Event: Day Conference: Spiritualities, Gardens, and Communities:
Gardening Ourselves - Conditioning, Cultivating and Harvesting: Raising Spirits and Growing Places.

Venue: Sanctuary, Augustine United Church, 41 George IV Bridge, Edinburgh, EH1 1EL.
Date: Saturday 23 November 2019.
Time: Registration: 9.30am-10am. Day Conference: 10am-4.35pm.
Event Description: We will discuss Spiritualities, Gardens and Communities: Gardening Ourselves - Conditioning, Cultivating and Harvesting: Raising Spirits and Growing Places.


EICSP Day Conference: Saturday 23 November 2019.
Spiritualities, Gardens, and Communities:

Gardening Ourselves - Conditioning, Cultivating, and Harvesting:
Raising Spirits and Growing Places.

Registration: 9.30am-10am. Day Conference: 10am-4.35pm.

Venue: Sanctuary, Augustine United Church,
41 George IV Bridge, Edinburgh, EH1 1EL.

Edinburgh International Centre for Spirituality and Peace, EICSP
Scottish Charity, SC038996, www.eicsp.org


10am-10.20am: Introduction and Welcome: Ian Wight (Chair).

10.20am-10.40am: Plenary address: Graham Bell, Permaculture Scotland (Honorary Chair).

Spirituality and Gardening.

I will talk about what spirituality and gardening mean to me and point out the benefits and learning from spirituality, food, and wildlife coming together in gardens and gardeners.  I will also touch on gardening’s benefits for mental health.  I will not preach any religion. My experience is that you just have to create the right habitat and then the right things happen - a philosophy which applies to my teaching as much as my garden. What I offer is a certain gateway to an amazing future; easy to digest, clear and in simple language that everyone can understand. I can’t empower anyone; people can only empower themselves. But what I can do is offer the space, the knowledge and the insights where this will become apparent. My hope is that my presentation will afford all the direction you may need around gardening, to take your life forward for personal gain and the good of the planet.
BIO: Graham Bell is an internationally known and respected teacher of Permaculture and several underlying disciplines including Forest Gardening and Food Preservation. He has dedicated his working life to helping others achieve the skills to live sustainably. His reputation is built on thirty years’ experience and having worked on five continents and in many different climates and social conditions. Currently, he is Chair of Permaculture Scotland and the UK Education Working Group.
Graham is the author of two books on Permaculture (The Permaculture Way and The Permaculture Garden) and a very large number of articles. His knowledge of plants and trees is legendary. Having taught from the Arctic Circle down to Middle Eastern deserts and sub-Saharan Africa his knowledge and experience are adaptable to most situations. He is primarily interested in helping others in confidence and self-reliance with their own work.
His own home garden (at Coldstream in the Scottish Borders) is a mere 800 sq metres (0.08 hectares) which produces 1.25 tonnes of food a year (pro-rata 16 tonnes a hectare) 500 trees and 5000 plants for sale, half the household’s energy needs, a soft living room and an amazing teaching space which welcomes (and feeds) a thousand visitors every year from all over the planet (literally).  It is the longest established intentional food forest garden in Britain. Visitors include an amazing array of wildlife including thirty-five resident species of bird, another twenty who come on a daily basis, just for lunch, and twenty who come on their holidays. 

10.40am-10.55am: Discussion.

10.55am-11.15am: Plenary address: Stuart Mackenzie.

How a few packets of seed make a difference at an Edinburgh Care Home.

The creation of a simple vegetable patch has enhanced the lives of the residents at Inch View Care Home. They now enjoy fresh food, fresh air and share an interest in watching the garden grow.

BIO: Stuart started volunteering in care homes in Edinburgh during 2005. Having spent his working life in IT, he was able to help older people to access the internet and use computers in a variety of ways. This ranged from using email and Skype to even recording a best-selling album. When a new care home opened, he was asked to apply his gardening expertise to develop and enhance the grounds. Stuart has had an allotment for 25 years and therefore plenty of experience, as well as spare seeds.

11.15am-11.30am: Discussion.

11.30am-11.50am: Tea/coffee break.

11.50am-12.10: Plenary address: Steve Shaw (Saranga Thakur das)

Peace and Prosperity (The Hare Krishna Movement’s agricultural policy and its role in farm community development past, present, and future).

I hope to present some background Hindu theology, and talk about: the founder of the modern hare Krishna movement, A.C. Bhaktivedanta; his influences on and views about agriculture; the work of Krishna Eco Farm in Lesmahagow, South Lanarkshire; and my personal journey - getting involved with the commune, being a monk for 8 years, and working as a volunteer garden team leader.

