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Looking forwards to new growth for the network

By Pam Warhurst

As we navigate through unprecedented times, both in the UK throughout the world, our vision to create kind, confident and connected communities has never been more timely.

You will know that over the last two years the Incredible Edible Network was fortunate enough to have received two-year funding from the National Lottery Community Fund to fund the Roots and Branches project. The project was about gathering the learning from our groups, sharing that with others and also reaching out to support new groups who wanted to start their incredible journey.

We worked with a team of Regional Facilitators, grass-roots Incredible Edible members themselves, who in turn went out to both support new groups and learn from existing ones, seeking to make connections across the local groups in regions. We recognise that we are a network of networks and as people gathered together in their local areas to share their incredible journeys, we could also now share that learning through the Regional Facilitators team, with the whole network able to benefit from that connectedness and learning.

With our new website, we have gathered over a hundred pages of learning in our Toolshed, invested in local networks to connect groups together, engaged with other organisations like Councils and thee NHS to seek new ways to support groups and piloted grass roots leadership programmes.

How far we’ve come as a network – some highlights from our Impact Report 2019:

  • By the end of 2019 we have a magnificent 144 Incredible Edible and Friends of Incredible Edible groups
  • We now grow food on around 16,744+ sqm of land
  • A huge 88% of groups have supported local businesses and engaged in a number of activities which bring the ‘business’ plate to life:
  • 78% of groups have connected with other groups in the network
  • During the growing season, just over half of groups meet weekly or more (51%) with the vast majority meeting for between 2-4 hours together (87%). Overall, in 2019, this averages out at around 2¾ hours a week, every week of the year, for every one of our Incredible people.
  • During the Roots & Branches project alone, across 2018 and 2019, all of this activity equates to around 117 years of time given to their communities by all of our groups!

But more than anything, we’ve learnt that there is a real truth in our message; that the power of small actions really makes a difference.

Despite that funding now coming to an end, the Regional Facilitators have kindly agreed to stay on as volunteers in order to support and empower local groups in their area, in whatever way they can.

We are currently thinking about the future and the things we would want to seek funding for. We have always been a network that believe that people’s assets were more important than chasing funding, so it is important that we pursue the funding that best enables us to support active food citizens and connected communities.

In the meantime the network will continue to reach out, to listen to and empower those who want to continue their incredible journey.

Pam Warhurst writes –

Hello out there to all our Incredible Edible groups and all of our friends.

These are sad times for so many people but times that demonstrate the overwhelming importance of growing and supporting each other in every way we can; and there’s no better way than through the power of small actions.

Incredible Edible is a very timely movement.

So many of our groups are working at the heart of their communities to add our spirit and courage to that of other grassroots activists. Some are stuck indoors but sowing seeds for others to plant out and share.

You know the breadth of our activities better than I.

With fellow members, we continue to amplify what you do to those who need to hear it, from national funders to networks across local government and the NHS.

We’re plugging into Lord Bird’s work on the Future Generations bill, which could make so much of what you’re doing normal business for everyone.

We’re working with NHS colleagues to pilot more Edible surgeries and hospital sites fighting for a sustainable healthcare system and we’re connecting the dots to support more local food growing supply-chains. We’re exploring how best to get the help down to all of our activists and see our movement – each of you – thrive and grow.

So much of this at present is on hold, but behind the scenes we continue to get ready to play our part in building kind, confident, connected communities that will be key to adapting with hope to the future.

As I said on the video, what we do is so important and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

We’re in this together for the long-run. Keep safe.