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Three people weeding around a raised bed - behind is a shed and the site is close to housing Three people weeding around a raised bed - behind is a shed and the site is close to housing

Bravery and Being Incredible

By Sara Venn

Activist:a person who campaigns to bring about political or social change.

We often refer to Incredible Edible groups being brave and courageous and thought it would be ideal to look at what that means as we spread across the country and the world; supporting more connected communities to find their own local solutions to the big issues of the day, such as climate breakdown and biodiversity loss.

Every person who is involved in Incredible Edible is a local activist, a word which in itself often causes concern and can be uncomfortable for many. However, we believe people should be proud to be activists, because all it really means is someone who is active around a particular issue, whatever that might be. Activism, like anything else, can be extreme and if you google activism the imagery is quite dark and menacing. In reality, anyone who stands up for any issue and asks for change is an activist and we should take that word back and start being proud of it as a term to describe those of us creating positive change in the world and looking for a kinder future.

Activism in itself is always about bravery. Whether you’re on a march or creating an edible landscape, the message is exactly the same, and that is that we think we need whole system change socially, politically and worldwide, to look to the future in a completely different way. By creating gardens and growing spaces, giving away our harvests, participating in surplus food supply use and supporting local production, Incredible Edible groups across the country are gently showing, through positive action and change, that a different, more positive and people focused future could be a reality. It shows that there is an alternative to the future we are being told will happen. But groups are also disrupters, often another term seen as negative.  In reality, when disruption is used to show a positive way out of a problematic situation, it can be a real force for positive social change.

Incredible Edible’s activism is different. Our motto, ‘If you eat you’re in‘, means that we succeed only once we have full community engagement and have listened to that community, ensuring they are included within the activism. Inevitably, that means our activism is led by kindness and a desire to bring everyone together around food. Supporting a connected community is hard and a challenge, as occasionally there will be conflict. But food is something everyone can get behind, bringing people together in a manner that is very much like co-production, ensuring everyone can have their say in a safe and understanding space. Food, whilst seemingly the most simple thing, creates a safe, non political or hierarchical space, allowing people to feel confident in speaking and advocating for themselves as well as those immediately around them, even if it is a different stance to others.

Creating these spaces, connecting people, and ensuring full community engagement takes courage. Bringing amazing folk together, talking about a different way to do things, looking at how to make a landscape edible and nature friendly is a huge challenge. Explaining to people why there is such an urgent need for change and how to create a different food system that supports shorter distribution chains, local growers, farmers and small producers, all takes courage and a deep seated belief in the need for change in the first place. It also requires people to share the belief that food is a key element in supporting full systems change. Understanding not just why skills are being lost but being brave enough to advocate for good education around food, be it growing or cooking, and seeing it as vital for health, is courageous.  Daring to ask for change, for challenging the decisions made by local authorities and organisations all takes bravery, as of course, does growing in a public space.

However, we rarely think of ourselves, as Incredible Edible groups, as being brave or courageous! We just get on with the job at hand and that’s what makes Incredible Edible such an inspiring movement. It is genuinely full of folk making huge change through positive action in their communities and disrupting as they go – all holding kindness at their core. That’s what makes them truly Incredible!