War Memorial Gary Trouton

"Our Food Our Future"

March 2010

John calls for local people to join in the fight for Our Food or Future

"Our Food Our Future"

Stoke Ferry Village Hall

Saturday March 13th 5pm-10pm

Calling all growers, would be allotment holders, people interested in getting together with others to grow fruit and veg and people who want to spend less and eat better...

This is part of a series of events occurring in villages in the area looking at the need to address the growing food crisis through supporting local food growing, cooking and eating. Organised by 'Downham and Villages in Transition'

Come and join us for

5.00 Seed Swap/ Information, stands/ Tea

6/ 7 Talk/discussion; Karen Kenny, Gardening guru/Regional Rep. of the National Society of Allotment & Leisure Gardeners.

7.00 Film Food, Inc.

8.30 Food, simple, local and tasty/Social an affordable

9.00 Talk/ possibly panel discussion - ideas

10 ish Finish

Call Carol 01366 502106

Food, Inc.

Stoke Ferry hosts an "indy screening" of this powerful documentary, shortlisted for the Oscars. This is what Rolling Stone magazine have to say about it.

Eating can be one dangerous business. Don't take another bite till you see Robert Kenner's Food, Inc., an essential, indelible documentary that is scarier than anything in the last five Saw horror shows. Kenner keeps his film bouncing with humour, music and graphics. Just like the ads that shove junk food down our faces. The message he's delivering with the help of nutrition activists, including Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation) and Michael Pollan (The Omnivore's Dilemma), is an eye-opener. High-fructose corn syrup and its friend the E.coli virus are declaring war on national health, and federal agencies, lobbied by Big Agriculture, ain't doing a thing to stop it. Reason? Profits. The movie offers solid alternatives. If the way to an audience's heart is through its stomach, Food, Inc. is a movie you're going to love.

Allotments in Stoke Ferry?

Put your questions to Karen Kenny at "Our Food , Our Future",

Saturday 13th March 5pm-10pm in the Village Hall.

Karen Kenny, 60 and a Grandma, is a gardening guru and the Eastern Region Representative of the National Society of Allotment & Leisure Gardeners.

Is there more demand for allotments in cities or the countryside?

Allotments aren't just popular in urban environments (where people may not have a garden) but in rural areas as well. Many allotments have been taken away and built on, so we have to re-establish sites in the countryside as well as in the urban community.

Why is there such a shortage of allotments?

All councils in England and Wales (with the exception of inner London due to lack of land) legally have to provide allotments where residents demand them. Unfortunately many parish councils don't have funds to purchase land for allotments. We need government to step in with the money to support our work. There are debates in Parliament and various white papers, but we need more government leadership on allotment strategy and support.

I've been on a waiting list for an allotment for two years. What can people like me do?

Some waiting lists are years and years - you might be a pensioner by the time you get one! Each authority has a statutory duty to provide a sufficient quantity of plots to let to local people. If you're having trouble, contact the National Society and find out who your representative is. They'll help you create an association that works like a pressure group to encourage your local council to provide allotments.

Is it important that allotments are organic?

I believe it is - I lecture on organic gardening and personally feel it's very important, but most allotments on the whole are fairly organic. If you work it properly and everything goes back to the soil, it's self-sustaining.

Can you have animals on an allotment?

You can have chickens and rabbits, though pigs are no longer allowed. In some areas you're allowed to keep bees, and we're all aware how important they are for biodiversity and pollination.

Do you consider yourself an eco hero? I'm definitely an environmentalist and am involved with many issues (when I'm not looking after my grandchildren). I'm on the Ipswich Borough Environmental Protection Panel, advising the council on green subjects. I lecture and speak to horticultural clubs on organic gardening and appear on BBC Radio Suffolk's Saturday Gardening programme. On a personal level, I recycle and have a compost heap.

Finally to put all this into context a few words from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

Sharing land, community and food

Growing a few potatoes in a back garden, tending a little fruit tree, perhaps digging a shared allotment patch - these things don't sound particularly revolutionary or innovative, do they? But these small acts of domestic agriculture can be part of something exciting, progressive and, if you'll excuse the pun, ground-breaking.

For decades now, we have been moving away from the land, away from self-sufficiency, away from even knowing where our food comes from, let alone growing it ourselves. That leaves us with significantly less power, less influence and less knowledge when it comes to choosing the food we want to eat. It leaves us heavily reliant on large-scale producers, often in other countries, and on massive commodity crops - which, if they fail, leave nothing in their place. And of course it means that much of the food we eat comes freighted with a rather large environmental price tag.

Sourcing your own food locally whenever you can is a simple way to redress the balance. Producing some of it yourself is even better, in my book. Combining these two approaches by working co-operatively with other local people to grow fruit and veg is perhaps most exciting of all - because you're not just feeding yourself. Such co-operative schemes help to sustain a whole community. And if the family that eats together stays together, just imagine what the community that eats together can do.

Garden-share schemes are now cropping up (literally) all over the UK. The Landshare project is one I'm heavily involved in myself. We know that many people who want to grow their own food struggle to find the land they need to do it. Landshare brings together people with land to spare (anything from a postage-stamp back garden to a few acres) and people who want to start digging and planting. The future of our food is in our own hands.

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (see www.rivercottage.net and www.landshare.net for details of his own garden-share-inspired scheme)

John Preston

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