Category Archives: Abundance Garden – Actions

Sacred Dance to Reawaken our Truth

With thanks, love and appreciation to David Ashwanden and to all my fellow space-holders.

Many people have written about the various themes which underlie all of human society and culture, regardless of how far back in history you go or how far-flung from each other the societies are.  Among the things which unite us all as humans we have myths and stories (1), transcultural symbols (2) and even intoxicants, which have been used in one form or other by the vast majority of societies in human history (3).

As fundamental as all of these is our need to express ourselves with our bodies, an expression which comes out in dance. Having been following this need as a professional artistic pursuit for the past three years (as well as a social enjoyment activity for much longer!) I decided to take it further by doing some kind of training. But what kind? I am not really interested in learning formal steps or a particular style, but more in the free expression. And there are plenty of dance courses which encourage this out there, from 5 Rhythms (4) to Biodanza (5). Such styles seem interesting, if a little prescriptive, yet I did not feel drawn to actually training in them. Perhaps because as important as the free expression is the recognition that dance is a form of healing, an integral part of human enjoyment and therefore as such can be recognised as a sacred act.

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Dancing as a Sacred Act. Photo by Catherine Brogan.

Maybe it was too much to hope for to find a training which combined all these things: healing, enjoyment and recognition of the sacred. Yet find it I did when I discovered Daisy Kaye’s  5 Element Dance Teacher Training (7) – a training which focuses on using cacao as a key part of the ritual and ceremony in order to enhance the experience. This meant I got the added bonus of being able to practise and expand my love and knowledge of herbalism. Oh, and the course was being held on a tropical island in the Gulf of Thailand. Somehow, it just had to happen.

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Arrival on the island. Photo by David Ashwanden

And it did. And I got out of it a sense of healing and reconnection with my body, renewed enjoyment of dancing, and many more tools for welcoming the sacred into my everyday life, as well as much more knowledge of different medicinal plants from around the world.

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Some of the herbal medicines we were learning about, including, of course, cacao. Photo by David Ashwanden

However, I also got more even than all of this. Because part of what the course helped me and the other participants to gain was a sense of deeper truth. What do I mean by this? Read on to find out…

Dancing Alchemy – Mixing Up the New Human Culture 

Though the course was a teacher training which eventually gave us the tools to run our own ceremonial dance meditations, the first week was simply an introduction to Daisy’s Five Elements dance, which uses a system of symbols to understand the relationships between things in the world, including our bodies. These are used in various ways by different cultures globally, though one of the interesting aspects of Daisy’s style is that she does not focus on one system only. While she is very experienced in and influenced by Chinese medicine, Taoism and Qi Gong, ‘her’ Five Elements are not based exclusively on the Chinese interpretation but also use Ayurvedic, Native American and Daisy’s own ideas.

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Connecting with the Fire element. Photo by David Ashwanden

Indeed, this amalgamation of ideas from different cultures was a recurring theme throughout the course and was one of the most beautiful aspects of it to me. Though much of the actual action we were engaging in can be seen as an ancient practise – breathing and breathwork, gathering together, sitting in circles, sharing herbal intoxicating brews and of course dancing – the fact that Daisy was bringing together traditions from many cultures across the world meant that this course was encouraging the development of an entirely new practise. Importantly, as Daisy puts it, her ideas are not fixed and we are all encouraged to create our own personalised versions. Thus we are engaging not in a rigid system but in the growth of a transglobal new human culture.

Listening to Our Bodies

Five Elements dancing is not just a dance, it is a “manifestational movement meditation” (8). By dancing to clear our minds, we become clear about what it is we actually want. By sharing this with others in a circle we help to crystallise it and make it even clearer. Then we dance through the five elements: grounding with the Earth, flowing with Water, enlivening with Fire, soaring with Air and connecting with Ether. This has the effect not only of helping us to achieve a meditational state but also with helping us connect deeply with our bodies. And when we do this, perhaps surprisingly for some, our bodies usually have some messages for us.

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Listening for the messages. Photo by David Ashwanden

As I’ve quoted before (9),

“We may never have been conscious of our life energy, but our bodies can feel it. We may never have been conscious of our suffering in childhood, but our bodies can remember. We may never have been conscious of the suffering of our parents, but our bodies received it in the womb and carry it. We may never have been conscious of the pollution of the planet but our bodies feel it and manifest the effects…

So if we inhabit our bodies and let them speak to us, we can become aware of transpersonal energy, and in welcoming it, we heal not only ourselves, but our families, our communities and our planet” (Hayes, 2007) (10)

This ‘inhabiting’ is a practise which is often so overlooked in modern culture that it can be a bit of a shock to begin doing it once more. The Five Elements seem a very effective way for helping to tune to what our bodies are telling us, as each element connects us to different emotions, so any emotions which our bodies “remember” can be released. However, we do not dwell on any element in particular, so the emotions can also be let go of.

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Holding space is a key part of helping make a place sacred. It can help to create your own sacred space like this Magic Circle, though the first sacred space to create and recognise is within you. Photo by David Ashwanden

Mind-Truth and Body-Truth

In the circle we are encouraged to speak the truth and part of the art which the course helped me to learn was holding space in a way which facilitates and fosters this. However, sometimes our minds may get in the way of what we’re saying so that even we are not sure if it’s really true.

The dance meditation connecting us to our bodies, encouraging us to be “at home in our bones” brings out a kind of truth which is even deeper, more subtle and perhaps more difficult to define – the truth our bodies and senses are sharing with us. It seems as though once we connect to this the whole way in which we speak takes on a different significance, as well as the way in which we act and move around in our lives.

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Circle Dance. Photo by Tianna.

Because one thing which the course helped with was in making it easier to connect to our  deeper truths – to be honest with ourselves. The radiating effect of this is that it’s less easy to lie about anything in life, whether it’s participating in an activity that you do not really enjoy or agree with, or speaking your mind about something.

Bringing the dance out

In the sacred dancing circle we are all human beings, fresh personalities poised and ready to listen to our guiding desires and to begin the delicious journey of manifesting them.

Outside the circle, we may pick up different characters here and there to help us in our journeys. One of the main teachings of the course for me was being able to tell which of these characters are beneficial to us and which help us to develop healthily in body, mind and spirit. The dancing meditation makes it easy to differentiate – but once we go back into the world, it may also be easy to forget. The fact that the course was on a secluded beach on a tropical island meant that it felt very much like a holiday. Many of the other course participants defined themselves as living double or triple lives and seemed unhappy with the lack of integrity this seemed to be giving them.

Hopefully by the end of the training they were more sure about where their integrity lies, and strong enough to follow it: why leave holiday behind when we can embody it as part of our lifestyle?

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Creation of altars – one way of making a space sacred. Photo by Tianna.

Tune in now

You don’t need to participate in one of Daisy’s courses in order to connect to your deeper truth or help you to make every day sacred, though it has certainly aided me in re-finding my path. There are so many ways to do it: maybe you find it through yoga, qi gong, mindful walking; from practising circus skills or martial arts; by learning about the Tao, the Chinese medicine system or Buddhism, or simply by standing still and focusing on your breath. None of these things are exclusive and the most important thing in practising them is probably your own enjoyment.  Sacred spaces are all around us, and the sacred dance is within us all the time. We can let it out however we like…

Just remember to keep dancing…

Notes

If you are interested in reading more about the course, feel free to check out my fellow participant Debbie Bird’s experiences here: Bird is Travelling.

References

  1. Campbell, J, 1949. The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Pantheon Books: New York City
  2. Corbett, L, 2012. Psyche and the Sacred: Spirituality beyond Religion. Spring Journal Books: New Orleans
  3. Walton, S, 2003. Out of It: A Cultural History of Intoxication. Three Rivers Press: New York City
  4. 5 Rhythms, 2016. ‘Who We Are’. https://www.5rhythms.com/who-we-are/
  5. The Art of Biodanza, 2016. ‘About Biodanza’. http://theartofbiodanza.com/origins-of-biodanza/
  6. Daisy Kaye, 2016. ‘Live a Holiday Lifestyle’. http://www.liveaholidaylifestyle.com/
  7. The Sanctuary Thailand, 2016. ‘Sacred Cacao 5 Element Dance Teacher Training’. http://www.thesanctuarythailand.com/sacred-cacao-5-element-dance-ceremonies-teacher-training-with-daisy-kaye.html
  8. Daisy Kaye, 2016.
  9. Haworth, C, 2016. David Bowie: Helping us Dance to Heal. Abundance Garden, 4/2/16. https://abundancedancegarden.wordpress.com/2016/02/04/david-bowie-helping-us-to-dance-to-heal/
  10. Hayes, J, 2007. Performing the Dreams of Your Body: Plays of Animation and Compassion. Archive Publishing: Chichester

Report from Inside the People’s March – the Juicy Details

On the evening of last week’s Conference of the Parties  international climate change conference (COP21) (1), people joined together all over the world to show what we can do and to start doing it…

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Gathering of the Food Warriors – A Formidable Scene. The apples shown here are less than half of what was intercepted. Photo by Feedback.

I’m not afraid of anything that’s blocking me/ I’m not afraid of human force”(2)
Even in Paris, where public demonstrations were banned in the days preceding the conference under the ambiguous reason of “security concerns”, more than 10,000 activists managed to make a human chain in a peaceful manifestation (3). However, London’s March was even more demonstrative of our potentiality to create positive change; as we were not demanding anything from anybody, simply showing what we have got.

