…we need to invite, encourage, and celebrate the wildlife in our gardens. A recent report by Buglife and Kent Wildlife Trust confirms what we all have observed (or rather, have not observed) on our windscreens and number plates: insect numbers have declined dramatically. My friend drives to Scotland each year in August. In a Landrover. Yet barely any insects grace his screen, even though he drives conservatively, and makes the journey over the course of a few days to enjoy the pilgrimage.
My difficulty at the moment is that despite a totally hands-off approach to gardening, the surrounding landscape is so unrelenting for any species trying to make a home, I simply don’t seem to have the baseline populations to use what I am offering. Here is my garden, and my immediate surroundings:
We can all help our wildlife as doesn’t need to specifically be insects; it all “counts” in our gardens and outdoor spaces, but it does take observation and commitment, and action. I listened to an excellent podcast about growing food on underutilised common land, meaning these spaces which have formerly been mown and sprayed now are home to community food spaces, known as the Incredible Edible movement. Linking food growing to wildlife habitat is surely the best way to conserve and engage, as the whole system of food production and land awareness needs a complete reset. People become so detached from nature and where food comes from, and having a land-sharing approach would help so many facets of society.
One of the problems brought up in the podcast highlighted the fact that families or individuals on a low income not only struggle to afford food, but there is little incentive to cook or prepare fresh meals. Consequently the siren call of the takeaway is an inevitable solution to a quick, easy, tasty meal with no washing up, no oven, no need for pans and baking trays. Preparing meals has become something to watch on social media, not a basic skill. Children not only aren’t taught home economics in schools, but nor is it given any sort of priority, despite the absolute necessity of something so fundamental to our health and ability to take care of ourselves.
Another great listen, if you’re interested in regenerative agriculture, is the Farm Gate podcast…I particularly enjoyed the episode with Josiah Meldrum of Hodmedod’s, one of my favourite places to shop. There are so many good and interesting foodstuffs, and – more importantly – recipes to show how quality plant protein is easy to access in a delicious and nutritious way. I also have a veg box from my local CSA scheme as well as a delivery from Abel & Cole. I prioritise food over all other expenditure so although it is expensive, relatively speaking, it’s a daily treat to have such amazing raw materials to work with.