With Global Sharing Week coming up (16th to 22nd June), this story, told by Celia Williams from Incredible Edible Conwy, shows how sharing and building a kind and trusting relationship can reap benefits for everyone involved.
Within about 18 months of forming, Incredible Edible Conwy realised the need for having somewhere to grow and bring on plants for the scheme. Up to that point Conwy had relied on the group members bringing on plants at home on window sills, in their gardens and greenhouses or giveaways from the public. And although we had a reasonable supply, it was little bit hit and miss for planning the edible beds dotted around public places in the town and it was felt that more control over the plant production was needed which would also assist with the overall management of the scheme.
There were thoughts of procuring an allotment but the waiting list was too long in Conwy. However a garden sharing scheme that was once run by one of the members seemed like a possibility and as luck would have it, another group member knew of a woman called Libet who had well over an acre of land but was struggling to deal with it.
Garden share schemes are about bringing together the community through growing food produce – search the internet for a scheme near you. It’s a vehicle to help people who want space to grow their own food but have nowhere to do it and links them to people who have garden space that is underused. The advantages for both the garden owner and grower include having a share of fresh vegetable or fruit produce, the garden owners get to see their garden flourish and develop again and both parties can enjoy a greater sense of community.
Libet could see the benefits straight away and even though it’s a group of people rather than a sole grower (as garden shares often are) she fully embraced the partnership and was keen to get started. The relationship began in early 2015, which has helped Incredible Edible Conwy massively having space to grow those all-important seeds and also allowed the group to form deeper connections through spending more time together. Libet, herself, didn’t expect the friendships and bonds she has since made with the group members either.
Once a week the session starts with a pot of fresh coffee and biscuits in Libet’s kitchen, which is loosely termed the “planning session”, then out into the garden for two to three hours before Libet comes looking for the group to tell them it’s time for tea. Doing as they are told, they head back to the kitchen with their packed lunches to engage in more conversations over a brew.
To formalise the garden share relationship between the owner and group, an agreement was set up. This sets ground rules and boundaries over the use of the garden area. Which includes items such as which days of the week we can use the space and private times for the garden owner, remembering to put tools away – being tidy, remembering to close gates and very importantly keeping the lines of communication open with the garden owner.
For the group, it has been a very positive venture, this wonderful bit of space has allowed them to grow in many ways. The season starts with planning the area and stock for the edible beds with confidence, knowing that there can be enough plants grown for the duration of the year and more to use as giveaways at events. But importantly too we have made an incredibly strong connection within the community through sharing and through the love of food.
This is a great example of how sharing helps to build kind, confident and connected communities. To find an Incredible Edible group near you, search our map here, or to start a group sign up to our website to get access to our Getting going resources to support new groups.
Global Sharing Week highlights the importance of community, citizenship, poverty alleviation, inclusivity and the protection of the planet, enabling us to build a healthy, sustainable society based around Sharing. Since its founding, it has reached over 100 million people worldwide, with events across all continents. Organizing a local sharing event is a great opportunity to bring people together and cultivate a culture of cooperation in your community. Whether it’s a one-off skillshare or an annual ShareFest, events show people that sustainable, reciprocal societies are possible — and they’re a lot of fun too. You can search for sharing events in your area and find information about hosting your own sharing event on the website.
Let us know how if you have anything planned for Global Sharing Week, we love to hear Incredible inspiring stories!