The Incredible Edible movement started 10 years ago in Todmorden, West Yorkshire with the aim to grow food to share and give access to locally produced food! Under the continued direction of one of its original founders Mary Clear, this project has just celebrated its 10th anniversary, operating with no public funding and no paid staff, demonstrating radical community building in action.
In February 2016, a group of 3 volunteers from a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) organic farm, inspired by this sustainable movement decided to launch Incredible Edible Carmarthenshire.
“Growing projects start conversations about where our food comes from and in this era where food security is critical growing your own is increasingly more important to create resilient communities.”
The group sought support via Renew Wales to develop their constitution. Roxanne Treacy from Renew Wales supported them in these first steps, assisting them to draft and develop a constitution. The constitution helped them formalise their organisation enabling them to apply for a bank account and funding. Since then they have grown from strength to strength, collaborating with community groups, businesses, schools, colleges and local councils to start and support growing projects run completely by volunteers.
“The project has gained success by its volunteers getting stuck in to creating growing spaces from previously unloved public spaces. Community members, intrigued by what we are doing have started joining in, learning about growing their own food and often come back to volunteer to keep the beds looking lovely.”
They now hold regular events such as seed swaps, plant swaps and workshops on sustainable practices to keep up the momentum of this movement in the community. These are all free events and open for anyone to attend. They also support a gardening club and cooking classes, which includes their own food grown in the gardens. In just a year and a half the ripple effect of this movement has been incredible with collaborations with the community as a whole.
To enable these projects, the group have raised their own funds by selling the plants they propagate and have been fortunate to have received lots of donations from businesses, organisations, community groups and individuals. In 2017 they held a conference which propelled them into the public eye and have now been entered for various awards including Britain in Bloom.
As a consequence of the ongoing support from the community towards this movement, Incredible Edible Carmarthenshire was put forward for a Renew Wales award – Best Community Collaboration and won £1,000 of prize money and are entitled to extra Peer Mentoring support.
They have recently been concentrating on maintaining all of their existing projects and growing their volunteer base and committee, as well as connecting all the other growing projects together via social media so that they can help and support each other.
Looking forward, the group intends to grow more and more projects around Carmarthenshire and are trying to raise funds to produce educational signage for their growing beds. They would like to organise trips to other sustainable projects to inspire their volunteers of what is possible and also create a Green Route around Pembrey & Burry Port.
The core team behind this movement are Marie Turke, Kaz Jeffries and Katrina Vincent-Mudge. You can find their latest activity on Facebook here.
Images. Top left: Keith Marshall a volunteer at the Community Shared Garden in Burry Port admiring giant pumpkins. Top right & middle left: Pembrey schoolchildren planned the produce they wanted for their own pizzas and grew it from seed. On the morning of the pizza day the children harvested, washed and prepared the produce – then made their fresh pizzas in the woodfired oven. (They made over 100 pizzas that day!) Middle right: Kaeo Evans grows lots of Asian produce and herbs. Bottom left & right: Pembrey schoolchildren.