reduce smells and deter vermin.”

Penzance chef, Nathan and his girlfriend, Cath, are about to have their first baby.

Nathan said: “Some of us have jobs and pay taxes.

“Cath and I would like to be able to rent a flat, but have only been offered B &B accommodation by the council. If we accepted it would mean we would be thrown out onto the streets each day with the baby, so at the moment our own van seems preferable.”

Another member of the group is Martin – a volunteer at the Penzance Bat Hospital and an expert naturalist who arranges nature walks through the Penwith countryside.

Barnaby also lives on the site. He has been working for the charity, Mencap, but dreams of his own organic farm.

“We hope that by inviting people here to an open day, that we can show local folk that we are not drug addicts, thieves or layabouts,” he said.

“Some of us have chosen to live in vans and travel around the countryside, others have no choice because of the housing situation.

“We are not a threat to anyone and it is a pity that there is no room in society for people to have an alternative lifestyle. If we are evicted, all our work will be destroyed and the site returned to rubble and rubbish.”

The group – which currently consists of Izzi, Nemo, Nathan, Martin, Barnaby, Cath, Simba, Alan, Snow, Anya and Kev – hope that local people will attend the open day on Sunday September 21 from noon to 4pm.