The pigs have been replaced with corn and the field where mainstage once stood is now a meadow, ferocious thistles towering above me. To clear my head yesterday, I wandered round Prospect Farm, just east of the village of Charsfield in Suffolk, the place where Greenbelt began. (I do this every now and then; a friend once described it as my pilgrimage. I guess in a way it is.)
Hopefully the 30-year book will have more details, but yesterday I was clutching copies of old photos taken here at the first Greenbelt in 1974, trying to line them up with the 21st century landscape. The contents of the fields have changed and some of the boundaries have gone too, but there's no mistaking the row of trees striding up the hillside and the proud isolated tree that once looked down on the sparsely populated campsite. Even without the press cuttings it's easy to imagine the reaction of the villagers when they found out what was happening at the farm.
Odd to think 30 years later Greenbelt would still be part of the landscape in one way or another. Odd to find myself living ten minute's drive from this (sacred?) place. As I left, I tucked a smooth stone in my pocket. In a month's time I'll drop it on the new site: a token from one green field to another, a gift from a pig farm to a race track.
(This entry was originally posted on the Greenbelt Blog.)
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