Main image: Andy with Jess the pig who will be going to a new home.
Chances are you might not know that tucked away behind The Park Centre in a tranquil area of Knowle West is a mini urban farm.
Home to a menagerie of animals including two goats, a pig, 12 turkeys and around 20 hens – Andy’s Haven is an oasis of calm as the name suggests.
The smallholding and organic community garden off Daventry Road also contains a pond and flock of ducks, three geese and several beehives. There’s also a polytunnel – where produce is grown to be sold in the Centre’s reception area.
The driving force behind this restful space is 67-year-old Andy Moseley, who over the past 12 years has put his heart and soul into transforming a once run-down plot of land.
Initially called Buried Treasure, the name was changed in 2014 to reflect the nature of the peaceful spot and the man behind it.
“The Park don’t want me to go… but it’s my decision…”
Now with development work already underway to build a new community centre on part of The Park’s 15-acre site – the farm is going to be dismantled and some of the livestock rehomed.
Andy, along with other tenants in the current Centre, was due to move to another part of the site when the new community building is finished around October this year. This work will be followed by the construction of a much-needed new 900 place secondary school for the area.
The sale of some of the land and its development will ensure the future of The Park, which is home to some 31 other groups and organisations.
It will also provide the charity – which supports local people to learn and gain employment – with an essential new building, as the current 1970s structure is ‘not fit for purpose’ and costing too much money for upkeep.
But after much deliberation, Andy has decided not to move with the other tenants.
He told The Knowledge: “I want to make it absolutely clear, The Park don’t want me to go, they’ve been brilliant – but it’s my decision.
“I can’t guarantee the animals’ safety on the new site as they are going to be right next to the new academy. The site has been made as secure as possible but kids will still throw things over the fence and put sticks through.
“When I first had animals here I had loads of problems but now the trees are high, I don’t. There are no trees along the fence at the new site…”
Awards and accolades
Over the years the community garden has won a string of awards in the Royal Horticultural Society’s (RHS) South West in Bloom Pennant Scheme – including Outstanding, Gold and Silver. Andy has also taken part in Bristol’s annual Get Growing Trail which features local food producers across the city.
The Haven has also featured on the BBC’s Urban Jungle as a wildlife space – with Andy turning one corner of the plot into a nature area.
One of its most famous former residents, Kurk the turkey appeared in a winning entry for the ’24 Hours in Bristol’ photographic competition in 2013.
Andy has also played host to local schools and community groups, giving them a small taste of farm life on their doorstep. And at the annual Park Fest – his animals have always proved a popular attraction for local families.
“The Park are like my family…”
But the smallholding has been more to him than a commercial venture – never turning a profit – with staff at The Park like “his family” and his livestock “his babbies”. He even famously took Kurk home every Christmas for his own safety.
It will be the end of an era and Andy has not taken the decision to leave lightly – once saying when interviewed in 2014: “Hopefully I’ll die here. I’ve always been interested in wildlife and gardening is a passion. It’s not work for me.”
He’s now desperate to find happy and loving homes for some of his animals – where they will be given the same level of care he has lavished on them over the years.
He is taking the goats Molly and Roly with him, the geese and eight of the hens – but he needs homes for the other chickens, Jess the pig, around 20 ducks and ten of the turkeys.
He says: “… I’m not giving them to just anyone. I will have to check they are going to be looked after.”
Since announcing his decision yesterday on Facebook, Andy has been inundated with messages from the community not wanting him to go.
He adds: “I’m at my happiest when I’m at The Park and I will still be back to do the grass, the flowerbeds and pots. I love the place and I want it to look colourful and tidy.”
Director of The Park, Emma Hinton says: “Andy has been an integral part of The Park for many years and his centre has bought much enjoyment to many of its visitors, including myself!
“I completely understand and respect his decision to not move with us into the new building, however we will be sad to lose him. We will do all we can to help Andy rehome the animals.
“Despite retiring Andy has also happily agreed to still be a part of The Park family with gardening and maintaining the grounds.”