Workshops and conclusions
There were four workshop topics: public sector, private sector, social housing and ‘community’ (the last by far the most popular).
This is in Pam Warhurst’s words a ‘cradle to cradle’ campaign of action and continuing education. And the action involves growing more than just plants – to spread compost and ideas.
Enthused by Mary Clear’s presentation of work in Todmorden, the community workshops wanted to create a national network and to encourage consensus from political parties.
There was a feeling that the energy and enthusiasm of IET could be invested in skills and tools – and could be copied to recognise you don’t need necessarily need allotments, you just need land and the will to grow stuff on it.
How can we engage the public sector in IET-like campaigns? Activists can encourage residents to contact their local councillors about the importance of this work. And we can educate and support elected members and officers, especially where different parts of public bodies have policies that conflict with each other.
IET can be used as a way of demonstrating how to fulfil authorities’ duty to meet local wellbeing. And practically we could roll out the community license for growing pioneered in Calderdale and campaign for national policy.
The Incredible Edible approach tries to involve business and fellow non-profit organisations, from market sellers of local food and donors of materials and help, to local farmers, producers and training and work providers.
But there are many broader ways of pushing for private sector involvement. Radical ways of re-imagining green architecture, for instance, will involve edible walls and plantable roofs in cities.
The IET approach can also help reinvigorate the local market economy; and engage even multinational businesses looking to have green credentials.
As Val Morris of Pennine Housing had emphasized, social housing landlords may be the key way of involving poor and deprived people in local growing and food-production.
Housing associations (rsl’s) can help bring people together, including working with young people and families in community growing, and helping groups get funding. It’s a challenge to get people involved and keep them interested – inventive approaches are needed from developing cooking skills to drawing in people with special events and festivals.
Underpinning this there needs to be an evidence base and quality research into what’s needed and what works.