Lin Scrannage reflects on the continuing local agenda after last summer's highly successful Presteigne Food Trail
I know that what is happening to the banking system at the moment is currently focusing peoples' attention, but it looks like it is set to come crashing down like a pack of cards (for those who haven't yet got their heads around fractional reserve banking and how our world has got caught up in the greed of it all, ''Zeigeist Addendum'' explains it well - one of the Zeitgeist movies - free to download). If and when the SHTF, then what? It's all very well having set up a local money system but you can't eat money.
Look outside, at what is happening to our summer weather patterns. The effects of change in the gulf stream are upsetting our anticipated food harvests. We are into July and the only thing growing at the moment are potatoes: it is wet and humid - perfect for blight. A plague of slugs and snails are eating everything, soft fruit is rotting, aphids are destroying the new growth on all the fruit trees. There will be no spare honey from my bees again this year, and that’s just my garden!! What is happening to commercial food crops at the moment? How are organic growers coping? Things are out of balance and will keep on getting worse. So what do we do - carry on importing foodstuffs from around the world, putting pressure on their water supplies etc?
I think that, instead of transferring our energy away to another issue like money, we should really focus in on food and micro energy supply. These are basic things that we all need and cannot live without (if push comes to shove money is only a concept anyway - it is not necessary for survival), We live in an area surrounded with farms - are we talking to the people who are custodians of the land? Do we know what they do, what they grow, how they use the land? What are their markets? How does their business make a living? Could they be persuaded to supply locally? Could we set up another CSA project? There is land on Broadaxe owned by Welsh Government sitting undeveloped for years now: would they allow us to set up a market garden until such time as they need it? What are all the people who had a job at the factory doing now? What were their skills?
The really big question, in the short term, for me is ..........how do we work together? How do we reach consensus about what really matters in people's lives? How can we focus our energy together to make meaningful change?
The Food Trail was an amazing day, in spite of all that could have gone wrong, simply because there was a clear vision, and we worked hard and held on to that. That energy could be carried forward into something remarkable and long-term, and I'm not talking about a food festival: I'm talking about a local food system that could support us in the future - employing local people, supplying local shops and schools. And a local energy system: Presteigne in former times had water, gas and electric companies. God knows, technology has moved on since then, but we seem to lack the entrepreneurial vision and the passion that was around in the 19th century. But we all need to agree about what the most important thing to focus on is: identify skills and work together, and really connect to our partners in Kington and Knighton (who, for all we know, might be having similar thoughts!)