 

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Many groups were represented at the march, from pandas and clownfish…

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To coral reefs…

This was the overwhelming sentiment I got from last month’s People’s March – by the people, for the people. Government “leaders” may have been getting high on the sound of their own voices in Paris, but one thing the March clearly demonstrated was the huge variety of initiatives which are aiding the process of positive societal change, all of which are already functioning in the UK and beyond.

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This “hippy” could be recognised by hir placard. Photo by Charlotte Haworth

Free (no price) and Free (liberated)

My role at the March was very particular: as an “exotic waste warrior”, I was showing what I got!

What did I got? Apples! Around 2500 of them,  rejected by supermarkets due to “cosmetic standards”, but thanks to the Gleaning Network (4) and This Is Rubbish(5), were intercepted and gifted as sustenance to anyone who came within a hundred feet of us.

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Apples for All! Photo by Feedback.

2500 at first seemed quite overwhelming, but in fact they all went amazingly quickly. We began handing out the apples around 11.30am and by the time the March actually began moving around 1.30pm we had only a couple of handfuls left. Such speed of redistribution shows that redirecting abundance can be very simple and easy; especially if we bring the surplus food to a place where there are many hungry people already gathering.

If you eat, you’re in

One key reason to be handing out apples on a march focused on climate change (other than their clear high value in both taste and symbology) is to highlight the impact which food waste has on the environment. Since we currently throw away around 30 – 50% of our food on a global scale even before it gets to a consumer (6), this equates to food waste, if it was a country, being the third largest producer of carbon emissions in the world, after only the USA and China (7).

If you are not a citizen of the USA or China you may think there is not much you can do about the first two, though it may be worthwhile considering where you buy your products from. There is a lot you can directly do about number 3, if you ever indulge in the pastime of eating.

You do? Then read on, as the solutions are delicious!

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Enjoying some of the delicious solutions as we handed out the fruit. Photo by Charlotte Haworth

Some tasty ideas

For starters we have harvesting rescuers The Gleaning Network (4) who intercept fruit and vegetables from the fields which would otherwise have gone to waste, and Abundance (8), who map wild fruit trees for DIY harvesting. Then there is national network Fareshare (9) who redistribute supermarket surplus to charities and community groups, and more local versions of this such as Community Food Enterprises (10) in London and the Food Waste Collective (11) in Brighton.

This is Rubbish uses intercepted supermarket fruit and vegetables in tantalising and creative ways to entice and inspire you to do more about saving food.

These groups are doing fantastic work to bring the surplus abundance which already exists to people who are hungry. Yet all are working on the idea that, once the root of the waste is addresd, ideally they would no longer need to exist.

We can all help with this simply by changing our shopping habits. One very easy step is to only buy food produced in your country of residence; as it has had to travel a lot less far and so is less likely to produce carbon emissions or for unnecessary amounts to be thrown away.

Another is to check out This is Rubbish’s new campaign Stop the Rot (12), which is aiming to reduce food waste throughout the UK supply chain.

Enough to whet your appetite? You don’t have to stop here… Food is an issue which affects us all, and eating can always feel good. How do you relate to your food? How can you use this to create a healthier, more energy efficient food system?

The only limit here is your imagination…

References

1. Cop21, 2015. ‘COP21’. http://www.cop21paris.org/
2. Dubioza Kolektiv, 2006. ‘Justce’. Lyrics by Dubioza kolektiv. https://www.gugalyrics.com/lyrics-403779/dubioza-kolektiv-justice.html
3. Ecowatch, 2015. ‘10,000 form human chain in Paris demanding that world leaders keep fossil fuels in the ground’. Ecowatch, 29/11/15. http://ecowatch.com/2015/11/29/human-chain-paris/
4. Feedback Global, 2015. The Gleaning Network’. http://www.thisisrubbish.org.uk/
5. This is Rubbish, 2015. ‘About TiR’. http://www.thisisrubbish.org.uk/
6. Institute of Mechanical Engineers, 2013. ‘Waste Not Want Not’. Imeche: London. Available as a PDF here: http://www.imeche.org/docs/default-source/reports/Global_Food_Report.pdf?sfvrsn=0
7. European Commission JOint Research Centre, 2015. CO2 time series 1990-2013 per capita for world countries. http://edgar.jrc.ec.europa.eu/overview.php?v=CO2ts_pc1990-2013
8. Abundance, 2015. ‘About Us’. http://www.abundancenetwork.org.uk/about-us
9. Fareshare, 2015. ‘About Us’. http://www.fareshare.org.uk/about-us/
10. CFE, 2015. ‘About Us’. http://www.c-f-e.org.uk/About%20CFE.htm
11. HASL, 2015. ‘Food Waste’. http://www.hasl.org.uk/food-waste.html
12. This is Rubbish, 2015. ‘Stop the Rot’. http://www.thisisrubbish.org.uk/project/stoptherot/

Gathering for Delicious Solutions – Join the People’s Party!

As the drizzle continues to spatter fitfully on the pavements, the grey sky reflecting from grey windows; the bare branches of the trees in Hyde Park waving in a rather dismal fashion, you would not necessarily expect that today London will see a hugely important gathering- a gathering to show that we as citizens of the world are willing to work together to protect and respect it. The gathering is a mirror of many others in cities throughout the globe, with the semi-focus (or excuse for a demonstration?) being Paris, the site of the 21st Conference of the Parties (1) – the largest international climate conference in the world.

Every year the ‘leaders’ of our countries meet at the Conference of the Parties, and every year numerous events are organised to show people’s opinion on the issues involved. The name of the demonstration in London today is the ‘People’s March for Climate, Justice and Jobs’ (2) and it will incorporate a hugely diverse section of British and international society, from Interfaith (3) to Frack Free (4), and with representation from all major UK political parties with the probably unsurprising exception of the Conservatives (5). Such variety is a fantastic opportunity to “showcase the breadth, diversity and creativity of the climate movement” (5).

Such showcasing is especially important in the wake of the French government’s somewhat counterintuitive decision to ban the planned sister demonstrations in Paris, under the pretext of “security concerns” (6). Though perhaps understandable, one plain message the ban seems to be sending is that the government does not want to listen to the people (7). Never mind. We can listen to each other…

I will be participating as part of the Food and Agriculture bloc with This is Rubbish (8), the Gleaning Network (9) and many others, and as part of my continuing efforts to turn around all previous perceptions of waste into ones of abundance, shall be merrily distributing intercepted apples to hungry gatherers along the way. As well as fruity treats we are planning to be marching with a ‘funky bluegrass band’; so even if you have never had any previous interest in the related issues, why not come along for a munch and a stomp?

The march starts at 1pm today, with the meeting point on Park Lane (nearest tube: Hyde Park Corner)(5). See you there!

References

  1. UNFCCC, 2015. ‘COP: What’s it all about?’ http://www.cop21paris.org/about/cop21 – retrieved 29/11/15
  2. Climate Justice Jobs, 2015. ‘About’. http://climatejusticejobs.org.uk/about/– retrieved 29/11/15
  3. World Jewish Relief, 2015. ‘Interfaith Event – People’s March’. Facebook, 29/11/15. https://www.facebook.com/events/1654130218200826/– retrieved 29/11/15
  4. People’s Climate March, 2015. ‘Frack Free Bloc @ the March’. Facebook, 29/1/15. https://www.facebook.com/events/907641779291656/– retrieved 29/11/15
  5. Climate Justice Jobs, 2015. ‘Blocs on the March’. http://climatejusticejobs.org.uk/blocs-on-the-march/– retrieved 29/11/15
  6. Prupis, N, 2015. ‘France Cancels Major Climate March, Groups Say they won’t be silenced’. Ecowatch, 19/11/15. http://ecowatch.com/2015/11/19/france-cancels-climate-march/– retrieved 29/11/15- retrieved 29/11/15
  7. Queally, J, 2015. ‘Groups Demand French President Lift Ban on Climate Proetsts and Marches’. Ecowatch, 27/11/15. http://ecowatch.com/2015/11/27/cop21-lift-ban-marches/ – retrieved 29/11/15
  8. This is Rubbish, 2015. ‘About TiR’. http://www.thisisrubbish.org.uk/– retrieved 29/11/15
  9. Feedback Global, 2015. ‘Gleaning Network’. http://feedbackglobal.org/campaigns/gleaning-network/ – retrieved 29/11/15

 

 

Exotic Excess at the Harvest Stomp

All photos by Alan Husband.

The Exotic Excess Cafe. Photo by Alan Husband.

The Exotic Excess Cafe. Photo by Alan Husband.

The poet William Blake said “the thankful receiver bears a plentiful harvest” (1). If he was right, then the visitors to the Exotic Excess Café at Groundwork (2)’s Harvest Stomp Festival (3) this Autumn Equinox are now very well provisioned. The Café, run by community interest group This is Rubbish (TiR) (4), was perhaps inaptly named as we were not selling anything but giving away huge amounts of surplus fruit and vegetables. As the autumn sun shone down on the tightly trimmed grass of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford, London, we could hardly move for interested and thankful visitors and happy festival-goers.

Thankful receivers bearing our plentiful harvest. Photo by Alan Husband.

Thankful receivers bearing our plentiful harvest. Photo by Alan Husband.

A Modern Harvest

The festival had many diverse stalls, from bee-keeping demonstrations with honey harvests to vegetable competitions for home-grown harvests. At the Exotic Excess café, however, we were focussing on a slightly different kind of harvest. As an estimated 36% of the food purchased in the UK goes to waste before it even reaches the consumer (5), there is a huge potential to intercept this and re-direct it to people who need food. As I have already explored through my work with the Gleaning Network (6) and the Food Waste Collective (7), there are a number of different strategies already operative in the UK for how to do this.

