- Limited Land
- Community Gardens & City Farms
- Community Orchards & Food Forests
- Incredible Edible Movement
- Community Supported Agriculture
- Landshare Schemes
- Intentional Rural Communities
- The Sharing Transformation
ANY QUESTIONS CLICK - here
To grow food we need land. Either we need to own land, have the use of publicly owned land, have land to rent, have access to land that is not being used or share land with others. We cannot grow land – it is finite. One of the most worrying modern trends is over populated countries buying up land in other countries which have lax laws on the sale of land to countries overseas, or whose politicians are open to being bribed to turn a blind eye so that other nations can grow food to transport back to their own countries. This is a modern form of imperialism that doesn’t involve armed takeover, but is more insidious.
We need to utilise as much land as possible for growing food for personal consumption, so that we are not dependant on food grown on depleted and polluted land, food that has travelled many kilometres within our country, or imported food that has travelled even further. Food security demands that we source as much of our food as possible as close as possible to our tables. However all is not lost, many people around the world are becoming increasingly creative in ways to grow food in many different ways for local consumption. Here are some of the ways:
1. LIMITED LAND
Most people, who are fortunate to have a garden, do not have enough land and/or time to grow all their needs. On a traditional ¼ acre plot (1,000 square metres), of which the house takes up a lot of the space, there is usually enough garden space to grow much of a families needs, except of course the main staple foods – i.e. wheat, rice and much of our potatoes.
However, on our plot here in Nelson, New Zealand of around 1,000 square metres (1,196 square yards) the house and drive takes up 450 square metres (538 square yards), leaving us with a garden with a surface area of only 550 square metres (658 square yards).
Usage Area Usage Area
|Intensive veg plots||45m2||Olives||8m2|
|Culinary & Medicinal Herbs||20m2||Passion Fruit||2m2|
|2 Apples (Espalier)||10m2||Pear||6m2|
|Blackcurrants||7m2||2 Plums (Espalier)||10m2|
|Gooseberry Cordons||2m2||Compost heaps||3m2|
|Grapes||7m2||Liquid manure tubs||3m2|
|Hazelnuts||12m2||Rain water tanks||6m2|
|Kiwi Berries||4m2||Flower beds||47m2|
|Lemon||6m2||Paved area & Patio||60m2|
|Lime||6m2||Grass + paths + shed||197m2|
In all, we have only 246 square metres (294 square yards) to grow a lot of our fresh vegetables, nuts and fruit + compost and rainwater collection, which doesn’t sound a lot, but with intensive vegetable growing and many of the fruit trees trained as espalier and fans on wires, we pack a lot in to our small space. Here is a list of the fruit trees, bushes and nut trees we have fitted into only 164 square metres (196 square yards):
2 Espalier apples + 2 Espalier pears + 2 Espalier plums + 2 Feijoas + 2 Blue Berries + 2 Figs + 2 Grapes + 3 Hazel Nuts + 15 Raspberry plants + 2 Olives + 1 Dwarf Fan Cherry + 1 Peach + 1 Almond + 2 Lemons + 1 Orange + 1 Mandarin + 1 Grapefruit + 1 Tangelo + 1 Lime + 1 Boysenberry + 1 Blackberry + 1 Elderberry + 2 Kiwi Berries + 1 Persimmon + 1 Pepino + 1 New Zealand Cranberry + 2 double cordon Gooseberries + 6 Blackcurrants + 1 Whitecurrant + 20 Strawberries.
TOTAL: 81 plants
We also have flower beds and grass paths and fill-in areas, between veg beds and fruit, and if we put our mind to it, we could make room for even more edible plants, but we are happy with what we have, as my wife works for a couple of families, one whom grows vegetables and fruit commercially, and the other family that rears a whole range of poultry. As a result she trades work for extra veg, fruit and eggs to supplement our home grown crops. We also used to do volunteer work at Nelson’s Waimarama Community Gardens, which allowed us to add even more veg and bulk crops to our diet. In all these ways and others described below it is possible to stretch one’s growing area.
