Guest blog by Alana Betzold form Tasmania

Last update: 10.08.17 First posted: 10.08.17 by in

Alana writes…
I have admired ‘Incredible Edible’ Todmorden for some time as an example of ordinary people working together to create a more sustainable and equitable community, so I was thrilled to have the opportunity to visit this summer while in Europe. I come from a family that has always grown food, so it is a natural part of my being-in-the-world, but many do not have this experience. Food is essential to life and a great connector, joining us to history, to culture, to the natural world, and to each other, which is why I have chosen it as my focus for research. I am doing my PhD in sociology at the University of Tasmania, looking at ‘alternative food networks’ or diverse economies of food, such as farmers’ markets, food co-ops, and community supported agriculture (CSAs). Outside of the formal economy, the role of free food, such as informal networks of growing and sharing, foraging, or growing food for free access in public spaces are all practices that I believe have great potential for breaking down social barriers and increasing access to fresh food.

Mary's sharing garden
Picture taken on tour in Todmorden, July 2017
In my research, I am particularly interested in the effect of embodied experiences of such practices on encouraging further participation. How does planting seeds, watching them grow, and nurturing them to harvest influence our experiences of the food that they provide? How does growing food for ourselves or through communal efforts in our neighbourhoods affect our understanding of the food system that supports us? Can such practices encourage further participation and how do we get past barriers to participation? I am also curious about the role of the more-than-human (i.e. plants, animals, soil, etc.) in such diverse economies of food and in encouraging participation through their ability to affect us. These are some of the questions that I hope my research will contribute towards answering, building on the work of many scholars who have gone before me and continue to inspire me.
Although my research will be undertaken in a rural area of Tasmania, Australia, I look forward to following the work of Incredible Edible into the future as a wonderful example of grassroots action towards a more inclusive food system. I also look forward to sharing my research findings with Incredible Edible in the hope of working together towards more sustainable and equitable food systems in communities in Britain, Australia, and around the world. Keep up the wonderful and inspiring work!

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