We are entering one of the worst financial crises of the last few decades, with many people already feeling the squeeze of the cost of living crisis - and things are seeming as if they will only get worse in the coming months. While the cost of living goes up, the national insurance increase may mean that our take-home wage is also decreasing. UK households are facing yet more decisions on whether to heat their homes or eat dinner.
It’s hard to pin down exactly what the reasons are for this current crisis, but it’s safe to say that there are many intersecting issues leading to it. A recent series in the Guardian outlines some of the reasons that some basic essentials have risen in price over the last few months:
- The rising cost of pasta (from 55p to 70p for a 500g bag) is due to large scale droughts last summer across Canada where two thirds of the world's durum wheat grows
- The pandemic paid a large role in labour shortages and imposed restrictions on foreign workers, which has had a global effect on the production and harvesting of rapeseed and palm oil, used for many household essentials, particularly margarine (which has seen an increase of 27% since December)
- A pint of milk has increased from 28p per litre in 2020 to 35p this spring, due to many consequential factors of labour shortages, fuel increases, and the cost of fertiliser.
While this can be daunting to look at, with so many different factors that are all seemingly separate leading to the insecurity of one of the most basic needs for humans (food), it is also incredibly clear what the solutions to fix this are…
In its most basic form, it’s a radically transformed food system that works to benefit the farmers and growers, consumers, and the land on which the food grows. In a more practical sense, it means food grown locally on small-scale farms using climate-friendly techniques, fair wages for food providers, affordable and healthy food for people to eat, and community-owned initiatives to avoid money filling the pockets of exploitative corporations (including supermarkets).
Sound familiar? That’s because it’s exactly what we’re trying to achieve here at the Kindling Trust. For years we've been working to grow the organic food market by establishing a cooperatively-run veg box scheme, Veg Box People, while helping to strengthen communities and connect them with their food and the land on which it grows, through community events at our horticulture site in Stockport, Woodbank Community Food Hub. Most recently, as many of our supporters will know, we ran a Community Shares Campaign to buy a 100+ acre farm to use agroecology and organic methods to provide healthy, fresh food that is accessible to as many people across Greater Manchester as possible.
The Kindling Trust have always worked in a holistic way, tackling each point of the current food system to improve the system as a whole. We are committed to working with local farmers and growers and to support them in any way we can, whether by regularly purchasing their produce or by training up the next generation of growers. We ensure that in all our many projects we prioritise democratic ways of working (e.g. through the cooperative model) to ensure that our workers are treated fairly, and so that everything we do is to benefit the community and the people. We only ever buy, work with, and train up people to grow organic produce, and use as many wildlife-friendly methods of farming as possible, so that we can improve the biodiversity and the soil health of the land on which we work, and in turn have a lesser environmental impact.
In times of crisis, it is the community-focused systems that will be most resilient, whether that be a crisis of the cost of living, or the climate crisis. We are deeply committed to the work that we do in Greater Manchester to radically transform the local food systems, and we are forever grateful to all our supporters for continuing to stick with us and support our vital work which benefits many communities around this fantastic city. We hope that we can keep on growing our network of support and communities around Manchester so that we can continue the work that we do.
- To sign up for a veg bag and support the local food revolution, visit vegboxpeople.org.uk
- Find out how we're kindling a food revolution and organising a range of community-focused events by heading to our events page, where you can also register and buy tickets for our upcoming events: kindling.org.uk/EventBooking
- On the 12th June we're opening our gates to Woodbank Community Food Hub for Open Farm Sunday, to show you exactly how we're improving the food system in Manchester. Register for a tour of the site where you'll learn all about our many projects and how we grow not only delicious food, but healthy communities https://kindling.org.uk/event/open-farm-sunday-0