Even for those who are limited to a patio, or concrete area, you can grow an amazing amount in containers, boxes and pots. By growing up trellises, sticks and strings you can extend your limited area even more. Better still, find a community garden near you and get involved. If there isn’t one in your area, then get together with like minded people, join a community garden, or gardens, in another area, do your homework, draw up a plan and see if you can persuade the local council to rent a group of you a patch of spare ground. There are a growing variety of ways of utilising land for growing food locally, for you, your family and the community – here are some examples:
2. COMMUNITY GARDENS & CITY FARMS
I love the concept of community gardens and city farms with all their variety and creative approaches to encouraging local food production and education. They are just part of many ‘Food Security Projects’ in urban communities. Community gardens range from a shared co-operative area to allotment style individual plots, educational emphasis with workshops training and information, the selling of produce and very importantly – social interaction and a venue for local events. One of the most important roles that community gardens play is giving many people the direct, hands on experience of growing food for themselves and family, that so many have been alienated from in modern urban life. Community gardens and city farms are varied and inspiring, with an endless combination of approaches and activities, however there are some recurring themes that come across:
- A desire to encourage people to grow their own food
- To provide an area for people who have limited or no ground for growing food
- Usually, but not exclusively, a commitment to growing food sustainably and/or organically
- To educate people how to grow food by running courses, workshops, working bees and providing information and library facilities etc.
- A desire to foster community and community activities
I could give many examples of great community gardens in several countries (see CONTACTS below), but I will stick to two I know well. Here are some photos from Waimarama Community Garden, Nelson, NZ:
Waimarama Community Gardens was established by volunteers in the 1980’s economic depression, for the unemployed to grow food. It is a ¾ hectare (1.8 acre) plot of land on the outskirts of Nelson that was once part of a farm, and many hours by volunteers have been donated over the years to create a lovely space. It has been through many transformations since the 1980’s, and is now run by a local group of volunteers who are responsible for the governorship and day-to-day running of the Gardens, either as Trustees or as gardeners, or both.
See: http://thebrookgardens.weebly.com/ where you can see a slide show.
The gardens has a varied mix of activities, roles and buildings:
- Shared growing areas
- Allotment Beds
- Community Fruit & Nut Trees and Bushes
- Gardens for Local Disabled Groups
- Compost Area
- Flower Beds
- Eating and Socialising Area
- Main Building
- Potting Sheds
- Glass and Tunnel Houses
- Compost Toilet
Golden Bay Community Organic Gardens
One of the best examples of a varied and successful mix of approaches I have come across is at GoldenBayCommunityOrganicGardens, Takaka, New Zealand. These gardens have been running since 1986 with many ups and downs. The gardens cover 2.2 hectares (5.4 acres). They have a good mix of 4 areas for allotments, intensive raised beds, a wide variety of cropping areas, seed beds, an orchard with chickens, a wood lot of mature trees, a nut orchard, compost areas, a worm farm, propagation shed, green house, earth house and seed store, tool shed, a solar shower, and a commercial kitchen for preparing food for sale & running cooking classes.
Their activities include:
- Home schooling
- Food co-op
- News letter ‘Budburst’
- Organic shop
- Growing and selling of salad crops to local shops, restaurants, hotels etc,
- Community Work help from the Department of Corrections,
- A venue for local community events These include:
- HANDS market
- Farmers market
- Solstice festival events
- Seasonal festivals
- A venue for private functions
- A wide range of education programmes including:
- Worm farming,
- Worms in Schools programme,
- Home Composting programme,
- Seed saving workshops,
- Organic growing,
- Workshops and activities for children
Although there are ongoing problems with the upkeep of such a large property, the inevitable finances, etc, there is a vibrant, successful and busy air about the place.
