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Supporting a network of Connected Communities in Barnsley

By Sarah Ward

Last week the Incredible Edible UK team joined people from all over Barnsley as they gathered together to build kind, confident, connected communities through the power of food.

The story began a few months ago when Wendy Lowder, one of the Council Directors, made contact with Pam Warhurst, the founder of the Incredible Edible movement. Over 60 people gathered together to hear the story of what Incredible Edible has been doing over the last 10 years. Claire Dawson, who is based in one of the Council Teams in Goldthorpe, co-ordinates the new network, “For us the story Incredible Edible really struck a chord, it is about ordinary people getting together, recognising what is in their hands and making things happen. It is not about the council doing things to or for people but creating spaces for people to do thing for themselves”.

Last week over forty people came together to catch up on the journey so far. They were joined by Andy Austerfield, the Regional Facilitator for Yorkshire and the Humber, who shared his story of Incredible Edible Wakefield, giving some inspiration and tips for the journey.

The new Incredible Edible Barnsley network spent the day together, mapping what was already going on and deciding how they wanted to work together as a borough wide network. As well as sharing the work of three Incredible Edible groups in Penistone, Goldthorpe and Thurnscoe, the Incredible Edible Barnsley network mapped all the work going on around food growing across the area.

Claire said, “By the end of the day we had a clear idea of what was already happening and what we wanted to achieve. We were struck by how much was going on and how food had the chance to be the thing that connected so many people across the borough. As well as finding out what was going on there was a clear message that Incredible Edible Barnsley could play an important role in supporting existing groups to grow and emerging groups to get going, connecting people across local areas to support each other and then bringing those areas together as a borough wide network called Incredible Edible Barnsley.”

The Barnsley Food Partnership has the vision to build a better Barnsley where everyone has the right to access the food they need to thrive and the new Incredible Edible Barnsley will work with the Food Partnership to put food growing on the map as part of that vision.

Sarah Ward from the Incredible Edible Network said, “It is great to see the Local Authority in Barnsley committing time to supporting communities to take control and do things in the place they call home. We are delighted that some of the team from the local authority and NHS in Barnsley will be coming along to the Catalyst Partners event next month to explore the role infrastructure organisations can have in creating space for people to get going with their own incredible journey.”

If you work for a council and would like to discuss how you can support Incredible Edible groups in your area, then contact us, or have a look at our Catalyst Partner programme information.  Or search for your local group here – if there isn’t one, have a look at our 10 Steps to being Incredible to see how to start being Incredible in your own community.