A key aspect of any food redistribution work is (unsurprisingly) sourcing the food and then finding hungry people to give it to. Perhaps of equal importance is the way in which we perceive and react to our food. If we show appreciation and thankfulness we are probably more likely to give value to the stuff we eat and see it as a worthy substance that should be used carefully and responsibly, rather than as a commodity. One fantastic way of doing this is to have a celebration! So that’s exactly what we did…

Talking about the Food

As we currently produce around enough food in the world to feed 12bn people (7). This coupled with the estimated 30 – 50% of food which is wasted annually on a global scale (9) shows starkly that food scarcity is an illusion and better organisation of food systems is necessary.

However, if we confront people with only facts such as those stated above, there is a chance of creating feelings of anger and/or helplessness. We prefer to inspire – which is why we have Exotic Hostesses serving up intercepted food on silver trays, and encourage communal eating in shared appreciation with a finale of a giant Salad Toss – where we entice members of the public to aid in creating a salad so large it has to be tossed in a tarpaulin.

Preparing Fruity Sticks, and for the Great Salad. Photo by Alan Husband.

Preparing Fruity Sticks, and for the Great Salad. Photo by Alan Husband.

Fruity Sticks and Salad Tosses

When I participated in the Exotic Excess Café last July at the Waterloo Food Festival (10) the predominant food stuffs we had intercepted was bananas, apples, peaches, grapes, oranges…In other words, fruit, fruit and more fruit. This year, we had many more vegetables to redistribute, including numerous packets of rocket and crates of lettuce, as well as carrots, courgettes and peppers. Thus the Salad was a savoury one, but we still had many many fruits to distribute, which we did in the form of make-your-own Fruity Sticks (a hit with the younger visitors) as well as inviting passersby to collect from our “shop” – actually, freely available produce for anyone to take and consume.

Who Could Resist? Photo by Alan Husband.

Who Could Resist? Photo by Alan Husband.

A Glimpse of Abundance. Photo by Alan Husband.

A Glimpse of Abundance. Photo by Alan Husband.

Excess to no Excess

At many food surplus events I have worked at, we have excess food at the end which it is a puzzle what to know to do with. I still have some kilograms of dried corn left from last September’s sweetcorn glean (11), waiting to be polenta-ed; and we were definitely far from taking all of the corn which was going to waste on that day.

However, the vibrant volunteers, along with the warmth of the day and the irresistibility of taking free food (especially when it’s been sprinkled with edible glitter) meant that the event was a great success. Once the festival-goers had got over any confusion or even suspicion about why we were not asking for money, most took to the idea with pleasure. So when we began gathering people for the grand finale, the Great Salad Toss, we ended up with quite a crowd of about twenty to take on the noble role of holding the tarpaulin while the salad ingredients were poured in.

Helping the Sultan to entice people to give a toss. Photo by Alan Husband.

Helping the Sultan to entice people to give a toss. Photo by Alan Husband.

Salad tossing can be a tricky business, and with such a giant salad it has to be seen as a precise art. Luckily we had This is Rubbish’s Sultan overseeing affairs, and the tossing went smoothly with much enjoyment from the crowd.

A perfect toss. Photo by Alan Husband.

A perfect toss. Photo by Alan Husband.

What’s Next?

All feedback I received on the day was positive, and we collected many ‘food waste pledges’ from people inspired to take personal, practical steps towards reducing food waste in their own lives. There will probably be more Exotic Excess Cafés to follow – check out the TiR website (4) for more information – yet ideally, we shouldn’t have to run such events at all, if we all begin using food in a responsible and respectful way.

To this end TiR have many other projects including the brand newly launched ‘Stop the Rot’ (12) campaign, aimed at influencing government and industry to introduce new ways of dealing with food which will reduce the amount of waste in the UK. In order to be effective the campaign needs as much publicity from the British public as possible, so feel free to spread the word. Even if you do not feel you wish to place your energy into national politics, remember that all government action is ultimately decided by what the citizens of a country do – or don’t do.

All change begins at a personal level, and in this time of harvest it is worth noting the abundance around us and perhaps changing our perceptions to envision and act towards a more fruitful future.

References

  1. Blake, W, 1790 -93. The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. Bodleian Library: Oxford (Re-printed 2011).
  2. Groundwork, 2015. ‘About Us’. http://www.groundwork.org.uk/Pages/Category/about-us-uk – retrieved 2/10/15
  3. Groundwork London, 2015. ‘The Harvest Stomp’, Project Dirt Events. http://www.projectdirt.com/apps/event/37931/– retrieved 2/10/15
  4. This is Rubbish, 2015. ‘About’. http://www.thisisrubbish.org.uk/ – retrieved 2/10/15
  5. WRAP, 2015. Estimates of Food and Packaging Waste in the UK Grocery Retail and Hospitality Supply Chains. http://www.wrap.org.uk/sites/files/wrap/UK%20Estimates%20February%2015%20%28FINAL%29.pdf – retrieved 2/10/15
  6. Feedback Global UK, 2015. Gleaning Network. http://feedbackglobal.org/campaigns/gleaning-network/– retrieved 2/10/15
  7. Hanover Action for Sustainable Living, 2015. ‘The Food Waste Collective’. http://www.hasl.org.uk/food-waste.html – retrieved 2/10/15
  8. De Schutter, O, 2013. ‘Report on Right to Food’. United Nations General Assembly: Geneva
  9. Institute of Mechanical Engineers 2010. ‘Waste Not Want Not’. IMechE: London. Available as a PDF here: http://www.imeche.org/docs/default-source/reports/Global_Food_Report.pdf?sfvrsn=0 – retrieved 10/9/15
  10. This is Rubbish, 2015. ‘Exotic Excess, Lower Marsh Market, Waterloo’. http://www.thisisrubbish.org.uk/event/july-2014-exotic-excess-lower-marsh-market-waterloo/ – retrieved 2/10/15
  11. Haworth, C, 2014. ‘Gleaning First-Hand’. Abundance Garden, 3/11/14. https://abundancedancegarden.wordpress.com/2014/11/03/gleaning-first-hand/ – retrieved 2/10/15
  12. This is Rubbish, 2015. ‘Stop the Rot’. http://www.thisisrubbish.org.uk/project/stoptherot/– retrieved 2/10/15

Notes

All photos by Alan Husband. Want to see more of the day? His Flickr album is here: Harvest Stomp on flickr.

Kosmicare: Cosmic Care at Festivals helping to create positive societal change – Part 2

When we have clear ideas of what the symbols which appear to us – whether in folk myth, dream or chemically-induced vision – can represent, we are better equipped to understand our own role in the great narrative of our life. However, if we have not had such training as that given to a tribe which values shared metaphors and symbols, we can be

“left alone with our unpredictable emotions and the sometimes terrifying visions of the collective unconscious” (1); in what is termed by some as a ‘bad trip’.

Tripping through the Dark…

If we have not been brought up with a conscious defining mythology such as that of the Wixaritari (see for example 2), that is not to say that we are in any disadvantage. As Campbell (1959) (3) puts it, we have to be aware of what our own stories mean, and can even be a part of creating our own new symbols which are unique to us.

Such symbols may be all the more potent if we have undergone some kind of journey in order to discover them. An important part of Kosmicare UK’s work is the recognition that whatever is happening in someone’s mind, there is probably a good reason for it, even if the person is not having the most comfortable time. As it says on their website,

“We think that if someone is having a “bad trip” it is because he/she is really in need of it.  They may be confronting their own fears, and there is potential to benefit from it. Therefore, we do not work with denial or try to make people come back to “normal” but, embracing the moment, we provide support for the individual to come through the ordeal more wholesome and wise.” (1)

Into the Light

For Kosmicare,

“An important step to take is to acknowledge that in gatherings and festivals people are pushing boundaries, and it is here that we need to give support.” (1)

One inspirational aspect of being part of the Kosmicare UK team at Goa Cream, a festival designed to promote Kosmicare, was to see so many festival-goers who are already prepared to give support to each other, and who recognise the benefits of their work even if they have not been personally cared for at the Kosmicare area. Such support is also inspirational in terms of considering the wider reach which Kosmicare, or similar initiatives, could have.

As well as one-to-one support for those already in drug-related experiences, Kosmicare provides non-judgmental information on, and in some cases testing facilities for, all kinds of mind-altering substances. When pushing boundaries by using these, one can be catapulted through a psychological exploration which, though it may feel like a number of millennia, lasts on our timescale only around 6-12 hours. This is why it is so important for Kosmicare to be present at festivals and parties, as such experiences can give you little or no preparation for what could be in store, and the mental effects are so quick and strong that occasionally they can be a handful.

However, people are having more sustained psychological explorations all the time, which have been variously described as ‘voice hearing’, ‘schizophrenia’, ‘psychosis’, or a host of other labels, for which British and other “Western” societies do not necessarily provide adequate facilities.

It could be argued that someone who is experiencing what modern Western medicine could term as psychosis, delusions, schizoid or paranoid behaviour is going through a similar kind of ‘bad trip’ as that which can be induced by entheogenic substances, though the trip generally takes a lot longer than 12 hours. The general response in “Western” society is to place such individuals in the mental healthcare system where medical staff attempt to make them “better” or fit in with society again. While such a response may have benefits for some individuals, it could be important to note that “mental illness” as defined in “Western” society is seen by most shamanic cultures as “the birth of a healer” and those experiencing it are seen as undergoing a necessary stage in their journey towards becoming, if they wish to accept the role, an important community facilitator and healer (4) (5).

