We’ve grown plants aplenty. To allow them to flourish into abundant crops, they find homes in gardens. If there are more gardens there is more food, if there’s more plants, can there be more gardens? Not quite. There are obstacles in the way of that.
There are scarce few funds to enable agroecological food growing startups.
Part of the aims of Earthed Up! is to donate a portion of our stock to community ventures. In the last couple of months we have had the pleasure of supporting and working at Starkholmes Allotments. As you may, or may not know the society there is under threat of eviction by the landlord.
Where can we grow?
The right to land for growing in this country (as elsewhere in the world) is incredibly political. The competition for land is high. We often have impassioned conversations with passers- by at our allotment regarding building of new houses or land that has lain waste for decades. Our weekly operation meetings are interrupted by the constant roar of lorries taking aggregate to a new building site off Belper Lane.
Land going for building is only one issue out of many: most of the UK is owned by private estates (Duchy of Cornwall, the Crown Estate, Duke of Westminster to name a few). Much of the land around our allotment, and indeed Belper is owned by the Strutt Estate. The Chatsworth Estate own land to the north of that, and so it goes on….
In a land of small gardens, rented houses and huge tracts of land being unavailable, allotments are important. The ability to grow your own, on land you steward, and bypass the supermarket is intrinsically political.
Using what we have
A researcher at Lancaster University called me as they had heard about the work we are doing. We will feature as a case study in a paper covering agroecology, https://www.agroecologyfund.org/what-is-agroecology viewed through a Latin America lens. (Agroecology in Latin America is theoretically and practically different to our presentation in Western Europe. It’s very hard to summarise in less than a few thousand words or hours of discussion).
What the researcher was drawn to was that we are working on such a small scale and that we rent all of our land. We took opportunities that were presented to us on starting up. Also, in reality there’s no land on the market! That’s before considering suitability – road access and within commutable distance of Belper. And capital i.e. it costs thousands of pounds to buy land, we don’t have that.
We are really appreciative of the people collaborating with us to give access to land, enabling us to grow plants! And a lot more. We are just getting started on our gardens, still – a year in. We’ll be evolving the designs to improve our land based systems, that is water, soil health, propagation space and so on.
We use what we have. Once you have access to land, that’s the very start. There’s a lot of regenerative work to do thereon in.
Please could you share with as many growers, green supporters, tree & flower lovers, pro green spaces, community people as you can? There is a true urgency to reach the target:
On the horizon, we at Earthed Up! have opportunities to improve access to edible gardening and growing. If you are passionate about growing food, regenerating land and working with others please be in touch; email or call or talk to us at an event (see our About page).