- New Zealand: For a list of 110 community gardens, marae gardens and school gardens in New Zealand go to the ‘Soil & Health Association’ website: https://organicnz.org.nz/community-gardens-nz/
- Australia: The Australian City Farms & Community Gardens Network, (ACFCGN) website is: https://communitygarden.org.au/ and for a list of gardens and city farms on: http://directory.communitygarden.org.au
- USA: The American Community Gardening Association (ACGA) website is: https://communitygarden.org
- UK: There are hundreds of city farms and community gardens in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and you can find all about them on the ‘Federation of City Farms & Community Gardens’ website – https://www.farmgarden.org.uk
For those who have limited space, or no space at all in which to grow crops, this is one tried and tested method of growing food for you, your family and friends and at the same time learning from others, attending workshops and encouraging others to enjoy growing food. Although we grow much of our food on our small plot, like most people we are unable to produce the main bulk of our staple foods – grains, potatoes etc. However when we worked at Waimarama Community Gardens we experimented with growing many staple crops for the community, like bald oats, sorghum, quinoa, nuts, kumara (sweet potatoes) and potatoes on a scale that is impossible on a small home plot.
3. COMMUNITY ORCHARDS & FOOD FORESTS
Newly planted Citrus, Feijoas, Almonds, Figs, Hazels & Walnut in our local park, in Nelson, New Zealand.
We are fortunate that we have in our two local town, of around 50,000 people, a pioneering man, who over the last 10 years has negotiated and encouraged some members of the local council Parks & Reserves department to allow local people to plant edible fruit and nut trees in designated areas. He has gathered around him a dedicated group of helpers and supporters and as of this year has managed to create 20 community orchard sites growing hundreds of edible trees! The trees are sourced and the sites prepared by a local contractor that the council uses, and for the first year the local group waters, trains and prunes the trees, and after that the contractor looks after the trees. The fruit and nuts are then available for everybody in the community, helping to provide future food security, along with community gardens and other forms of community growing.
Many community gardens also grow fruit and nut trees, but there are also many examples in many countries, of community orchards and community forest gardens, that are also helping to provide more food security for urban areas, as well as redefining our approach to growing food for all, that reduces the ‘producer/middleman/consumer’ structure that predominates today.
CONTACTS IN YOUR PART OF THE WORLD:
- UK: see – http://www.theorchardproject.org.uk/
- New Zealand: look up community orchards in your area. ‘Food Forest NZ’ is also worth a look: http://foodforest.co.nz/community-orchard-to-forest-garden/ See also the ‘Fruit & Nuts Unlimited’ project– https://www.pledgeme.co.nz/projects/4733-fruit-and-nuts-unlimited
- USA: There are various sites worth looking at: http://www.resilience.org/stories/2014-08-01/20-urban-food-forests-from-around-the-world/ The ‘Philadelphia Orchards Project’ is also an inspiring website: https://www.phillyorchards.org/ Virtual Orchards is another similar idea that involves local groups getting together to grow and pick fruit locally then shearing the harvest amongst themselves – well worth looking at:http://www.hollywoodorchard.org/
- Australia: Phillip Island Community near Melbourne: https://www.facebook.com/islandorchard/
4. THE INCREDIBLE EDIBLE MOVEMENT (Propaganda Gardening, Green Grounds & Urban Gardening Movements)
One of the most exciting movements is the ‘Incredible Edible Movement’, ‘Guerrilla Gardening’ & the ‘Urban Gardening’ movements, which started around the same time around the world, inspiring each other.
The Incredible Edible Movement:
The ‘Incredible Edible Movement’ was conceived and developed in the UK in 2008 by Pamela Warhurst, Mary Clear and a group of like-minded people in Todmorden, West Yorkshire, England, from where it has spread around the world. It is an all-inclusive voluntary gardening initiative, growing food for the public, in public spaces for all to share. As Pamela Warhurst says “If you eat – your in!’ As a result, Incredible Edible groups have started up around the world. There are now 120 Incredible Edible official groups in the UK and more than 700 worldwide, including Christchurch and Geraldine, here in New Zealand.