Healing Options

If such perceptions of mental illness can help individuals in ways in which the western system falls short, such as with the case of Franklin Russell, hospitalised at 17 as a “schizophrenic” in the USA but hailed as one of the “mediums bringing messages to the community from the spirit world” in West Africa (6), then perhaps we need options other than mental hospitals in which to support them. One such option could be an extended version of Kosmicare; where the spaces are in one fixed place within the community and where support can be found not only for a few days at a time, but all year round, and with a much longer time limit on how long one can be in the space.

Such a static healing space should not replace Kosmicare, but rather work alongside it, as the focus is on slightly differing, though interlinked, psychological experiences. The space, I feel, would have to be centred in a natural environment; even if set up to serve a city community it should be on the outskirts of said city, in a place where there is less psychic noise than can be found among the busy city streets.

As such, it can be seen as a kind of ‘Healing Forest’, or whatever natural phenomena is seen as important by a particular community. So those who dwell near a river may prefer to go to a ‘Healing Valley’ whilst those who live in high altitudes may prefer a ‘Healing Mountain’. It is important to connect the landscape to the community as then those going there to undergo their difficult experiences will be able to relate more to it. Sacred space appears to be a key part of all human culture, whether we have a religion or not, as I explore in my ‘Sacred Spaces’ article (7).

Another important reason for having the space in nature is that those who live there permanently as supporters for people in need of care will have to be grounded in non-human nature as well as deeply understanding of human psychology; as David Abram eloquently puts it,

“the primary role of the indigenous shaman [is] a role that cannot be fulfilled without long and sustained exposure to wild nature, to its patterns and vicissitudes.” (8)

Modern Shamans?

Those who work in such a place as may be created as the Healing Forest, Valley, Mountain or others may have some professional similarities with shamans of traditional societies, though they perhaps prefer not to be called shamans themselves. For although this idea of a static Kosmicare available in every town and community is not so different from the traditional role of shamans in indigenous tribal cultures, the fact that we have our own, literate, abstracted, diversified, flexible and, to a huge extent, highly individualised cultures means that such an endeavour will be not simply an emulation of older societies but the creation of a new cultural paradigm.

Grand words, perhaps; though in reality the adventure will be quite simple. All that is needed is a few willing people, a corner of land and some imagination.

In the meantime, Kosmicare UK will continue creating spaces at festivals throughout the country, beginning in the spring of 2016. Even if you are not experiencing psychological or drug-related difficulties, look out for us! You may well find some positive surprises.

References

  1. Kosmicare UK, 2015. ‘About Us’. http://www.kosmicareuk.org/about-us/
  2. Alfredo López Austin : Tamoanchan, Tlalocan. U Pr of Co, 1997.
  3. Campbell, J, 1949. The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Pantheon: New York City
  4. Halifax, J, 1988. Shaman: The Wounded Healer. Thames & Hudson: London
  5. Marohn, S and Somé, M.P, 2014. ‘What a Shaman sees in a Mental Hospital’. Waking Times, 22/8/2014. http://www.wakingtimes.com/2014/08/22/shaman-sees-mental-hospital/
  6. Russell, D, 2014. ‘How a West African Shaman Helped my Schizophrenic Son in a way Western Medicine Couldn’t’. Washington Post, 24/3/14. https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2015/03/24/how-a-west-african-shaman-helped-my-schizophrenic-son-in-a-way-western-medicine-couldnt/
  7. Haworth, C, 2015. ‘Sacred Spaces’. Abundance Garden, 3/3/15. https://abundancedancegarden.wordpress.com/2015/03/03/sacred-spaces/
  8. Abram, D, 1996. The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-Than-Human World. Vintage Books: New York City

Kosmicare: Cosmic Care at Festivals helping to create positive societal change – Part 1

Last weekend we witnessed a highly significant event as the shadow of our planet passed over the Moon. This as a visible phenomenon is impressive enough without having any idea what it could mean; but theories also abound about the significance of the Lunar Eclipse with regards to human psychology. One such theory (1) is that it is evocative of psychologist Carl Jung’s idea of the “shadow self” (2). Perhaps it is no coincidence, then, that last weekend also saw the manifestation of Goa Cream Festival, the first event held to raise funds entirely for Kosmicare UK (3), a voluntary organisation devoted to helping people at festivals who are experiencing psychological difficulties. As may be imagined, this involves a huge diversity of activity, much of which can arguably be applied not only in the context of a festival but in society at large as well.

What is Kosmicare?

Kosmicare UK is a group providing welfare for those at festivals who may be experiencing psychological difficulties, or who are feeling lost, uncomfortable or unhappy. The group is specifically set up to “focus on support for people having difficult drug related experiences and work alongside traditional first aid providers to relieve strain by providing specialised care” (3); as there are a huge range of situations involving drugs where the user may require care and attention, yet to only give them medical attention may miss out on treating their true need, as well as placing unnecessary work on medically trained professionals who are better equipped to deal with physical or straightforward mental symptoms. Modelled on Kosmicare, the pioneer project set up at Boom Festival in 2002 (4), the organisation works closely with the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Substances (MAPS) (5) as well as many other individuals from medical, artistic and academic backgrounds (3).

Psychedelic First Aid

The type of help provided by Kosmicare is difficult to put into words, as the welfare comes not only from the volunteers but from the spaces which Kosmicare create at festivals, and from the atmosphere encouraged. There is usually a large bell tent, decorated in a peaceful manner, full of cushions, duvets and blankets and kept as a quiet and contemplative space for those in need of it. As well as this there is a less quiet but just as comfortable space for more conversational relaxation. Then there is the fire encircled with seats, which is kept burning throughout the hours of darkness, every night of the festival. This last space was especially important at Goa Cream, held as it was in the last week of September in the Worcestershire hills.

Space
The spaces created by Kosmicare are important not only as physical places but as components of the atmosphere engendered by them. Kosmicare is at its heart a “tribe”; the volunteers generally sleep close to or in the Kosmicare area, cook and eat together, and provide support for each other as well as the personal support given to each visitor to Kosmicare. Festivals are designed for people to have fun and all Kosmicare volunteers I have met understand that we are here to have a good time; though we have allocated shifts, caring never feels like work, and carers who are not on shift regularly hang around the area as the atmosphere is so friendly.

This tribal, familiar attitude is reflected in the open-minded and welcoming nature of the volunteers and in the acceptance that whatever substance someone has ingested, and whatever kind of time they may be having, there can still be an opportunity for personal growth and positivity. This can be seen as especially important with any kind of entheogens, which as the Kosmicare website puts it,
“have played a pivotal role in the spiritual practices of ancient cultures for millennia, and historically were taken in a tribal context with the support of the tribe and a shaman.” (3)

Though such experiences may be terrifying at times, the support element means that whatever happens during the ritual or trip, there are experienced people around who can help to some extent.

Symbols and Symptons

Ritual tribal practises have what could be seen as an added safety element in that they generally involve metaphors and significant stories which are familiar to all in the tribe and whose meanings have both been thoroughly explored and are not taken literally. For example, the peyote rituals of the Wixaritari people involve a carefully ritualised pilgrimage to the place where the peyote cactus grows, during which the participants take on roles of specific significant deities and pass a number of sacred spaces (6).

Such attention to and sacralising of the natural non-human environment, as well as metaphors to explain or narrate human events, are common throughout human history and have been remarked upon by many scholars as involving the same symbols regardless of where or when the culture may be creating them – for more on this see for example Campbell (1949) (7) and Abram (1986) (8). The interesting thing about this similarity in themes and metaphors is that even if individuals in a culture do not have defining metaphors of their own, their psychology will spontaneously produce them (7); prompting Jung to term our shared ideas of symbols as the “collective unconscious” (9).

How can we deal with such symbols in as useful and mutually beneficial a way as possible? For some ideas, keep checking this blog for Part 2!

References
1.    Astrostyle, 2015. ‘Solar and Lunar Eclipses’. http://astrostyle.com/learn-astrology/solar-and-lunar-eclipses/
2.   Jung, C.G. (1938). “Psychology and Religion.” In CW 11: Psychology and Religion: West and East. P.131
3.  Kosmicare UK, 2015. ‘About Us’. http://www.kosmicareuk.org/about-us/
4.  Boom Festival, 2014. ‘Kosmicare’. http://www.boomfestival.org/boom2014/boomguide/kosmicare/
5.  MAPS, 2015. ‘Mission’. https://www.maps.org/about/mission
6.  Alfredo López Austin : Tamoanchan, Tlalocan. U Pr of Co, 1997.
7.    Campbell, J, 1949. The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Pantheon: New York City
8.    Abram, D, 1996. The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-Than-Human World. Vintage Books: New York City
9.   Jung, C, 1953. Collected Works vol. 7, “The Structure of the Unconscious” (1916), 437–507. (pp. 263–292).

ORFC: Looking Back and Ahead

This month’s Oxford Real Farming Conference (1) managed to bring together so many different groups and ideas that, at least for me, it is all still taking some time to take it all in. The Conference has sparked many vital conversations which are already crystallising into actions, and inspired in various ways.

The Conference - helping people connect like mycelium spreading...Photo by Charlotte Haworth

The Conference – helping people connect like mycelium spreading…Photo by Charlotte Haworth

What is ‘Real’?

One of the most interesting aspects of the Conference for me was the whole idea of ‘Real Farming’: easily something which could possibly lead into some far-out existential questions, if those attending the event were not so down to earth. The Conference was originally organised in part as an ‘alternative’ to the Oxford farming Conference, held at the same time and even on the same street, though from the beginning the organisers, Graham Harvey (now of Pasture Promise TV) (2), Colin Tudge and Ruth West (founders of Campaign for Real Farming) (3) have made it clear that the event is about practical solutions; “to ask what the world really needs, and what’s possible, and to show what really can be done” (1).

