Greenhouse Pioneer: Sara Venn, Incredible Edible Network
Incredible Edible Bristol are part of the pioneering urban gardening movement, Incredible Edible, which first began in Todmorden in 2008. Led by the fantastic Sara Venn, they are inspiring people all over the City to take food production back into their own hands and believe that any piece of land has the potential to grow food – be it a curbside, your back garden or a spare corner in a park. To celebrate #WorldSoilDay today, we thought we would catch up with Sara to find out what drives and inspires her to make Bristol a greener space. Tell us, in 20 words or fewer, about Incredible Edible - what's your mission? Incredible Edible Bristol works with communities to make lost and unloved spaces productive and beautiful, and create food for free. What drives you? The knowledge that getting outside with the soil on your hands improves lives, gives people lost skills and creates an interest in land based work and opportunities, alongside a deep passion for food and gardens and people. But also a need to find a way forward to a kinder future both for people and planet. What is your greatest achievement to date? The garden we are creating in Bristol’s Bearpit is the garden of which I am most proud. Its social impact is extraordinary in that it remains intact and respected in one of Bristol’s most challenging spaces. What are the challenges you face? We always need more people to come along and get involved and sustaining ourselves is an ongoing challenge financially. But actually because we as an organisation, and I as an individual, very much doers we are very good at finding creative solutions to challenges! What are you working on that's getting you fired up and excited? Looking at the way we use public spaces is always challenging and exciting and that is a large part of what we do. We are beginning on a larger scale project around social housing areas that is particularly exciting right now. Where do you want to take Incredible Edible next? We are very keen to make impact in communities that are challenged and to support those communities to find their own voices around growing and food. What can we, as individuals, do to make a difference? Incredible Edible believes that the power of small actions will make a change once those actions become normalised. So I believe that making those small changes and talking about them to your friends and neighbours and encouraging them to join you will begin to make a real change - from individuals to communities and upwards, in a way that those in power will have to listen to. I would also say never be afraid to give something a go - be it growing a tomato plant or joining a community garden or just coming along to an Incredible Edible Bristol work party for a chat. It’s the first step to change that’s hardest to make but once that step is taken the rest is just natural! How is what you are doing inspiring change in others? It says that we can all affect some change, be it in our own lives or in our communities and across our city. A lot of what I do is just getting on with things, being active and supporting others to do that too. Can you recommend a life- or game-changing book for our readers? Not on the Label by Felicity Lawrence is frighteningly eye opening about our food system. What do you listen to when you're cooking dinner? It’s family time so we might have the TV on in the background but I’m far more likely to be chatting over the day than actively listening to anything. If I’m alone I’ll probably have the Channel 4 news on. What's the best advice you've ever been given? It’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission… Can you leave us with who'd be your Eco Hero? Ron Finley - gangster gardener and food activist extraordinaire! To hear from other Greenhouse Pioneers visit our blog or follow our twitter account or #WorldSoilDay.