In Todmorden UK they organised a larger meeting, open to the public, to explain their ideas around growing food in public spaces. They wanted to start a revolution around growing local food and becoming more resilient. And one thing they didn’t do is consult, or write a report – they just did it. The plan was:
- To start growing food on land around the town and sharing it
- Teaching kids in school how to grow food
- And finally to encourage support for local food businesses
As Pamela says – “We are starting to build resilience ourselves, we are starting to build community ourselves – and we’ve have done it all ourselves without a flipping ‘strategy document’. And here’s another thing as well – we have not asked anybody’s permission to do this, we are just doing it, and we’re certainly not waiting for that cheque to drop through the letter box before we start, and most importantly of all, we are not daunted by the sophisticated arguments that say “these small actions are meaningless in the face of tomorrow’s problems” because I have seen the power of small actions, and it is awesome!”
They started very simply with a seed swap, then took over a strip of grassed land next to the main road and turned it into an herb garden. They then took over the corner of the station car park and made raised vegetable beds for every body to share, and pick from, with information on what is growing and encouraging the locals to pick the food that was ready to cook and eat. They then asked the doctors at the local surgery if they could get rid of the prickly plants in the surgery grounds and planted fruit trees and bushes and herbs and vegetables. They planted sweet corn in front of the police station and food at the old people’s home for them to pick and grow.
And because they began to have publicity, people around the country and around the world began to hear of this amazing project and they began to get ‘vegetable tourists’ coming to the town. So they designed a route with information plaques, to take tourists through the town, past local cafes and small shops, and through the market, encouraging visitors to buy food from local food growers and retailers.
They then set up a partnership with the local high school, created a company designing and building an aquaponic unit on land at the back of the high school to grow some fish and vegetables in an orchard with bees; and the kids helped to build that, and they now have kids on the board of the company. The high school is now teaching agriculture. And because the community were keen to work with the high school, they got some land that was donated by a local gardening centre and turned it into a market-garden training centre. As a result some local academics have designed an horticulture course especially for those kids who have never had a qualification before in their lives, who are now really excited about growing food and about their futures.
The result of all this activity has resulted in encouraging local people to support local farmers and growers, which has increased their production and has encouraged new added value products to sell in the market and the local retailers. As Pam says – “We have increasing market stalls selling local food. In a survey that local students did for us, 49% of local traders in our town said that their bottom line had increased because of what we are doing. There are so many things you can do, but ultimately – this is about something really simple – through an organic process, through an increasing recognition of the power of small actions, we are starting at last to believe in ourselves again, and believe in our capacity, each and everyone of us to build a different and kinder future, and in my book that’s incredible”
So, set up an Incredible Edible group in your area, benefiting the local area, providing food for local people and yourself and encouraging people to grow food.
Must see: Pamela Warhurst’s inspiring TEDtalk on:
After the devastating 2011 earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand, the CDHB’s Community and Public Health staff have already transformed a verge of ivy-covered ground between the Manchester St building and the footpath into a vegetable garden. There was no barrier between the garden and the footpath and the public is invited to take produce as it became ready to eat. Health promoter Meg Christie said a few people had taken advantage of the garden by stealing entire plants, but others had been inspired to start their own edible gardens.
In 2014 the Christchurch Council parks operations manager Ross Campbell said that his staff had been out looking at the city’s parks, which would be suitable for fruit growing. He also said work was also being done on developing a food resilience policy action plan for greater Christchurch. He said that for Christchurch to be an ‘Edible City’ the initiatives needed to be community led and community driven.
He wanted to see ‘food forests’ developed on Council owned land where the public can plant and tend their own fruit and nut trees and the produce would be freely available for everyone.
The environment committee also wants any restrictive rules and barriers to such plantings replaced, and a new framework instilled that makes it easy for people to use public land to grow their own food.
In 2015 a group in Christchurch is hoping to turn the city’s residential red zone into edible gardens.
In February 2016 Pam Warhurst travelled around New Zealand encouraging Kiwis to start growing edible food for the public in their areas. She visited both Christchurch and Geraldine.