Over the course of the two days many different questions were posed about just what we are providing an alternative to; or even if the Conference could now be seen as such. Who is it who sees ‘conventional’ or ‘normal’ farming as that which involves high-external-input of fossil fuels and agrochemicals; stripping the earth of nutrients and farmers of stability and connection to the land; creating huge wasteful chains of logistics which end up with up to 50% of all food grown being thrown away before it even reaches the shops (4)? As mentioned previously, the UN has recognised that these systems are unsustainable and need to be changed (5); a widely-reported scientific study last year by Dr Jill Edmondson and Professor Nigel Dunnett claims that UK soils have only “100 harvests left” before the soils are so stripped of nutrients that they can no longer support agriculture (6); and partly in recognition of this, the Food and Agriculture Organisation has declared 2015 as the ‘International Year of Soils’ (7) to try to raise awareness of the importance of creating new faring methods.

These are not exactly isolated or niche recognition of the fact that farming can be so much more sustainable than it is. Yet during the Conference, Ben Raskin of the Soil Association commented that in a discussion he was present in the House of Lords recently, someone commented that the UK Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) “aren’t interested in agriculture” (8).

Er…What?

If agriculture is not of interest to the Department responsible for the environment and food, on which agriculture has a fairly large impact, and of rural affairs, of which agriculture is a part of more or less by definition, it does seem to beg the question of what (if anything) the British government thinks will provide our food in future. Musing on this is probably a futile exercise, however, and it is much more useful to look to where support for real farming is present. One thing which provided another clue as to the more mainstream leaning of the Conference was the venue itself which was the splendidly opulent “venetian palace”, as one delegate called it, which is Oxford Town Hall. So even if central government has no interest in agriculture, it is clear that at least one local government does.

I have to admit it was rather surreal wandering around the carven, fluted halls of the building, passing groups of muddy-booted delegates who were partially obscuring the huge glass cases of official memorabilia, including a giant, golden (not sure if it was real solid gold) mayoral mace. In many ways it was rather fitting that many of the discussions held in the Assembly Room which touched upon the idea that the land is being unnecessarily damaged at the cost of our own health that of the planet were overlooked by a rather sombre, if not downright disturbing, oil painting of the Rape of the Sabines. Possibly more disturbing was the display case proudly exhibiting a ceremonial painted truncheon. I am grateful to Oxford City Council for hosting the Conference, and feel they have a right to do what they like with their building, but cannot help feeling that the citizens of a town which showcases an object whose only purpose is to instil pain and intimidation may need to question their symbols somewhat.

Incongruence makes Wholeness?

Such incongruences were, in a way, present throughout the whole Conference: a sign that healthy debate was going on, as I rarely heard anyone claim to have the whole answer or solution. Indeed, quite the opposite: during one discussion, with the panel from the Square Meal Report (9) when a man commented that the only thing we have to do is “buy organic food and tell everyone else to do the same”, all members of the panel gently deflected this dogmatic approach, with comments such as Mike Clarke, CEO of the RSPB (10) who pointed out that it is better to “keep an open mind” and think about “what do we collectively need to achieve together?”

These sentiments were echoed by many over the two days. Rachel Harries of the Soil Association (11) was chairing a session, ‘Local Authorities and Access to Land’, which went over all of the different ways in which one can go about reclaiming disused land in a legal manner, and showcased two community groups, Organiclea (12) and Sutton Community Farm (13), who have done just this. During the session we learned that as part of UK law all citizens have the right to “reclaim land” which is unused, disused or vacant, by applying to the Secretary of State to do so (14).

Such illuminations (I had not heard of this right before) help to eradicate the idea of “us and them” which, as pointed out by the fact that we were being hosted by the Council, was already rather hazy. It was made clear that though we cannot simply write off local authorities as unhelpful organisations, since they are, after all, made up of people too, it can happen that these people sometimes get “adversarial” when it comes to the crucial question of land. With statistics like the fact that 70% of the land in the UK is owned by just 1% of the population (15), it becomes clear that the more people who are trying to find different ways around these the better.

Coming Together

The Landworkers’ Alliance (16) were present in one room for the whole two days, as part of the ‘New Generation, New Ideas’ strand (17) of the Conference. However, their influence did not stop in the town hall: they also organised a folk concert and ceilidh at the Jam Factory bar (18) on the evening of the first night of the conference. Though this may seem like a small part of the proceedings, for me it represented a significant point. Most people present at the conference are in some way involved in practical projects and though there were many academics I got the feeling that the majority (including myself!) found spending hours and hours sitting, listening and talking a slight strain. The ceilidh provided a space to release some tension and engage in communication which is after all of a deeper kind; that of dancing around with a roomful of total strangers. This energy could even be seen to be carried on into the Conference on the following day. I noticed that, in comparison with the talks I had attended the day before, all the talks on the Wednesday involved more free-flowing conversation, and people seemed more confident with each other and inclined to speak their minds. This could be simply that we had got to know each other by talking; but I feel the dancing was also a big part of it.

Springing up from the Ground

Much of the conference revolved around practical techniques you can engage in if you are already growing, such as seed saving from Ben Raskin, and Kate McEvoy from Real Seeds (19) and soil care from Dr Elaine Ingham of the Soil Food Web (20), and how to influence policy change from and the Landworkers’ Alliance (16) and others. One of the most interesting sessions for me, as a landless landworker, however, was one organised by the newly set-up Groundspring Network (21), the “entrant-level wing” of the Landworkers’ Alliance, designed to help those who wish to begin growing by supporting them and sharing ideas, methods and forums (21). The session focussed on the “rural-urban divide” in the UK which can be seen as putting off existing farmers from changing, and those wishing to get involved in farming to make the jump; when only 3% of farmers here are under the age of 35 (20), addressing the factors surrounding this seem pretty important.

The Groundspring Network are helping people to start growing, as well as linking novices with farmers who can act as ‘mentors’, and providing forums and spaces for new growers to share their experiences. The network is not the only one of its kind; there are many other such organisations in the UK and worldwide designed to help ‘bridge the gap’ between what is often seen as ‘farming’ rural and ‘non-farming’ urban; such as the Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens (22), Farmstart (23) (24) and Reclaim the Fields (25). One new (to the UK) forum being set up is Farmhack (26), already successful in the USA and Canada and which will be officially launched in this country on the weekend of 18 and 19 April (27), with practical workshops, shared food, and fine entertainment: since the event is organised by the Landworkers’ Alliance there will, of course, be a ceilidh, and Topspin Circus (28) shall be contributing mesmeric fire-spinning.

The Importance of Group activities

One of the most exciting things the Conference represented was a networking opportunity for people from a huge diversity of different perspectives: organic, biodynamic, permaculture, ‘pasture power’, low-carbon farming, agroecology; people who work in academia, in the food industry, in campaigning, growing, or decision-making; in wildlife-protection groups and food banks. All coming together shows the recognition that farming is not just about what happens in the fields; as the Square Meal report (9) points out, it affects our health, the health of the planet, the way our jobs are structured, and wildlife and biodiversity. The conversations which have sprung out of the Conference all point to a hopeful future, where we can work together to create more resilient, sustainable and affordable food systems beneficial to humans, animals and the planet. Not to be underestimated as well are the things which went unsaid; the feelings of connection and of support from one another.

This feeling was shared not just by me; as I found out at the Closing Plenary, which was basically a quarter of an hour of thanks being given to all present, especially the hosts, volunteers and sponsors. This is of course an important part of any event, though it began to feel somewhat strained as it kept dragging on. Then Jyoti Fernandes from the New Generation, New Ideas (17) was asked to stand up and speak. We prepared again for another thank-you speech. Instead, she scanned the crowd, locating Robin Grey, the man who had been providing folk-song entertainment for us the previous night, and insisting he come up on stage to lead the whole hall in a group singalong. Such an activity is perhaps not very common in this country anymore (outside of churches and other community groups) so it’s possible that some people in the crowd felt slightly embarrassed at this suggestion. Nevertheless, the power could be felt, no matter how silly it may seem, as we were led in the song which some of us had learnt the previous night, introduced as “the new national anthem, when the revolution comes”:

“Sing John Ball, and tell it to them all

Long be the day that is dawning,

I’ll crow like a cock and I’ll carol like a lark

For the light that’s coming in the morning.” (29)

Who John Ball is, or why he is an important part of this, is a tale for another story. What can be noted now is the importance of such joining activities in helping to create the better world we know is possible and easily achievable. If we are to spread such hope to others perhaps a good way is through interactions such as song and dance; which can appeal to many people at once without having to engage their intellectual (and thus possibly confrontational) mindset. A few days after the conference, I happened to mention to a (non-farming) friend the scientific study which predicts that our soils are so damaged that we only have “100 harvests left” (6). My friend shrugged, and with a laugh, commented, “oh well, at least that’s one hundred years of harvests!”

Such an attitude, though admirable in its optimism, is perhaps symptomatic of the lack of understanding and connection that can be seen in many in our society. Events such as the Real Farming Conference are helping to rebuild the connection, and lead the way to a place where we all care about farming and how it is done because we recognise that it is integral to our lives.

