In January, we launched the Growing Solidarity project. We are fortunate to have the means to be on bountiful land. On the farm we work, live and collectively grow organic food together. We recognise the importance of nature connection. Furthermore, we want to do what we can to provide the same access to others…to share what we have got. Knowing that there are many that don’t have the same opportunity, nature can bring opportunity. When do we hear about social justice in farming?
From choice comes empowerment…
The crisis opened up a space to grow something! We began working with Reading Refugee Support Group (RRSG) to deliver seeds, seedlings, soil, from our farm. To support individuals and families in our local migrant community. As we, cautiously, approach an easing of lockdown, it appears it’s possible to reopen our farm to visitors again. We are located next to a wonderful forest in the Hardwick Estate, inviting the RRSG community to explore with us. Offering space to connect with nature, rest and socialise. It’s a chance to share and grow together, in a beautiful natural setting.
Standing strong in our belief that everybody should have the opportunity to grow food and medicine. In order to sustain themselves, their families and their own communities. The aim is to listen to the individuals and families that we work with. Provide resources to support the ideas that they come up with. And, empower them to shape the project and take it in directions that they choose.
Before the crisis, we were regularly opening up our farm for this project. As we were unable to host visitors during lockdown, we have been connecting with people directly at home. Each week, we deliver a range of seeds and plants to homes. Along with planters (up-cycled from pallets!), soil, tools and knowledge about growing. What we bring each week, is led by the individual or household. People can choose to fill up their own planter, and choose the seedlings they want. Having a choice, is important in what we offer.
During our visits, new gardeners have given us their own pickled delicacies. People have also been sharing their seedlings and produce with others in the community. Through sowing seeds in a literal sense, it is our hope that this project can be a seed from which all kinds of fruits will grow!
Practising social justice in farming
Crisis expands our imaginations around what is possible…
As Canadian activist Naomi Klein puts it, “the status quo is an emergency…in this moment of vulnerability, we must shine light on what is possible and carry this forward into building a different future”.
It is a time of disconnection and fragmentation. Not only from each other, but also the natural world. In the hemp industry, we are reminded often it’s difficult and constricting barriers. There are many loops to jump through to get into this industry. As we grow, we want to make social justice in farming part of our journey. We see investing in connection to one another, our communities and the land, as a necessary stepping stone towards a better future. And a more resilient future. Growing Solidarity offers one of those steps.