There has been a flowering of incredible edibles in Geraldine, South Canterbury. Go to the Geraldine website to see all the sites, veg gardens, fruit trees in Geraldine and its suburbs where you can find free food, how you can get involved, and all about the project inspired by Pam Warhurst –
http://incredibleediblegeraldine.blogspot.co.nz/ or their Facebook page:
and you can get in touch on their email: email@example.com
Green Grounds (Gangster Gardeners):
A similar movement was started by Ron Finley in South Central, Los Angeles, which is an area where it is almost impossible to buy fresh food – the only food outlets being ‘fast food’, ‘drive-thrus’ and ‘liquor stores’. As he said in his ‘Ted Talk’ in February 2013:
“People are dying from curable diseases in South Central Los Angeles. For instance, the obesity rate in my neighborhood is five times higher than, say, Beverly Hills, which is probably eight, 10 miles away. I got tired of seeing this happening. And I was wondering, how would you feel if you had no access to healthy food, if every time you walk out your door you see the ill effects that the present food system has on your neighborhood? I see wheelchairs bought and sold like used cars. I see dialysis centers popping up like Starbucks. And I figured, this has to stop. So I figured that the problem is the solution. Food is the problem and food is the solution. Plus I got tired of driving 45 minutes round trip to get an apple that wasn’t impregnated with pesticides.”
So what I did, I planted a food forest in front of my house. It was on a strip of land that we call a parkway. It’s 150 feet by 10 feet. Thing is, it’s owned by the city. But you have to maintain it. So I’m like, “Cool. I can do whatever the hell I want, since it’s my responsibility and I gotta maintain it.” And this is how I decided to maintain it.
So him and the group he had formed called L.A. Green Grounds, got together and started planting a food forest on the strip of land, including fruit trees and vegetables, run by volunteers and he says “everything we do is free. And the garden, it was beautiful.”
But then the council threatened to take him to court, unless he removed his garden. But they got so much support from the press and his local councilman that they one the case.
He then went on to say that:
“L.A. leads the United States in vacant lots that the city actually owns. They own 26 square miles of vacant lots. That’s 20 Central Parks. That’s enough space to plant 725 million tomato plants. Why in the hell would they not okay this? Growing one plant will give you 1,000, 10,000 seeds. When one dollar’s worth of green beans will give you 75 dollars’ worth of produce. It’s my gospel, when I’m telling people, grow your own food. Growing your own food is like printing your own money.”
The Green Grounds group have gone on to build a garden at a homeless refuge for the people there to grow their own food and have gone on to plant around 20 other gardens as well as involving kids, showing them how to grow food, and as he says if they grow the food – they eat the food! He then went on to say:
“Now this is one of my plans. This is what I want to do. I want to plant a whole block of gardens where people can share in the food in the same block. I want to take shipping containers and turn them into healthy cafes. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not talking about no free shit, because free is not sustainable. The funny thing about sustainability, you have to sustain it. (Laughter) (Applause) What I’m talking about is putting people to work, and getting kids off the street, and letting them know the joy, the pride and the honor in growing your own food, opening farmer’s markets.” – It’s not about having meetings – “where you talk about doing some shit. If you want to meet with me, come to the garden with your shovel so we can plant some shit.”
See his inspiring Ted Talk on: https://www.ted.com/talks/ron_finley_a_guerilla_gardener_in_south_central_la
There is a growing movement amongst poor urban communities in India that are increasingly growing food for their communities in vacant plots in India, as well many people growing food on the roofs and terraces of their flats and buildings.
Guerrilla & Urban Gardening in Rio Janeiro:
Once again, it is the poor of Rio Janeiro that are growing food on vacant plots around the city to help their communities, see:
‘Food and Urbanism – The Convivial City and a Sustainable Future’ by Susan Parham
There is no doubt that these inspiring approaches to growing food in urban areas around the world are growing. Ordinary people are growing healthy food for themselves and their communities – as Ron Finley says: “Growing your own food is like printing your own money.” All these initiatives are inevitable for the health and food security of millions of urban poor and not so poor worldwide – bring it on! If you live in a town or city I hope reading this section inspires you to get involved in similar projects.
5. COMMUNITY SUPPORTED AGRICULTURE
Community Supported Agriculture is growing in an increasing number of countries such as the UK and Australia. In the USA, France, Canada and Japan, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) has grown so fast, that in some areas they cannot accommodate the waiting-lists.
