“If everyone can make a tiny difference the result can be massive – People Power!”,Sara Venn.
What is your job about?
Incredible Edible Bristol has come out of two things – the Incredible Edible network and the 300+ Incredible Edible groups worldwide. We are also very interested in what is going on in the US with Urban farming and the use of land which would have otherwise been unused, wasteland or derelict to be used for growing plants and food. We want to be able to cover the entire city, some of our community groups were already running, who we helped to keep running and others groups we helped to set up in specific places. We also have propaganda gardens in the city centre which we are running in collaboration with other communities. People have to feel that they are engaged, we say to people come to us tell us want you want and we will support you to facilitate that. We work with groups to say you think you need these resources, lets do it in a way where you don’t have to use money to do it. We help people to have the confidence to grow their own food and feed themselves in a healthy and empowering way.
What issues do you address?
- We struggle with the council at office level, its been difficult to get into certain areas within Bristol
- Lots of areas which are quite deprived have lots of people coming in saying they will do projects but they do not actually follow through. We have a challenge with showing them that we will do what we say we will. Gaining trust is really important and you need a level of direct action.
- We must involve the community and help the more deprived areas
What moved you to take action?
They run similar programmes in LA and I thought if they can do it so can we. I am a horticulturalist and have always known about Incredible Edible, I just thought I have to do this.
What were the obstacles that you had to overcome?
No major obstacles. If people have a problem with it I tend to just ignore them, I don’t know how you can have a problem with something which improves spaces. People can really see the results – they see that we do care and are making a difference.
What helped you keep going in hard times?
- We have had some struggles with the council such as you cant plant a fruit tree there because someone might slip, but you just have to have faith that you are doing the right thing.
- I was invited to Sheffield University and my friend who works there said that I was the kind of troublemaker every city should have.
What first prompted you to become interested in environmental issues and when was that?
1976 – when I was 6, my mum said to me ‘you will be alive when the oil runs out’ I went what does that mean? That has really stuck with me. I think I have been environmentally aware since I was 6. This made me ask questions and think about the environment, as I have got older and gone through stuff.
On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being very happy) where would you rate how you feel about your life?
In what I am doing 9
In the world 4