References

  1. Oxford Real Farming Conference, 2014. ‘About’. http://orfc.org.uk/about/ – retrieved 21/12/14
  2. Pasture Promise TV, 2015. ‘About’. http://www.pasturepromise.tv/video.php?section=About – retrieved 18/1/15
  3. Campaign for Real Farming, 2015. ‘About’. http://www.campaignforrealfarming.org/about/ – retrieved 18/1/15
  4. Institute of Mechanical Engineers, 2012. ‘Global Food: Waste Not, Want Not’. IMechE: London. Available as a PDF here: http://www.imeche.org/docs/default-source/reports/Global_Food_Report.pdf?sfvrsn=0
  5. UNCTAD, 2013. Wake Up Before It’s Too Late: Make Farming Truly Sustainable Now for Food Security in a Changing Climate. UNCTAD: Geneva. Available as a PDF here: http://unctad.org/en/publicationslibrary/ditcted2012d3_en.pdf – retrieved 04/1/15
  6. Withnall, A, 2014. “Britain has only 100 harvests left in its farm soil as scientists warn of growing ‘agricultural crisis’”. Independent, 20/10/14.
  7. FAO, 2015. ‘International Year of Soils’. http://www.fao.org/soils-2015/en/ – retrieved 06/01/15
  8. Raskin, B, 2015. Comment during ‘The Rural/Urban Divide’ Session, Groundspring Network. Oxford Real Farming Conference, 7/1/15
  9. Food Research Collaboration, 2014. The Square Meal Report: A Fair and Square Deal for Farming, People, Wildlife and Public Health. Food Research Collaboration: London. Available as a PDF here: http://foodresearch.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/squaremealfinalpdf-1.pdf – retrieved 18/1/15
  10. Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, 2015. ‘What We Do: Overview’. http://www.rspb.org.uk/whatwedo/ – retrieved 18/1/15
  11. Soil Association, 2014. ‘What Is Organic?’ http://www.soilassociation.org/whatisorganic – retrieved 06/01/15
  12. Organiclea, 2015. ‘About’. http://www.organiclea.org.uk/about/ – retrieved 06/01/15
  13. Sutton Community Farm, 2015. ‘About Us’. http://suttoncommunityfarm.org.uk/about-us-sutton-community-farm/ – retrieved 06/01/15
  14. UK Government Department for Communities and Local Government, 2012 (updated 2014). ‘Community Right to Reclaim Land’. https://www.gov.uk/government/policies/giving-people-more-power-over-what-happens-in-their-neighbourhood/supporting-pages/community-right-to-reclaim-land – retrieved 06/01/15
  15. UK Land Directory, 2015. ‘Land Usage in the UK’. http://www.uklanddirectory.org.uk/land-usage.asp– retrieved 18/1/15
  16. Land Workers Alliance, 2014. ‘Who We Are’. http://landworkersalliance.org.uk/organisation/ – retrieved 06/01/15
  17. Oxford Real Farming Conference, 2015. ‘New Generation, New Ideas’. http://orfc.org.uk/orfc-2015/new-generation-new-ideas/ retrieved 18/1/15
  18. The Jam Factory, 2015. ‘Welcome to the Jam Factory’. http://www.thejamfactoryoxford.com/ – retrieved 18/1/15
  19. Real Seeds, 2015. ‘About’. http://www.realseeds.co.uk/about.html – retrieved 18/1/15
  20. Soil Food Web, Inc, 2015. ‘Home Page’. http://www.soilfoodweb.com/Home_Page.html – retrieved 18/1/15
  21. Landworkers’ Alliance, 2014. ‘Groundspring Network’. http://landworkersalliance.org.uk/groundspring-network/ – retrieved 18/1/15
  22. Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens, 2015. ‘About Us’. https://www.farmgarden.org.uk/about-us – retrieved 18/1/15
  23. Farmstart Canada, 2015. ‘About Us’. http://www.farmstart.ca/about-us/ – retrieved 18/1/15
  24. Kindling Trust, 2014. ‘Farmstart Manchester’. http://kindling.org.uk/farmstart – retrieved 18/1/15
  25. Reclaim the Fields, 2015. ‘About Us’. http://www.reclaimthefields.org.uk/about/– retrieved 18/1/15
  26. Farmhack, 2015. ‘Home’. http://farmhack.net/home/ retrieved 18/1/15
  27. Landworkers’ Alliance, 2015. ‘Farmhack’. http://landworkersalliance.org.uk/farmhack/ retrieved 18/1/15
  28. Topspin Circus, 2013. ‘About Us’. http://topspincircus.wix.com/topspin#!about/c10fk retrieved 18/1/15
  29. Soundclick, 2015. ‘Lyrics: John Ball’. http://www.soundclick.com/bands/_music_lyrics.cfm?bandid=45728&songID=4135061&keepThis=true&TB_iframe=true&height=530&width=530 – retrieved 18/1/15

Orchards without Borders: Exploring Diversity and Culture

 

Enjoying the beauty of our food growing. Photo by Charlotte Haworth

Enjoying the beauty of our food growing. Photo by Charlotte Haworth

With reports showing that industrialised farming contributes to more than 10 % of climate change (see for example 1), that conventional farming is highly inefficient and actually more costly than small-scale multi-input agriculture (see for example 2) and even the UN insisting that our food systems need to change drastically if we expect to be able to feed ourselves and our families in the future (3), it seems increasingly clear that we need to change the way in which we obtain and consume our food.

How?

For some, this begins at a personal level: a great way to gain more food autonomy is to begin growing your own food. With this comes the need to learn about growing methods as well, crucially, learning about how to propagate your food varieties; otherwise you may have gained autonomy on one part of your food but you are still dependent on the large seed corporations to produce it in the first place. For more on this see my article ‘Seedy Issues’ here.

For others, the change is more political; with a diverse range of campaigns from Beyond GM (4) to the Campaign for Seed Sovereignty (5) raising awareness and influencing political opinion on the complex web of rules, regulations and trade agreements which affect our food, whether we are aware of them or not.

Another angle to come at it is the health angle, and your body’s need to have access to a diverse range of nutrients. Even if you have no interest at all in gardening or in politics you may be concerned over what food you eat and how it will affect your health.

Linking the issues

It can be seen that all of the issues mentioned are interrelated. When trying to create a healthy and happy life, it is important that we choose the right food for us. This means that the more resilient and healthy our food systems are, the happier we can be. Occasionally, laws, trends and regulations can come in the way of this: from the ‘norm’ of supermarkets only accepting a tiny proportion of the food varieties available (see for example 6) to dying arts such as seed saving and fruit tree grafting causing a deficit in our ability to produce good food (see for example 7).

A key aspect of improving our own and others’ ability to have access to healthy and sustainable food is to utilise what skills and knowledge are out there and create connections which can be more beneficial to ourselves and our environment than the complex web of logistics which so often characterises our internationalised food systems. It is with this in mind that I participated in the project Orchards Without Borders last month.

Orchards without Borders: trees which please

                The project (9) is a cultural exchange between England and France (and hopefully further afield) to help provide education, information and holistic interest in orchards and their uses. Set up by the Brighton Permaculture Trust (10) and Brighton and Hove Food Partnership (11) on the English side and Collines Normandy CPIE (12) in France and funded partly by Interreg (13), the part in which I participated was a study trip to Normandy where we visited both organic and non-organic orchards, taught orchard-related lessons in a French school, learned about how to make traditional products such as pastries, cider and pate de fruits. A healthy amount of actual tree planting was also involved.

Setting off

We travelled by car and ferry from Brighton to Normandy. On the ship on the way there we saw what could have been surmised as a good omen; a taster of how the rest of the trip would go.

Rainbow from teh ship - a good omen. Photo by Charlotte Haworth

Rainbow from the ship – a good omen. Photo by Charlotte Haworth

Once in France we found warm welcomes wherever we went. One thing which was particularly pleasing was how celebratory every meal we had appeared. I am not sure if this is due to French culture in general or just the people we were with, but it was highly satisfying experiencing the joy of shared food with people we had just met. From many years of working to engender enthusiasm in the pure celebration and joy which can be present in every single mouthful of food which we eat, it seems that if we are to make a cultural switch in which we create more sustainable food systems which benefit both us and the planet, this cannot be possible if we do not appreciate food in the first place (see for example 13).

Something which goes along nicely with appreciation of eating food is appreciation of what goes into food. As part of the trip we learned about traditional Norman ways to use apples, including a session in a real French bakery where we were taught how to make a number of Norman baked delights.

Making apple pastries in the boulangerie. Photo by Charlotte Haworth

Making apple pastries in the boulangerie. Photo by Charlotte Haworth

And learning how to make traditional Norman tarte. Photo by Charlotte Haworth

And learning how to make traditional Norman tarte. Photo by Charlotte Haworth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We also learned how to make pâte de fruits, a kind of sugary, fruity paste which is dried in order to preserve the good nutrition in the fruit and make a tasty sweet which is kind of healthy (if you are ok with having half as much sugar as fruit) for the winter. As far as I am aware there is not really a direct English equivalent, though we do have a very ancient tradition from long before sugar was introduced to the British Isles of making a kind of dried fruit leather (for more on this see 14). Our teacher, Josine, told how in some parts of Normandy the tradition is so important that there are whole festivals devoted to the making of this sticky delicacy. She mentioned one place, Vire, where the mixture is made in a giant cauldron which is stirred by the townspeople for hours on end while they sing traditional songs.

Though our cauldron was not that large I still had a go.

Stirring the cauldron. Photo by Stephan Gehrels

Stirring the cauldron. Photo by Stephan Gehrels

Fruity Issues

Throughout the trip, one thing which kept resurfacing as a key issue was the importance of diversity; both in our orchards and beyond. Whilst teaching eight, nine and ten-year-old children we used the newly invented ‘Orchards are Alive’ magnetic board to help illustrate the huge range of creatures and plants which are present in a healthy orchard from season to season. We visited one eating-apple orchard where they grew around thirty different varieties of apple. This diversity of life is important to keep the ecosystem in balance, but also to produce healthier fruit. Indeed, most apple varieties need at least one other type present in order to achieve pollination, and some need two (15). Pollination itself is done by insects such as wasps and bees (17) so if there is too much pesticide you are creating more work for yourself as you will endanger the creatures which will make the fruit for you.

