I recently stumbled upon a fascinating radio piece with Prince Charles and the Poet Laureate, Simon Armitage.
They were discussing vegetables, plants and nature. I was interested because earlier the same day I’d visited Greenaleigh Community Gardens to witness the wonderful progress they’ve made.
The programme reminded me about many things people raised on the Greenaleigh visit: helping children understand nature; involving the community; making best use of land to grow food and help others.
I’ve also recently been to the Food Pantry at Yardley Wood, Baptist Church and the Community Café, supported by the Active Well Being Society, in Druids Heath. These visits got me thinking about some issues associated with food and the environment.
Our whole approach has changed since the end of rationing in 1954 when ironically the diet of the entire nation is believed to have been at its most healthy. During and immediately after the war, allotments were in great demand because access to affordable, fresh food was associated with survival. Since then, we’ve become a throwaway society.
Availability of good food and better health must be part of the COP26 agenda.
Projects like the Community Gardens offer a chance for the young to mix with and learn from older members of the community about food, avoiding waste, simple cooking techniques, growing vegetables and tackling the throwaway culture.
I understand the passion people feel about climate change. I confess I’m more comfortable with youngsters learning through allotments and craftivism than strikes, breaking windows or disruption of public transport. Protest has its place but so do ventures like Greenaleigh, the Community Café or Food Pantry.
Environmental issues are interrelated. I want COP26 to be successful. I hope, in all the campaigning, there can be a place for positive local initiatives which make a difference.