GEM (Grown, Edible, Meaningful)


Principal Investigator: Ann Light
Co-investigators: Christina Welch
Collaborators: Leeds Love it Share It; Space2
Duration: From 2013 to 2014

The GEM project invited people to grow edible plants together to inspire reflection on environmental issues across cultures and faiths. Our team of researchers and community organisations wanted to know what different meanings growing food holds across different communities and to learn if this affects feelings towards the environment, ecological issues and other people.

We led planting workshops over the growing season of 2013, running a food growing festival and following up with interviews, featured in the ‘Sprouting Bonds’ booklet (Light et al 2014). We noted considerable diversity of participation in the festival, across age, gender, cultures and faiths.

Our results indicate that growing food inspires responses from the practical to the deeply spiritual. We were able to demonstrate how diverse cultures can meet in community growing, to embed, articulate and share cultural values and sustainable life choices. An additional finding was the enthusiasm with which people talked about land and plants left behind in other countries, pointing to the value of reflection on growing food in areas with much immigration.