She is Sourced - a social initiative to enhance and nurture women's careers in food growing and sustainability through funding for education and work experience in London.
I am a young woman on a mission to create a world in which all life is able to thrive through regenerative practices and systems that work with Nature, not against it - for the benefit of all species who inhabit planet Earth.
Over the next four months, instead of working 40 hours a week at the farmshop where I currently serve organic food and produce, I will volunteer at different organisations within food and sustainability to gain the experience needed to tackle many of our upcoming crisis'. Through this journey I will acquire new skills in vegetable, fruit and herb cultivation, urban beekeeping, designing and building food forests, and visiting local schools to teach about sustainable food through an educational charity. If my request for the full funding to cover for the whole four months is successful, after the season, I plan to apply for bigger grants to extend She is Sourced to support other women in London who wish to gain experience and education in food growing and regeneration. The money I receive will pay me the London Living Wage from now until October.
So, why do I feel the call to do this?
Well, in a nutshell...Intensive, industrialised mono-crop farming is a leading cause of climate change, lifestyle diseases, desertification & loss of plant and animal biodiversity. Nutrient-rich. locally sourced and regeneratively grown food, on the other hand, has the power to heal us and reconnect us to each other, the Earth, the seasons and the creatures that we share this beautiful planet with.
In becoming a Regenerative Food Educator, I will teach others about sustainable ways of working with the land that are life-enhancing, whilst helping transform our destructive food system into one that ensures long-term health and well-being for people and the planet.
To continue living here as a species, our relationship towards how we grow, cultivate and eat food would need to evolve into a much more holistic paradigm; which requires education and nurturance to ensure that people are supported and empowered (internally and externally - through knowledge and infrastructure) to take control and care of their individual health and the well-being of the environment in which we depend on.
Food is what we all have in common and I believe that transitioning into an Agrarian Age has the power to address many of our current global social crises (climate change, food poverty, obesity, disease and mental health) whilst connecting us all to one another regardless of gender, religion, age, colour or status.
Acclaimed environmental filmmaker and activist John D. Liu has called the restoration and regeneration of the Earth's living systems "the great work of our time." At the same time, the World Wildlife Fund says that I belong to "the last generation that can save nature."
In the middle of a bustling modern city, I have decided to take up this challenge by volunteering five days a week at a range of farms, charities, social enterprises and community allotments, in order to deepen my knowledge about how we humans can live in greater harmony with Nature through our relationship with food.
My journey to this point began at the end of 2017, whilst studying for a BSC in acupuncture at University and working for an organic food company part-time, It was here that I got to see first hand how complex it is to source food grown sustainably around the world. I worked with cocoa beans from Madagascar and Venezuela, and came to really understand and appreciate the long route and journey those beans must travel to make the chocolate bars that we eat in the UK.
The experience really brought home to me how, particularly in cities, so many of us are completely disconnected from the roots and sources of our food and how we (sometimes me included!) very often consume without a second thought as to the impacts of our culinary choices, where the produce has come from and how it was grown. From this, I withdrew from my studies in holistic medicine and pledged to make it my life's work to help fix the broken food system, which is currently deeply unsustainable.
Over the past 21 months, I have put my career in holistic medicine on the back burner in order to gain a wide range of experiences within the food industry: at an organic chocolate factory, as a trainee chef in a Spanish restaurant, on an organic farm in the Scottish Highlands, for a social enterprise fighting food poverty in London and for one of the UK's most sustainable farms - where I currently work as a Team Member and Sustainability Champion in one of their London farmshops.
The hours have often been long. With work, daily travel and volunteering combined, I do around 60 hours a week. At times I have struggled, financially and energy-wise, but I have gained a solid start in the industry. Realistically, however, I have only scratched the surface of what I must learn about growing food in a regenerative way, which is a critical skill for any human being hoping to thrive in the future.
Whilst I know that I am very privileged to be working at a top notch, very high-quality organic food company, which I have thoroughly enjoyed - it is a low wage job with no career progresions in food growing and I have very little energy or finances for advancing my education in regenerative food cultivation and advocacy work. I understand that we all have to start somewhere (at the bottom of the industry), but we are running out of time.
