Britain snowed in...

Snowed in Britain...

The recent snow affected most of us in one way or another. Interestingly, I was running a Permaculture Diploma tutor training event on the outskirts of London when much of it fell. I thought the possibility of being snowed in inside the M25 rather ironic, given how much I avoid going there. Mind you, who better to be stranded with than a lovely bunch of permaculture designers? As it happened we all managed to get home that day, though for some of us it was a long journey.

Such episodes highlight once more the vulnerability of our current system’s dependency upon moving so much food around on a ‘just in time’ basis. It’s encouraging then, that an exciting new project showing one way to improve food security in cities just celebrated its first birthday.

‘Food from the Sky’ is a pioneering food growing and educational project in Crouch End, North London. Food is grown organically on the rooftop of Budgens supermarket there & sold in the store just 8 metres below. Now that’s local food ~ grown within walking distance!

Of course, unused roof space is one thing that urban areas have an abundance of. And as well as providing valuable growing space, up above the worst of the pollution, roof gardens also provide vital food & habitats for wildlife too. Additionally, such projects provide a focus for people to meet up, as community gardens like Tatnam Organic Patch in Poole have been proving for a long time now.

Another project looking at the problem of urban food security is the Urbal Fix. This scales the whole thing up to the next level, looking at how the city of Leeds could feed itself by using the green spaces within the city itself. A significant challenge, but one that the author feels can be achieved. This video is the first in a series, making up a 70 minute film, also available on DVD from the author for a few pounds if you’d like a copy.

These are two examples of permaculture thinking; looking for opportunities wherever they exist, both locally & on a bigger scale. Once we learn to do this, we can see abundance all around us. And that’s a nice feeling to have.

So enjoy the winter evenings, thinking about how you are going to improve your food security this coming year. Check out these seed companies for starters:
The Real Seed Catalogue
Tamar Organics
The Organic Gardening Catalogue

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2 Responses to “Did you feel vulnerable?”

  1. gary finch says:

    Hi, thanks for the ref to Tatnam Organic Patch – earlier in the year i was asked to give a talk to the Public Health authorities annual conference on the value of growing healthy food which got me thinking about yields
    “Obtain a yield” is one of the principles we apply when designing. Fresh fruit and veg, enhanced wildlife support, improved soil, energy and water conversation were the obvious and immediate ones to talk about, but then I was able to discuss these,
    Growing skills, seed saving, improved social relationships, confidence growing, food prcessing and cooking skills, social events, community building and governance, planning, appreciation of the seasons, photography, record keeping, tree planting, sowing, harvesting and pruning skills etc etc – all of these applied to us as a group of volunteers, which leads me to consider,
    “Use small & slow solutions” & “Use & value diversity” & “Creatively use & respond to change” all of which are the principles which become more apparant, according to David Holmgren in evolving natural systems – nice when the practice reinforces the theory

  2. Aranya says:

    Yes, I agree Gary… We have this idea that ‘wealth’ is all about earning money & yet the root of that very word is ‘weal’, an old anglo-saxon word meaning health & wellbeing! Having the seeds, skills & know-how to grow, harvest & preserve our own food are just one example of something much more valuable than money, which is only useful while there is food in the shops… I’m very happy to direct people to TOP, as I feel it is an excellent example of what can be done in cities & so much has been learned from the process of making it happen. Great work guys!

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