Orchards are Alive! Photo by Charlotte Haworth

Orchards are Alive! Photo by Charlotte Haworth

Caring for orchards means caring for not just some fruit trees but the intricate web of which they are a part. There are some aspects of the web which it may be necessary to discourage; for example, any apple grower I have ever met cannot say the word ‘vole’ without a distinctly sour look – but as long as you respect the holistic nature of it then balance can be achieved, rather than simply encouraging a monoculture where ultimately you are creating a lot more work and less nutrition.

Once you start realising how important diversity is to growing fruit, it can be extrapolated outwards to include – well, everything. All plants need to reproduce in some way and most of our food plants use insects to do this. Many plants also have sympathetic relationships with each other or produce by-products which can be used by others; this mutually beneficial effect cannot be achieved if you strive to just grow one thing in one place.

The same goes for own bodies, whether we are aware of it or not. The more diverse our range of nutrients is the healthier we are; with supermarket trends towards selling only a few varieties of food this is being thrown off balance. Indeed, there appear to be a number of trends which actively discourage diversity; from the EU’s regulations on seed adaptability and resilience (see for example 17) to border controls limiting the diversity of our own human population.

Orchards without Borders is helping to redress this balance by celebrating the diversity we have and cultivating more. We brought back a number of Norman varieties of apple to grow in Sussex, and there are some Sussex apples mingling in Norman orchards. Perhaps you do not have any fruit trees to hand to swap; but there are probably a number of ways in which you can encourage biodiversity in your own life.

References

  1. Gilbert, N, 2012. ‘One-third of our greenhouse gas emissions come from agriculture’. Nature, 31/10/12. http://www.nature.com/news/one-third-of-our-greenhouse-gas-emissions-come-from-agriculture-1.11708 – retrieved 11/12/14
  2. Oakshotte, I, and Lamberley, P, 2014. Farmageddon: The True Cost of Cheap Meat. Bloomsbury: London
  3. UNCTAD, 2013. Wake Up Before it’s too Late: Make Farming Truly Sustainable Now. UNCTAD: Geneva. Available as a PDF here: http://unctad.org/en/PublicationsLibrary/ditcted2012d3_en.pdf – retrieved 11/12/14
  4. Beyond GM, 2014. ‘Home’. http://beyond-gm.org/ – – retrieved 11/12/14
  5. Campaign for Seed Sovereignty, 2014. ‘Seed Sovereignty’. http://www.seed-sovereignty.org/EN/ – retrieved 11/12/14
  6. Bifurcated Carrots, 2007. ‘Biodiversity Begins at Home’. http://bifurcatedcarrots.eu/2007/10/biodiversity-begins-at-home/ – retrieved 11/12/14
  7. Soil Association, 2014. ‘Ben Raskin’s Seedy Weekend’. http://www.soilassociation.org/news/newsstory/articleid/7458/ben-raskin-s-seedy-weekend – retrieved 11/12/14
  8. Brighton Permaculture Trust, 2014. ‘Normandy Partnership: Orchards without Borders’. https://brightonpermaculture.org.uk/orchards/withoutborders – retrieved 29/11/14
  9. Brighton and Hove Food Partnership, 2014. ‘About’. http://bhfood.org.uk/about/ – retrieved 29/11/14
  10. Brighton Permaculture Trust, 2014. ‘Who We Are’. http://brightonpermaculture.org.uk/about
  11. Collines Normandes, 2014. ‘Le CPIE’. http://www.cpie61.fr/ – retrieved 11/12/14
  12. North West Europe Programme, 2014. ‘Interreg’. https://www.nweurope.eu/ – retrieved 29/11/14
  13. Pretty, J, 2002. Agri-Culture: Reconnecting People, Land and Nature. Routledge: London
  14. Mears, R, 2013. Wild Food. Episode 2: ‘Wild Food and Foraging’. BBC: London. Excerpt available on Youtube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tZbGRWO8wnU – retrieved 11/12/14
  15. Law, B, 2014. Woodsman: Living in a wood in the 21st Century. William Collins: New York
  16. Plants For a Future, 2014. ‘Malus Domestica’. http://pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Malus+domestica – retrieved 11/12/14
  17. Sheil, S, 2013. ‘Seeds and other Plant Reproductive Material: Towards new EU Rules’. European Parliament, 10/06/13. http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/bibliotheque/briefing/2013/130547/LDM_BRI%282013%29130547_REV1_EN.pdf – retrieved 11/12/14

Growing Halloween

Come We Grow

Last Friday, the 31st of October, saw the marking of a number of occasions. The date has special significance for a number of cultures anyway, and not just for connotations of plastic masks, glow-in-the-dark teeth and threatening (or is it cajoling?) your neighbours for sweets. On top of this, it was also the day of Come We Grow, which I had the pleasure of being involved in.

What is Come We Grow?

                Last week’s event, held at the Wheatsheaf Hall in Vauxhall, South London, was celebrating the release of ‘Fear of a Green Planet’, the new EP from KMT. He is the co-founder of the May Project Gardens in Morden, which combine an interesting mix of permaculture garden and community and music studio where people from all walks of life can go and record.

KMT (his artist name: he introduced himself to me as KMT Ian) seems to have equally strong roots in both hip-hop rap and permaculture. An example of how these perhaps sometimes seemingly incongruous themes come together is KMT’s ‘bling’: from a distance, a large, chunky silver necklace such as may be fashionable among trendy rappers (though I won’t pretend to know about these things). As you get closer, however, it becomes clear that the necklace has been made up of recycled ring-pull tabs.

Celebrations of Growing

                The workshop I was running at Come We Grow focusses on our identification with culture, and indeed what it means to be a part of an existing or emerging culture. In line with this, the subject of Halloween came up; and we explored the significance of this celebration as seen by the people present. To help facilitate discussions we had a pumpkin with us, which got participants talking of carving and of fancy dress. We ended up exploring the idea that many Halloween traditions which are common now in UK culture are based on commercial gain rather than actual cultural ties. When asked if anyone knew of any deeper Halloween traditions no one could say. I was quite surprised at this, though it could have been that simply people were getting tired. I decided to share my reasons for celebrating this date, which I shall summarise here too.

Halloween

                Halloween is a later name for one of the eight important pagan celebrations held throughout the year. Each are chosen according to how much light there is rather than a particular numbered day. At the longest and shortest days we have, respectively, the Summer and Winter Solstices, and in between these, when the day and night become equal in length, are the Spring and Autumn Equinoxes. Then in between each of these days are four more celebrations, “cross-quarter” days in the middle of the others, when change is in the air and, as many traditions believe, the world of magic and of spirits is closer to our own.

These four ‘in between’ festivals can be seen as the most potent times of year, and though pagan and Celtic traditions have been somewhat forgotten in this country, are still celebrated by people nowadays, though possibly as more of a revival than a continuation, since so much of our traditions were totally lost. The eight festivals are listed at the bottom of this article with the “cross-quarterly”, or (as some feel) more magical, ones, in bold, and the one which corresponds to Halloween is known as Samhain (pronounced “sa-ween”).

For me, Halloween is about the celebration of this time of change, of the light and dark in their eternal dance, and the seasons turning towards the chill of winter. Though I have found the Pagan calendar to be of use in my own personal celebration-marking, I am by no means exclusively bound by it and have researched many other traditions of this day too, taking from them the meanings which suit me. In some cultures this is a time for honouring the dead, such as with the Mexican celebration of El Dia de Los Muertos (see for example 2), and I feel this is important not just for remembering whichever friends or relatives you know who have passed on, but also with a consideration of your ancestors and all those who have gone before you, and what they have given to you.

It certainly made an interesting accompaniment to the seedbomb making, which was the actual practical aim of my workshop. Even our younger friends, who let’s face it were only really there to play with mud and clay, seemed vaguely interested in our Halloween explorations.

Welcome

                Later on, as the night truly began drawing in and the faint flutter of otherworldy beings to flick in and out of our peripheral hearing (well ok, it may have been the kettle boiling in the cafe), we witnessed the Welcoming Ceremony of the evening. In order to give the attendants a proper welcome, Come We Grow actually had a Shamanic Celebrant to help us all get into the right mood. Aama Sade Shepneki (2), the Celebrant, has a grace and presence which is quite notable, even when she is not speaking. When she began the ceremony, playing a djembe to raise everyone’s energy levels, there was more than one person present with goosepimples.

She also mentioned the importance of Samhain and how, as she puts it, “the veil is thinner” at this time of year. She says it is a time for drawing in our energy and storing up our reserves in preparation for the cold season; a synchronicity with my explorations of the symbolism of the pumpkin and all of the good food which it represents. She says it is also a time for reflection on what we have achieved and meditation on what we are planning.

For anyone who may, too, have been trying to start something new over the past couple of weeks and been repeatedly flummoxed by it, these seem helpful words to remember.

Hip hop permaculture

Following the Welcome, KMT gave an introduction by singing one of his rap songs; a history of the May Project Gardens. The chorus is “planting little seeds every day/ watching the world just change” (3) and as he wandered around the hall he gave out actual seeds to accompany the song.

Having a keen interest in both music and permaculture, it was inspiring to see such heartfelt and passionate art being performed right in front of me. I suppose I lost interest a little in combining my two hobbies after hearing some of the tepidly whimsical songs which have come out related to permaculture. KMT has helped to reignite that interest. It is so clear now: just because we care about the planet and about each other, doesn’t mean we also can’t make music with raw energy and soul.