Community-supported agriculture (CSA) is a network or association of individuals who have pledged to support one or more local farms, with growers and consumers sharing the risks and benefits of food production. CSA members, or subscribers, pay at the beginning of the growing season for a share of the anticipated harvest. Once harvesting begins, they receive weekly shares of vegetables and fruit, in a vegetable box scheme, and also sometimes herbs, cut flowers, honey, eggs, dairy products and meat, as well. Some CSAs provide for contributions of labour in lieu of a portion of subscription costs. This provides great security for the growers, who have been paid up-front, and who know that their produce has a guaranteed outlet at harvest time.
The members know they will get a share of the harvest, with the proviso that they are as dependent on the weather and the season just as the farmer is.
Further Information & Links:
- New Zealand:
- Wairarapa Eco Farm http://wefs.co.nz/
- Seven Springs Farm http://www.7springsfarm.com/
- Glen Eden CSA, West Auckland http://peasants.org.nz/roots/
- Australia link: http://www.organicfooddirectory.com.au/general-issues/community-food-systems/community-supported-agriculture.html
- UK link: https://communitysupportedagriculture.org.uk/
- USA link: http://www.localharvest.org/csa
6. LANDSHARE SCHEMES
The Landshare Movement was started in the UK by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall of River Cottage TV programme fame in 2009. The concept is simple: toconnect people who wish to grow food with landowners willing to donate spare land for cultivation. The idea is that the owner of the land shares their land with persons or people they trust and enjoys free fruits, vegetables or flowers. The growers share some of the produce with the landowner and keep the rest. There are more than 100,000 people on allotment waiting lists in England alone. With allotment waiting lists massively over-subscribed and people right across the country keener than ever to grow their own fruit and veg, the aim for Landshare is to become a UK wide initiative to make British land more productive and fresh local produce more accessible to all.
Since 2009 it has flourished into a national movement of more than 55,000 people, sharing more than 3,000 acres (1,214 ha) of land in every region of the UK. Landshare addresses genuine concern among policy makers about future food security and greenhouse gases from industrial farming and food miles and the shortage of access to land that many people experience around the world. Landowners get to make more efficient use of their land. Gardeners and farmers get access to land. Landshare is built on the premise that we can create a greener, more organic and efficient world one garden at a time.
Landshare brings together people who have a passion for home grown food, connecting those who have land to share with those who need land for cultivating food. Some of the Landshare schemes not only involve growing vegetables and fruit, but bees, chickens and other animals. It can range from someone with a spare bit of garden, to someone with some acres and dream of a community farm. Land can also be shared by schools, companies and communities. It can be someone who has got to old or frail who has a garden but can’t work it anymore and would like someone to grow food and share it with them.
Landshare is for people who:
- Want to grow veg but don’t have anywhere to do it
- Have a spare bit of land they’re prepared to share
- Can help in some way – from sharing knowledge and lending tools to helping out on the plot itself
- Are already growing and want to join in the community
Landshare began with the tiny seed of an idea – and it’s growing and growing, hopefully it will happen here in New Zealand in a big way. Already there is a landshare scheme in Golden Bay, maybe there are others I am not aware of – anybody know about it?
Link UK: http://www.landshare.net
Link Australia: www.landshareaustralia.com.au
7. INTENTIONAL RURAL COMMUNITIES
Another way to access a larger amount of land is to join an intentional rural community that is based in the countryside and has extensive gardens and orchards and/or a farm. This is not for everyone, but they vary widely and this might be of interest for those that feel they, or their family would benefit from being part of a supportive rural community with land enough to grow food. There is a wide range of intentional communities, from ones that share land, to those where can own one’s own house and garden, or rent accommodation, but with shared ‘common land’ as well as a managed farm.
As examples, I have used two intentional rural communities, one in New Zealand, and the other in the UK.
