Wednesday, 17 June 2020
Growing resilience in our garden
What do we need in order to grow resilience? A healthy natural world, local self-sufficiency and a robust community that is diverse, happy and healthy so it can adjust to different circumstances. By Charlotte Synge.
Many things have become apparent from this pandemic but one of the most obvious, and heart-warming, is that most people are co-operators, not competitors, and they have felt empowered and fulfilled as they work together for the common good. This is one of the reasons why community groups, such as our garden, are an important part of our society, especially when things get rough. Our garden gives people a point of connection and a shared commitment to work together and help each other out. This creates a community ecosystem of people with varied skills and attributes that makes everyone more able and valuable as they work together. It is this community power that gives us the strength and stability required to adjust to new situations and to support each other. It is this community power that gives us a sense of worth, creates relationships and enables resilience.
Another encouraging thing about this pandemic has been people’s discovery of what’s really important to their well-being - food, people and nature. Our garden provides a space where people can garden, which research shows is good for both physical and mental well-being, but it is also a place where people have been able to meet and share a project, even when socially distanced during lockdown. With its wildlife areas and ethos of caring for nature and people it also provides a wonderful space where people come to relax and be in touch with nature. What’s more, it does this right in the city where so many have no garden of their own; so it is no wonder that more people have come to our garden to take solace, find community and look after their physical and mental health during this pandemic.
It has been a difficult time for everyone and as more information becomes available about the pandemic, we are reminded of just how much is outside our control. A global market has been created that has ousted out our traditional local system, we no longer buy mainly local goods, we don’t give enough support to our small local businesses and we spend our money outside our locality. This pandemic has highlighted exactly how dangerous this globalisation is when a crisis hits. Anything we can do to help strengthen our local system and make ourselves more self-sufficient has to help us be more prepared for future crises. Our community garden naturally does this. It produces lots of local food, enabling us to ease our dependence on imports, reduce food miles and share excess with those in need. This feels good but our most important crop is in fact resilience - which feels great.
People have expressed many thanks for and opinions on Empty Common Community Garden during these times. Here are a few.
“From my point of view, I like the fact that, although this time is so weird, nature and the garden keep a similar schedule to last year and last century and provides a constant and a marker of time passed when so much else is on hold.” Nicola
“I love the community garden because it improves my physical and mental health. Getting outside in the fresh air, working with the Earth, with others around me is healing. I don't have a garden myself - I live in a flat. Besides this I am learning important skills in how to grow vegetables. I will use these skills in the future. They are so important to have as we may need to grow in small local gardens more and more in the future, as climate change challenges larger farms that cannot adapt as quickly.” Giulietta
“I often go down there as an escape from the world, and I always feel a weight lifting as I walk down the path towards the garden. It’s an oasis of peace, and a generous community of all sorts of lovely and interesting people.” Sophie
“During this extremely difficult time in my life Empty Common has very much kept me in touch for over five years with my local community, enabled me to work at my own pace, provided the help and support I've very much needed over these years and even earned me a reputation, in my better years, as 'a prime digger'. The recent development of a home delivery, by one of the gardening gang, of Empty Common's out-of-this world rhubarb has also been much appreciated.” Peter