Another key benefit of the musical aspect of May Project Gardens is that it can help foster connections with so many more people than a simple permaculture project. Many people have never heard of permaculture but a lot of people, especially in South London, have heard of hip hop. Perhaps they come to the May Project just to make music, which is fine. But maybe while they are there they get a tour of the gardens, and end up deciding to help out there, or to recreate some or other aspect of the gardens in their own lives.

All in all, a highly inspirational event, and I look forward to participating in future Growing celebrations.

References

  1. UNESCO, 2014. ‘Indigenous Festivity Dedicated to the Dead’. http://www.unesco.org/culture/ich/RL/00054 – retrieved 09/11/14
  2. Tree Circle Ceremonies, 2014. ‘About’. http://www.treecircleceremonies.co.uk/ – retrieved 09/11/14
  3. KMT Freedom Teacher, 2014. ‘Little Seeds’. http://kmtfreedomteacher.bandcamp.com/track/little-seeds – retrieved 09/11/14

The Eight Festivals in the Wheel of the Year

The festivals have different names according to different traditions but I am familiar with their Gaelic names (so good luck saying them correctly because I don’t think I do):

– Midwinter or Winter Solstice – around December 21st. shortest day of the year

Imbolc – pronounced “i-molk” – around February 2nd. In between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox

– Ostara or Spring Equinox – around 21 March. New Year – days become longer than nights

Beltane – pronounced “bel-tain” – around May 1st. In between Spring Equinox and Summer Solstice

– Midsummer or Sumer Solstice – around June 21st. longest day of the year

Lammas or Lughnasadh – pronounced “lu-na-sa” – around August 2nd. Traditionally beginning of harvest; in between Summer Solstice and Autumn Equinox

– Mabon or Autumn Equinox – around September 21st. Nights become longer than days

Samhain – pronounced “sa-ween” – around October 31st. in between Autumn Equinox and Winter Solstice

Gleaning First Hand

Gleaning First-Hand

Before I ever heard of the term ‘glean’ in any other context than ‘gather information,’ I already had experience of situations of abundances of food being underutilised. In Andalucía, where I lived for some time, I saw or heard about many cases of orchards or tree plantations whose owners can no longer afford to pay people to pick the fruit when it is ripe, so it makes more economical sense for them to simply leave them on the trees. There are also fields of trees which have been totally abandoned; perhaps the farmer died and all of the younger generation have moved to the cities.

Untended Olive Grove

Untended Olive Grove. Photo by David Ashwanden

In some parts of Spain there are entire villages who have suffered this fate, and if an enterprising group of young people were to go and set up homes there they may be able to revive the whole village and help it develop in whatever way they wish to. Indeed, this has become something of a trend, and there now exist real-estate agents who offer abandoned villages for sale to enterprising groups (see for example 1). How they obtained the villages and by whose designation they have the right to sell them is another question, one which I will not explore here.

When things are left in this way it presents amazing opportunities; but what I did not experience in Andalucía was an organised way of collecting all the fruit which would potentially otherwise be going to waste, and so when I embarked upon my first glean this September as part of the Sussex Gleaning Network (2), it was to be an eye-opening experience into how much we can harvest when we harvest together.

Gleaning with a smile

For me, it started with an apple. I quickly progressed to plums, and later participated in a mammoth glean of delicious sweetcorn. Pumpkins are looming on the horizon; sometimes I imagine this might be akin to how Eve felt. After taking that first apple, why would you go back?

The Sussex Gleaning Network (2) organises gleans by first getting into contact with farmers to see if they are likely to have any surplus produce, and if they would be happy for gleaners to take it. Once farmers have agreed the Network then has a relatively short space of time in which to plan logistics; as we cannot know until the actual harvest time exactly how much surplus there will be, if any.

This means that volunteers who are ready to spring into action the moment a date is set are absolutely key to gleaning work. Rideshares are sorted, lunches packed, pick-ups co-ordinated and directions, inevitably, mis-followed, and then we arrive on the farm.

On both of the gleans in which I have participated there were more than ten other volunteers, making the whole occasion wonderfully sociable. Everyone brings a little food from home which then gets placed together in one giant shared meal, and the fresh air and the actual visible evidence of so much abundance helps to foster the good mood.

Gleaners Together

The communal aspect of the picking also helps engender a connection with your fellow gleaners; there is a sense of shared creativity, of working together to make something beautiful. This sense is something I often experience when playing music together with other people as well, and perhaps it was no coincidence that many on the sweetcorn glean suggested that we think of some corn-harvesting songs to sing together to help the picking.

It may also not have been a coincidence that we did have a way of making music in the corn fields too.

Corn whistle

Corn whistle. Photo by David Ashwanden

Yes that's right - an ocarina in the shape of a corn cob. Why would you go on a corn glean without one?

(Photo by David Ashwanden). Yes that’s right – an ocarina in the shape of a corn cob. Why would you go on a corn glean without one?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of equal importance was the continuous punning which went on all day. You would be amazed with how many corny one-liners can be made on the subject.

Reasons to glean

We heard some of the reasons why the apple and plum farmer had so much surplus. One was that apparently it has been, in England, a particularly good year for apples. You would think that this would make a farmer joyous at harvest time; but because of the market which he has to sell to, instead it means that there are too many apples for sale and the prices go down.

Another reason is the war in Ukraine, which has resulted in some trade being stopped between Russia and the EU. We heard that Germany and Poland usually export apples to Russia but that since they cannot now, the next natural export market to turn to is the UK as the pound is relatively strong right now. Thus, in spite of the particularly good year which we have had here in England for apples, supermarkets are actually turning them away as apples from elsewhere are cheaper.

With the sweetcorn, the reasons appeared even more arbitrary. The farmer simply said that he probably would not be able to sell all of the corn, and so he was not going to harvest it. He did not seem worried about his financial situation. I did not get a chance to question him in detail so I don’t know exactly what his personal circumstances were or why he felt the need to abandon vast swathes of his crops. It could be that he receives subsidies for his work and so is not in dire need of gaining a return from the corn. For more on this see (3).

Gleanfest

Regardless of why or how it comes about, gleaning puts you in direct connection with food in its naked state, before it become embroiled in the occasionally tortuously long networks of packaging, processing, shipping, transporting etc. so common to our food today. This in itself makes going on a glean a worthwhile experience and I would encourage everyone to do the same, if only to feel first-hand what it’s like to actually pick the fruit or vegetables which you eat on a daily basis. This is one of the key ways in which we can begin rebuilding our connection to the food we eat and the natural world of which it and we are a part. To then be able to bring that to share with people who do not have much access to fresh food makes it even more worthwhile.

Sussex Gleaning Co-ordinator Vera Zakharov adding to the huge amount of corn

Sussex Gleaning Co-ordinator Vera Zakharov adding to the huge amount of corn

You also learn a lot when you come and glean. I have grown corn in the past but many people may not have seen it in situ; and I am certainly not expert enough to have ever come across ‘smut’ before. No, I’m not talking about some kind of crazed cornography (see what I mean?); it’s a type of fungus which grows on corn that looks like this:

SMUTMore SMUTLooks delicious, right? Well, unless you are Mexican it may be surprising (it would certainly not be my immediate instinct to put that substance into my mouth) but in some parts of the world corn smut is seen as a delicacy. See (4) for more information – it is apparently even good for you.

Abundance amounts

On the apple and plum day we managed, with between ten and fifteen people, to harvest a total of approximately 982.5kg of fruit to be redistributed through Fareshare (5). This hefty amount pales in comparison to what we harvested on the day of the corn, however, when we ended with something in the vicinity of 2.5 tonnes of sweetcorn, distributed through Fareshare to groups in Brighton and Hove but also Community Food Enterprises or CFE (6), a similar group who instead of operating nationally are based in London, who took as much as they could to that city.

On both days one of the most poignant aspects was the sheer amount of fruit and vegetables which remained even after we had filled the Fareshare and CFE trucks, and every volunteer had taken as much as they could realistically carry. Some volunteers and recipient groups may have been a little concerned about what they would do with it all; though I remain confident that all fresh food can be preserved in nutritious and long-lasting ways. With this in mind I and my fellow food-gathering accomplice filled two large backpacks with sweetcorn,  making sure we tried some of it first.

Tasty!

Tasty!

We were now ready to embark upon a whole plethora of food preservation experiments.

The results were, as you may imagine, delicious, and I shall share some of them with you in the next blog post.

References

  1. Aldeas Abandonadas (Abandoned Villages), 2014. ‘Venta de Aldeas’. http://aldeasabandonadas.com/venta-de-aldeas.html – retrieved 28/10/14
  2. Gleaning Network, 2014. http://feedbackglobal.org/campaigns/gleaning-network/ – retrieved 28/10/14
  3. Monbiot, G, 2014. ‘The farming lobby has wrecked efforts to defend our soil’. Guardian, 5/6/2014. http://www.theguardian.com/environment/georgemonbiot/2014/jun/05/the-farming-lobby-has-wrecked-efforts-to-defend-our-soil – retrieved 28/10/14
  4. Mendoza, M, 2010. ‘Corn Smut Delicacy Huitlacoche is Good for You.’ Huffington Post, 27/04/2010. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/04/27/huitlacoche-corn-smut-goo_n_553422.html – retrieved 3/11/14
  5. Fareshare, 2014. ‘About’. http://www.fareshare.org.uk/about_us/ – retrieved 28/10/14
  6. Community Food Enterprises, 2014. ‘About CFE’. http://www.c-f-e.org.uk/About%20CFE.htm – retrieved 28/10/14