Kotare Village (New Zealand)
A new exciting sustainable and regenerative community is being created in Hawke’s Bay, that has developed from The Koanga Institute, and Kay Baxter’s tireless work in saving heritage seeds and fruit trees, among many other projects. Historically the Koanga institute and its founders have focused on saving our heritage food plants, including vegetable seeds and fruit trees. As a result, the Institute and its founders have brought together, New Zealand’s largest collection of NZ heritage vegetable seeds (800+), and a northern bio-regional heritage fruit tree and national berries collection (400+) over a 30 year period.
It has also become one of the leading practitioners, researcher and teacher of bio-intensive gardening and nutrient dense food production for home gardeners, and has developed a wide range of educational courses in self-reliance and ecological design which attracts students from around the world.
The Koanga Institute will now be the centre of the new Kotare Village project, which they describe:
“We are developing a self-reliant village in rural New Zealand’s Northern Hawke’s Bay A home for 40-50 families and The Koanga Institute’s Centre for Regenerative Living, based on regenerative agriculture, resilient economy, appropriate technology and building, and trading knowledge within our bioregion and the wider world.”
This is a recent note from Bob’s blog:
Five reasons why intentional communities are more relevant than ever!
March 19, 2015
In the 70’s and 80’s there was a flurry of intentional communities that then seemed to lose their relevance, and less followed. Interest and developments have once again mushroomed for obvious reasons.
- The promise of high tech society and increasing leisure, somehow got lost – most people are working busier lives with bigger mortgages, for what? Intentional communities, where we walk to ‘work’, give us more time to make our own routines, make our own decisions on what our time creates, and for whom.
- Our kids are increasingly being brought up in a virtual environment, and are losing touch with the virtues of being in the environment. Intentional communities give our kids (and us) freedom to connect with a rich ecological and social environment – to be a whole person
- The environment most live in has become the preserve of bureaucrats, and council rules, with your part constrained to within the fence surrounding you. Intentional communities open up your home walking range to a democratic process that you have both say and involvement in – your community.
- We know that all our food is GE free, organic, and nutrient dense, and we know who grows our food. Community dinners are a celebration of life.
- In a world where we are increasingly concerned about the future of industrial society, it is spiritually empowering to get out and action the vision you wish to see, amongst friends, on your ‘turf’.
They’re all life enhancing.
Canon Frome Court (UK):
This description is from their website:
We are a community of about 50 (adults and children), ranging in age from 0 to mid 70s, living in a Georgian manor and 40 acre organic farm in Herefordshire. The house and stable-block are divided into 19 self-contained homes of varying size, so the community includes singletons, couples and families. We do not have a common philosophy, religious or political stance, though there is a prevailing sympathy with green issues.
Canon Frome Court is owned by the Windflower Housing Association, a co-ownership housing association, Those who join the community purchase one of the homes on a 999-year lease, just as they would any other leasehold home, and may sell the home when they wish to leave to an approved buyer. A charity – the Frome Society – manages the hosting of events and workshops such as basket making, singing and badminton. The community also hosts WWOOFERS during the summer.
We farm our land co-operatively and organically (to Soil Association standards as far as possible, but we are not certified organic) to produce a considerable proportion of our food, including a good deal of our own meat. Our stock includes cattle, sheep, goats, poultry and bees. We have a walled kitchen garden of about 2 acres growing vegetables and soft fruits, a large greenhouse, a small greenhouse, 2 polytunnels and a couple of orchards. Our arable land provides wheat for our flour, potatoes, further vegetables and animal fodder. Dogs are generally discouraged, mainly because of the livestock.
In addition to working together and managing the housing association, other community activities currently include supper on Saturday nights (Pot Luck), trips to the pub, a house band, involvement in HArt, as well as celebrations – Bonfire Night, Christmas, Easter, the Summer Party, solstice celebrations, children’s birthdays – and the agricultural rituals of haymaking, harvesting, potato-lifting, fruit picking.
Looking after livestock, growing food, maintaining buildings and equipment and administrative tasks take considerable time, energy and commitment from all of us – although this will vary depending on whether people have full- or part-time jobs and/or young children to look after. We finance activities by monthly contributions, according to size of home and family. Our children attend a range of local schools.
