With The Power of Food Festival 2018 kicking off next week, our guest blog is authored by the festival founder, Marie-Amélie Viatte. Marie-Amélie discusses the incredible power of food and the impact from the increasing number of community food growing projects.
“We had an impressive taster of flower salad. It made me want to garden. I long to eat the strawberries I’d had growing up! We could see, touch, try, taste and meet, talk, learn! I recommend to everyone to go and have a peek; you won’t be disappointed to participate in the next edition of The Power of Food Festival!” (from a 2017 visitor)
On 16-17 June, as we approach the summer solstice, 23 community food gardens all around Edinburgh will fling open their gates for a weekend of fun and celebration. We invite you to go out and explore something beautiful you maybe didn’t even imagine existed on your doorstep. So what lies behind this idea of celebrating community food growing?
My childhood perspective on food – centred on the joyful occasion of shared meals prepared with love and respect – has now grown into an acute awareness that food is at the crossroads of so many challenges the world faces: health, social inequalities, climate change, North/South relations, biodiversity, water, waste, landscape, economics, food poverty.
Food is universal and concerns us all. We all must eat to live. What we eat impacts on our own health as well as on the natural world, and on all the people involved in getting food from field to plate. Our food choices shape our society and our environment – both urban and rural. Our environment also influences what we eat. Food is central to our societal well-being, for better and for worse. It is the social glue that connects us to one another and to the world around us.
Over the last 10 years or so, an inspiring number of community food growing groups have sprung up all over Edinburgh, the UK and beyond. People have started to dig the ground in their local schools, libraries, hospitals, council estates, shared greens, street corners or wherever they could, and have come together to transform their neighbourhood. They have turned boring patches of grass and neglected pieces of land into beautiful productive green spaces, have had fun getting their hands dirty; they have watched the seasons go by, the birds come and go; together they have reaped the fruit of their efforts. They have shared their skills and knowledge. They have made new friends and have enjoyed eating together.
As Ewan Aitken highlighted in his power of food podcast: food is a catalyst for change; growing it together and sharing it enables an understanding of self and others that creates huge resilience.
The act of growing one’s own food is powerful and to do it with others changes lives. It is about self-reliance and positive collective action: ordinary people taking power in their own hands to make positive change happen. Community food gardens are a focal point where people go and spend time together, acting against social isolation in neighbourhoods. They are welcoming oases of calm where nature sets the pace and buffers the stress of everyday life.
Community growing reconnects us to ourselves, to others, to nature, and to where food comes from. It is having a profound impact, yet it is happening in a humble way, mostly unnoticed. The Power of Food Festival has been created to showcase and celebrate it all. The 23 gardens taking part in the Festival this year include an old farmhouse, long-lost ancient castle grounds, internationally renowned gardens, previously unloved pieces of land, urban and rural crofts, and repurposed old industrial sites; they all have an interesting story to tell. The programme is varied and includes music and dance, guided bike rides, bioblitz and bug hunts, storytelling and poetry-making, games and crafts, and of course, food and drinks to enjoy together. We invite you all to come out and enjoy it!
Founder, The Power of Food Festival
6th June 2018
“Fantastic place! Best Day Ever! [Our] little girl took home a bottle of elderflower cordial as she loved it. Wow, totally amazing project. What great work you are doing and a great contribution to the community.” (from a 2017 visitor)
The Festival is entirely free and volunteer-run. Gardens opening times vary.
Check the programme for details: Power of Food Festival Programme 2018