Crops NOT Shops: Growing the Mutual Millennium

Warren Draper – 17.02.21

Last month I suggested that there was good reason to believe that we were witnessing the birth of the ‘mutual millennium’. Austerity, socio-economic polarisation and the shuffling incompetence of the zombified neoliberal economy had already seen a slow and steady stream of grassroots community innovation as the wages and social securities of the poorest were diverted (stolen) to protect the interests of the wealthy. It is likely that this push towards autonomy would have continued to gain momentum anyway, but then the Covid-19 crisis hit and the process was accelerated in ways we could never have foreseen.

There has been a rapid re-emergence of self-help and mutual aid in our communities, with people coming together to support each other in ways which have put the government and local authorities to shame. One exciting project which has blossomed in these troubling times is Crops NOT Shops, who are helping to transform gardens and wasteland into plots to grow free, fresh, healthy food. It reminds me a lot of the Incredible Edible movement which launched in 2008. I met Pam and Mary of Incredible Edible back in 2010 and they advised that the best way to get started is to ignore the local authorities and just do it. Chay Godfree, founding member of Crops NOT Shops, shares their pioneer spirit:

I live in Southend-on-Sea Essex,” says Chay, “My life is and has always been about freedom. Freedom of expression, freedom from oppression and freedom from capital control on the self.”

Chay had spent his adult life working with community outreach groups, constantly engaging with grassroots youth initiatives. He says:

My main focus has always been self-reliance, sustainable resource management and land based research around the Resource-Based Economy network for localisation of resources and ecological regeneration.”

Read the rest of this piece here on Freedom News


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