There are of course similar communities in many countries.
- Australia: https://www.domain.com.au/news/meet-the-australians-living-in-intentional-communities-20161024-gs98hg/
- UK: Diggers & Dreamers http://www.diggersanddreamers.org.uk/
- USA: Fellowship for Intentional Community www.ic.org/
- New Zealand: EcoVillage NZ http://www.converge.org.nz/evcnz/about.html
8. THE SHARING TRANSFORMATION
And finally, all of the above examples can be seen as part of the ‘Sharing Transformation’. This is a very interesting trend that may help you to share land. Using the Internet, many people around the world are creating new paradigms based on sharing, rather than competition. Growing food by the creation of ‘Urban Commons’ is one example, growing and sharing food in towns and cities. The ‘Incredible Edible Movement’ also fits into this movement (see above). To use the words from the Shareable website:
“Shareable is an award-winning non-profit news, action and connection hub for the sharing transformation.
What’s the sharing transformation? It’s a movement of movements emerging from the grassroots up to solve today’s biggest challenges, which old, top-down institutions are failing to address.
Behind these failing industrial-age institutions are outmoded beliefs about how the world works –
- That ordinary people can’t govern themselves directly.
- That nonstop economic growth leads to widespread prosperity.
- And that more stuff leads to more happiness.
Amid crisis, a new way forward is emerging – the sharing transformation. The sharing transformation is big, global, and impacts every part of society.
New and resurgent solutions are democratizing how we produce, consume, govern, and solve social problems. The maker movement, collaborative consumption, the solidarity economy, open source software, transition towns, open government, and social enterprise are just a few of the movements showing a way forward based on sharing.
The sharing transformation shows that it’s possible to govern ourselves, build a green economy that serves everyone, and create meaningful lives together. It also shows that we can solve the world’s biggest challenges – like poverty and global warming – by unleashing the power of collaboration.
At the core of the sharing transformation is timeless wisdom updated for today – that it’s only through sharing, cooperation, and contribution to the common good that it’s possible to create lives and a world worth having.
And herein lay the engine of the sharing transformation: When individuals embrace sharing as a worldview and practice, they experience a new, enlivening way to be in the world. Sharing heals the painful disconnect we feel within ourselves, with each other, and the places we love. Sharing opens a channel to our creative potential. Sharing is fun, practical, and perhaps most of all, it’s empowering. It enables us to experience and do things we never thought possible.
We at Shareable can say this because we’ve experienced the sharing transformation ourselves. We are sharers. We’ve told the stories of sharers to millions of people from all over the world since 2009. We’ve seen this transformation time and again in people from all walks of life. It’s why we do what we do. It’s why we believe the sharing transformation is unstoppable.
So join us. Millions of people are already winning in life by working together. Take these simple steps to start the sharing transformation in your life and communities.”
The website http://www.shareable.net/ has continuously updated examples of sharing in practice, such as ‘Sharing Cities: Using Urban Data to Reclaim Public Space as a Commons’, ‘How to Start a Community Land Trust’, examples of a ‘Sharing Economy’, and so on. You can be on their list, so you get regular updates about sharing projects around the world, or post your examples in your area.
This chapter has shown the many ways of not only growing and sharing healthy, sustainable and regenerative food production, but how joining with others in sustainable projects is transformative, productive and very rewarding. In the UK we were part of a local support group of organic smallholders, who worked together and shared ideas and knowledge, as well as working and teaching volunteers (WWOOFERS) about growing food and looking after animals. In New Zealand for four years we were part of a team of trustees and workers at the Waimarama Community Gardens in Nelson (see above) and now are involved in an ongoing permaculture project at our local primary school, working with the children, their parents and members of staff, landscaping, making outdoor classrooms, planting fruit and nut trees, growing vegetables, making compost etc. Although we are officially retired, we get great satisfaction handing on our accumulated knowledge, and seeing a new generation learning to grow food, and continuing to learn ourselves – so here is a great opportunity for you to get involved in your own way!