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Twenty people planting on a large plot in a park - photo credit Hugh Warwick Twenty people planting on a large plot in a park - photo credit Hugh Warwick

Campaigning For #MoreLand

By Sara Venn

As we move into 2020 our collective power across our Incredible Edible Network increases, both in the work we do on the ground and the communication we do to support that work.

At the Network our aim has always been amplification of that work, connecting the community of groups nationwide and supporting that work by relevant campaigning and working with others who share our aims and ethos. Over the last year we have joined in with Food Citizenship conversation and worked to show the power of grass roots action, and communities working to make the change they need. That will continue throughout the year ahead and we are working to create some defined Incredible Edible campaigns that will support us all to create more change.

One of the issues we know many groups have is getting permission to work in spaces where they see a need for a change. Whilst we understand a reticence, we think the time for courage from local authorities and other landowners is now. With dwindling budgets authorities need to support grassroots action, and trust communities to create change. Rather than creating more hierarchical systems and employing community workers who often live nowhere near the community they are trying to support, resourcing those communities and working in partnership with them, would create not just change but trust, and allow community champions who are already trusted to support the change the community wants. And one way authorities could do that is of course to remove the barriers to using those small pieces of land that Incredible Edible groups take, tidy and support into productivity.

Of course land is under pressure. Need for building homes, roads and shops and other amenities has become huge and hence land is at a premium, but often the land we are focusing on is unusable for much. Those small pieces of ground, corners of parks, railway stations, sides of footpaths, in playgrounds, areas of social housing land or cycle paths are mainly not useable for building and are forever going to be lost and unloved unless the community changes that. Making land available for community use takes that pressure away and whilst it can be challenging, with a good usage agreement, and the understanding that over 140 groups are already doing this, creating this legislation would be a massive step in a positive direction.

So, to challenge this we have decided our first campaign for 2020 will be #MoreLand. Our ask is that groups, and individuals, record photos of land that would be appropriate for use by Incredible Edible groups and share those photos to social media using the #MoreLand and #IncredibleEdible hashtags. By sharing the posts we will create a timeline filled with underused, unloved spaces that with little support from local authorities could be not just made better but turned into community assets that support connected communities, bring people together over food and increase inclusion and good neighbours. By supporting this we will all become part of a movement unafraid to ask for radical change, but through kindness and a will to support healthier environments. We look forward to seeing and sharing your posts on both Twitter and Facebook.