Thanks to Dr Khesh Sidhu, public health specialist who invited us from Get-Growing to a cross departmental consultation meeting on the potential health benefits of community growing.
Society is facing some key challenges, economic contraction, escalating food and energy prices, and massive public sector spending cuts. Added to that we have an explosion in depression and mental health issues, obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes caused by too much processed foods and sedentary lifestyles. It is not a happy picture and with declining resources to address these issues some fundamental questions need to be asked.
I think the key points and ideas that flowed from the discussion is that there is an urgent need for a joined up approach to addressing this issues. The bigger picture for World energy is not bright and we can expect to see prices rise significantly, especially if the global economy picks up momentum again. We also know that historically the price of food is closely tied to the price of energy and escalating costs of food will compound the problems significantly.
Community growing has big future!
It as apparent that a significant growth in the local food sector is required.. for reasons of sustainability and reducing stress on the planetary systems, food miles etc.. but more locally and significantly for communities here we need to enlarge this sector substantially and in a community participatory way as a means to address the health issues identified by the NHS public health sector.
Getting communities growing will at least begin to make healthier eating options more available and affordable for individuals and increased levels of physical activity will also address some of the obesity and blood pressure issues and of course people working together doing something positive and meaningful, like growing food, composting, cooking and and distributing the produce will also address the isolation and underemployment for individuals which is often a significant driver for depression and other manifestations of mental illness.