As a trained holistic (massage) therapist from being a teenager and an advocate for woman's well-being, I am fully aware of the importance of having a balanced and harmonious lifestyle in harmony with my menstrual cycle whilst engaged in helping heal people and the planet. I have reached the point where I can not continue to work full-time whilst volunteering on my days off, I am spending a lot of time in working in a job that isn't furthering my education, but I can not afford to get the experience I need otherwise.
I'll say it again... time is running out fast! There are millions upon billions of people right now who are unconsciously destroying our only home through a lack of awareness towards our food choices, or due to not having another choice due to poverty. We need many Regenerative Food Educators who have experienced lots of seasons in growing and who have much practise creating sustainable, local food chains.
This is where you (may) come in to it... if you feel to!
By supporting She is Sourced, you will help me to accelerate my quest towards becoming an Regenerative Food Educator.
The organisations I will be volunteering at are:
School Food Matters
School Food Matters campaigns for fresh sustainable food in schools and promotes food education through cooking, growing and visits to farms. It's mission is to ensure that every child enjoys fresh sustainable food at school and understands where their food comes from.
I will be here one day a week in which I will gain experience in sustainable food education in London, as well as helping cook and grow food for for children in schools.
Sutton Community Farm
Sutton Community Farm is a community-owned farm. It was started in 2010 in response to a community need with the aim to increase access to fresh, healthy, sustainable food and provide a shared space for people to cultivate skills, get exercise and make new friends.
The farm sits on a beautiful 7.1 acre smallholding with views towards the skyline of central London. I will be here every Tuesday as a seasonal 'Sustainable Farming Assistant'.
Progress works with inner city foodg growingacross ten boroughs of London. They
have mechanisms in place to get bodies of work like events and initiatives, achieved with
no cost to the management or the residents.
Their aim is to nurture empowerment and create common knowledge of well-being though organic food/plant growth, public art, land-redevelopment and community resilience.
I will continue volunteering here regularly (most weeks) to gain experience in community food growing, urban farming and regenerating derelict public spaces into food gardens.
BeeUrban is a honeybee-centric social enterprise based in Kennington, South London, which aims to positively influence the urban environment through supporting local people and promoting positive, ecologically sound practice around urban greening, building, farming and particularly bee-keeping. I will be volunteering here every Thursday to learn how to enhance and regenerate biodiversity through bee-keeping and sustainable living.
Child's Hill Allotment Society
This is my local allotment which has existed for many years. I already volunteer here on Monday afternoon and will continue to do so alongside food-growing mentor Sally.
I am certain that this 4-month period will give me a solid foundation in the principles and practices of of regenerative food production within a complex urban environment, and empower me to initiate or support similar initiatives in the future.
With the funding, I am flexible in volunteering for other charities within growing food and sustainability that I come across (aside from the ones I have listed above), I will try and get as much experience as possible throughout the season - I also hope to visit a few farms and horticulture enterprises outside of London within the four month period too. All volunteering experiences will cover a full volunteer day, five days a week. Please note that the organisations listed above may change, depending on if I feel I am learning enough and the working conditions are fair.
Through this initiative, I also plan to make connections with organisations to further my long-term project 'The Regeneration School' - in collaboration with Conscious Living UK, which will be an online educational platform to educate every-day people (who wouldn't have the knowledge otherwise) on organic and sustainable farming, regenerative food practices and enhancing biodiversity. My vision is for this to be a community-led, collaborative enterprise with many different international organisations involved within regeneration - led by a team of Regenerative Educators.
Future plans for She is Sourced
If I am able to secure full funding for this initiative, I will apply to to larger funders to further support other women who are wanting to pursue food growing education and/or horticulture experience in London.
All voluntary days will be signed and authorised by the manager of each organisation.
Funding will be taken on a week by week basis of LLW, I will continue with the project for as long as I receive funding but the project may terminate if I do not receive the full requested funding.
The funding will cover five days of work experience at London Living Wage (LLW) for four months, with one holiday week in August.
In my spare time, I also write for Sublime Magazine about a wide range of sustainable topics. Please see my latest article 'Supply Change' here.