Sunday, 9 June 2013

Villages for a Sustainable Future?

I was just reading that in Todmorden they were having a chicken map on the internet - where eggs were available for sale around the town, but not just that, all the nooks and crannies of council land and many gardens were being turned over to the growing of fruits and vegetables.  Even the herbs in planters on the railway station platforms can be picked for use for free.
In these times of credit crunch, just think about how much available land in villages that is public (parish council responsibility), and could be divided up for use as allotments for groups of houses for the growing of fruit,  vegetables and chickens?  Why do the trees on the recreation areas and parks have to be copper beech or other grand ornamental specimens?  Why not pear, apple cherry or plum, along with strawberries and raspberries?  I have seen many plain wooden fences or wire ones that could have soft fruits growing over them.
 The whole village (or other area) could become a vast orchard and vegetable plot.  Itc ould also stop/reduce the unnecessary and pointless grass cutting by the council workers or the private operators, as the locals would be tending it for free and cut the parish councils bills.  Manicured areas of grass are unproductive and expensive, especially in a time of financial hardship and of increasing food prices world-wide.  It could also improve the local shops' turn-over as people would not need to drive out as often to stock up on frozen fruit/vegetables that are available locally.  They would be less likely to drive to shop when they only needed a few extra items that wouldn't justify the expense of fuel usage.  The local butcher would certainly improve his business.
If the patches/ plots were leased to groups of houses with the same post codes on the basis that any food grown was available for anyone to pick in quantities required for their immediate family's needs for that day, it could improve community spirit and neighbourly awareness, sharing, and give the long-term unemployed something to use as work experience or a reason for the social security department to continue paying the money instead of insisting on evidence of reading newspapers and making job applications when they don't produce results.  These people could eventually (with the parish council) be employed as permanent agricultural workers at probably less cost to the exchequer than the current grass cutters, because the overall bills to the country for fuel would be reduced, even if the food is available for free.
What about theft and greedy people?  If this occurs all over the country the point of theft would be reduced.  There are those who like others to do the work and they reap the benefits, but the embarrassment of taking excess today when it is still free tomorrow should be enough to make the culprits social pariahs and a source of mocking down the pub.
Speaking of pubs why not set up a microbrewery there and reduce the transport costs for beer?  I like the idea of the courses being run at by Brewlab at Sunderland University.  The only things a parish should import are things it can't produce.
I think we should rebuild the villages of England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland and reinvent them for a sustainable future as co-operatives, making the parish councils relevant to the villagers, and the places of worship (and pubs) the places for social activities and celebrating the passing of the seasons and great events. In fact, it should be an integrated system.  We shouldn't have to struggle along as individuals, but succeed together.

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