When I was researching my MA dissertation topic back in 2011, Incredible Edible stood out as a fantastic example of the innovative use of unused public space.
However, it was another three years before I co-founded Incredible Edible Swindon with Anna Komar, Amanda Adams and Lisa Mullan. We were then joined, a few months later, by David Sparkes and together we make up the Strategy Team of Incredible Edible Swindon.
I don’t have a specific role but instead work collaboratively with the others to develop our projects and I also take a lead on maintaining our social media pages.
Initially we met once a month to plan our projects, however we began suffering meeting over-kill (!) and some of us wanted to concentrate on certain projects only, so now we just arrange planning meetings as and when required.
But we do also get together as a team for a monthly coffee catch up and have socials in a local pub which are open to anyone wanting to come and chat to us about our work.
Our first plot, which we are still involved with, was at the Central Community Centre in the historic Railway Village in Swindon. Last year we also ran a doorstep grow bag project in the area where we gave residents the opportunity to grow the Three Sisters - corn, peas/beans and squash - for themselves and their families.
I think this project has been our biggest success so far - one resident told us it had greatly improved her relationship with her neighbour, simply from both of them having growbags and having conversations about tending their plants.
Currently, we are working in two streets in West Swindon and now other residents have asked us to do the same with them. We are also working with a local primary school and a charity supporting refugees and asylum seekers.
There are many useful things, our group picked up on the way. Firstly, we found it really helpful to sit down at the very beginning and brainstorm what we wanted to ensure we were all ‘singing from the same hymn sheet’ so to speak. We also found the online resources for new groups invaluable. l
Our biggest challenge has been perhaps trying to make sure we’re not taking too much on. We all work full time, are involved in other community projects and some of us have families too so we have a lot to juggle.
It’s easy to keep saying ‘yes’ to requests for our help because we’re so passionate about what we do and so sometimes hard to get a good work/life balance.
I would like IE Ltd to create more opportunities for groups to meet, connect and share experiences with each other. It is so useful having the chance to hear what has and hasn’t worked for other groups, particularly if there you’ve got similar challenges. It’s also great to hear about other groups’ projects and get some inspiration!
I am also hoping to see IE Ltd develop strong strategic partnerships with organisations who are dedicated to tackling food poverty in the UK – such as such as the Trussell Trust, Food Cycle and the Real Junk Food Project.