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Building Incredible communities across North West England

By Sarah Ward

Ian Bocock is our Regional Facilitator for the North West of England, supporting new and existing groups to develop their Incredible activities.  Ian was formerly part of Incredible Edible Salford, and now runs Incredible Education, so is in a great position to offer wise words of wisdom about both growing plants and growing groups.  Here we hear from Ian about what’s been going on in the North West recently.

It’s been such an exciting time in the North West because we have lots of really enthusiastic Incredible Edible groups (25 to be exact) as well as lots of budding groups looking to set up some Incredible activities in their communities.  To help support all these groups, we recently held our North West gathering, ably co-hosted by Incredible Edible Prestwich and District who are involved with the Barn in Whitefield, Greater Manchester, a great venue to hold our event.  We had 50 people attend the day, representing 11 of the groups across the North West, who all got to hear our Founder Pam Warhurst give one of her inspirational talks.  We also heard from Gary Stott, Incredible Edible Network Director, who launched the new Growing Leaders programme which we’re really lucky to be piloting in our region.  And Sarah Ward, Project Manager, talked us through some of the Incredible resources which are available on the website.

The main purpose of the day was to build connections between Incredible Edible groups, which we most definitely did.  We heard stories from Incredible Edible Knowsley, Incredible Edible Egerton and Incredible Edible Greenmount, which inspired a range of conversations over an amazing lunch (cooked by members of Incredible Edible Prestwich and District with produce grown in their plots) where groups were asking questions and taking notes so they could follow up after the event.  We also held a foraging walk, woodworking demonstration and had great plans for some forest school activities but the weather had other ideas!  All in all though, it was a great day where everyone left having made new friends and connections, as well as feeling inspired to carry on or develop Incredible activities.  One of the things I heard being discussed was the range of businesses you can get free wood from which would otherwise have been binned – builder’s merchants, sofa makers as well as DIY stores.

Building kind, confident and connected communities is what Incredible Edible is all about and our event definitely showed how that can be done when we all come together.  From across the North West we’ve had 10 new groups get in touch this year, two of whom have launched and are now running regular Incredible Edible activities; Incredible Edible Knowsley and Incredible Edible Rosegrove (part of Canal & Rivers Trust in Burnley).  And at the event we had some people who were thinking of setting up new groups.  You can’t underestimate the importance of sharing stories to inspire others, which is why we’ve set up a closed Facebook group for Incredible Edible groups across the North West – if you’re from the North West and you’d like to join, then request to join this group https://www.facebook.com/groups/241646829840997/.

And get in touch as well if you’ve got a story you’d like to share across the Incredible Edible Network.