local food column

One root cause of today’s environmental crises is our growing disconnection from nature, and with this ways of living that cannot be supported by the earth’s resources. Our dominant economic system doesn’t reflect the fact that we live and operate within ecosystems and are therefore reliant on the health of our earth. This scenario is very much relevant to food where true costs of production are not reflected in the price products are sold e.g. unsustainable and unhealthy food is often cheaper than more sustainable options.

Calls for us to ‘reconnect to nature’ (and live within the earth’s planetary boundaries) have been growing louder. These calls come from both academics and civil society and the growing environmental youth movement around the world. However answers to ‘how we re-connect?’ come in all shapes and forms.

Scotch Quarry community garden in Lancaster has been exploring the 8Shields route to re-connection and hosted an excellent weekend course on ‘regrowing nature-connected communities’. I was lucky enough to attend and be part of a group that explored how the 8 shields “Connection Model” can be used to increase our ‘aliveness’, grow healthy group-cultures and bring out earth-care in people. During two sunny days we met and explored the woodland community at Scotch Quarry through games, sharing circles, songs and other outdoor activities. In doing this we learnt how to better interact with the space and each other.

A couple of activities stood out for me, and I pledged to keep practising them on a daily basis whilst also sharing them with a wider community – including you!

The ‘sit spot’ was a favourite of mine as it is so simple and yet so beneficial- especially when stories from the experience are shared with family and friends. You literally find a spot outside (in your garden, in the middle of a park, in a local woodland etc) and sit, or lie, in it on a regular basis. In sitting, you open up all your senses: What can you see? What can you smell and taste in the air? How does the spot feel? What can you hear? How do these things change on a daily basis – through the seasons and years?

In sitting and watching, inquisitive observation is encouraged through asking questions: Why is that leaf so green? Why is that bird shrieking loudly? Why do I find the small bird chatter more beautiful than the crow’s caws? Why is that bee not going to that flower? What is a bee!? How does it fly so fast?

In asking questions (rather than seeking answers), my thoughts opened up and my wonder for the world around me increased.

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