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Row of buckets with letters on each spelling welcome - each bucket has plants growing in them and they're in a residential area Row of buckets with letters on each spelling welcome - each bucket has plants growing in them and they're in a residential area

Keeping our communities “connected”

By Sara Venn

Following the government advice we are offering an update on our post last week.

As we are asked to socially distance ourselves from each other, it is likely to be difficult to continue to meet, to garden and to eat as communities. Without a doubt we are, and always have been, a movement that hugs, that comes together in front rooms and community spaces, and that connects in a quite physical way to each other. And that must be put on hold and reconsidered. So whilst there is plenty of advice to be had about what to do to keep us safe, we are focusing on how our connected communities can remain connected, if in totally different ways to those we are used to.

Firstly there are some incredible free resources online that enable people to continue to meet from their own front rooms. Most of them are finding an enormous upturn in useage but they are coping and are a great way of keeping connected. Whether it’s to talk about group business or just to check in with each other, meeting is still possible, albeit in a new and different, but safer, way.

Whilst meeting to garden in public spaces is not wise in the next few weeks, mainly because whilst we can keep ourselves safe, we cannot guarantee that everyone will respect our boundaries, those groups who have spaces that are outside the public realm could schedule times to garden in those spaces, and either sensibly keep distanced from each other, or garden at separate times, still getting stuff done but also staying safe. For those without those spaces, considering the time of year, using our own gardens, balconies and windowsills it’s still possible to get crops growing which we can pot on to larger sizes that we normally would, until we are able to plant out in public spaces and propaganda gardens.

In a world where so many get the majority of their news through social media, we can also keep our comms regular, connected not just locally but across the network, and most importantly, positive. Sharing articles that inspire us, books, other gardeners and groups and what we are doing in our own groups, we are creating positive communications in a world where positivity is sometimes hard to find. Telling our tales, celebrating incredible people and telling their stories are all ways to keep people positive and not feeling alone whilst we are all keeping safe but distant from each other.

There will, of course, be vital community work to get involved with to ensure the most vulnerable in our communities have good access to healthy food and feel supported. At the moment there are lots of local businesses being amazingly agile and beginning to look at how they can support us all to be well fed and healthy through this crisis. Local restaurants are planning how they can become take away only, are beginning to bake bread for their local neighbours and are stocking local veg, eggs and other essentials. They are becoming community hubs but will need help and support to get that message out and to work out how best that can work. Food banks will definitely need extra support as will any organisations supporting those for whom food poverty is an issue. As already organised groups Incredible Edible groups will be really well placed to support the organisation of action led community support. Our skills in creating and supporting community resilience have never been more needed.

Do let us know how your groups are responding to this crisis and remember the network is a connected community of Incredible folk, doing Incredible things. Let’s make sure we share experiences, support each other by telling what is and what isn’t working in our individual towns and cities, and keep checking in with each other.