BIO: HG Saranga Thakur das, BA Phil, is a part-time garden team leader at Krishna Eco Farm. He is a member of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness and volunteers with Food For Scotland free vegan food distribution. He is a resident at the Karuna Bhavan meditation retreat centre in Lesmahagow, Scotland. He is married with one daughter.

12.10am-12.25pm: Discussion.

12.25pm-12.45pm: Plenary address: Evie Murrray (Love), CEO/Founder, Leith Community Crops in Pots.

There will be no miracles here, but everything is going to be alright: cultivating resilience in an age of crisis and breakdown.

(To understand the title references, see these photographs taken at the Edinburgh Gallery of Modern Art:https://www.likealocalguide.com/media/cache/1b/8f/1b8fd4f844b7bcac21f96c92d38a89d8.jpghttps://media-cdn.tripadvisor.com/media/photo-s/0e/20/de/e8/facade-du-musee.jpg)

We are probably experiencing the frantic death throes of neoliberalism. There are many damaged and traumatised people in our deeply unequal and seemingly increasingly polarised society. Gardening and engagement with nature can play a role in healing both the brutalized biosphere and the brutalized spirits of many of neoliberalism’s victims. However, setting up and running community growing projects is no easy and instant panacea, and we have to start from where we are: working in a divided society full of troubled souls. It requires great perseverance – Leith’s motto, appropriately – to keep going in the face of apathy, negativity and sometimes downright hostility (often, ironically, from those who stand most to gain from what one is trying to achieve).

In the 21st century, the ‘A kent his father/Who does she think she is - the Queen of Sheba?’ attitude sadly remains an obstacle. Bringing people together to grow plants and engage with nature and each other can at times seem a thankless, disheartening and lonely task, but I still believe that it is worth it. I have no perfect recipe for resilience, but offer some thoughts and questions based on my experience (When should you cut your losses? How do you protect yourself? How do you stay focused on the big picture?) My talk aims to stimulate discussion rather than offer a neat set of miracle solutions. At the heart of what we do is giving children meaningful contact with nature, and promoting the principles of food sovereignty. Tackling climate change, deprivation, and mental and physical health problems, flows from this.’

BIO: A Leither to the core, Evie has always appreciated her neighbourhood’s positive points while being aware of its not-so-good bits. She trained as a drugs counsellor. Not long after she was made redundant she found herself responsible for two foster children from a difficult background (as well as her own youngsters). The kids were soon climbing the walls of her small urban flat. Evie was distressed about their indoor existence as well as being broadly concerned about the food system and environment. With a few plant pots and lots of imagination, she transformed the barren concrete communal backyard into a thriving green oasis, a haven for pollinating insects and curious young minds. The children’s diet, behaviour and even academic performance improved. Others were inspired by Evie’s example, and she launched Leith Community Crops in Pots in 2013.

The charity works in local schools, from nursery to secondary level (with an emphasis on primary), has pioneered the transformation of abandoned common good land into an ‘urban croft’ (endorsed by the Crofting Federation), and its Climate Challenge Fund-supported ‘Croft Carbon College’, an environmental and wellbeing education project, is now in its second year, having smashed its first-year targets.

Leith Community Crops in Pots is also a partner in a 21-school project in Malawi, has won the Youth & Education Category of the Nature of Scotland Awards and was a finalist in the ‘Engaging Scotland’ category of this year’s SEPA VIBES awards. The charity is currently campaigning for the concept of ‘restorative climate justice’ to be widely recognised, as well as for a strong Good Food Nation Bill.

12.45pm-1pm: Discussion.

1pm-2.15pm: Lunch.

2.15pm-2.35pm: Plenary address: Judy Wilkinson.

Allotments - A place that nurtures and transforms.

In the present times, with people scared, fearful and seeking to suppress change, we can find peace, joy, and happiness on our allotments. They can provide the benefits of an individual garden together with social support and community growing for the common good. In this presentation I will explore, through short readings and poems, how allotments: connect plot-holders with the earth and the cycle of the seasons; provide a sanctuary of physical and spiritual sustenance, and afford a way to ‘breath with the Cosmos’. Following recent gardening experiences, I may also touch on the political education gardening affords – via the bullies, opportunists, and take-over bids, but also the nurturing, companionship, and support that ‘plants’ give each other.  Nature will overcome all, and in the end, create harmony.

BIO: Judy Wilkinson has tended her allotment in the west end of Glasgow for over forty years. It has been a sanctuary from which she has gained food, wellbeing, companionship and spiritual growth. Awareness of these benefits has led her to write about allotments and to campaign at the local and national level - through the Glasgow Allotments Forum and the Scottish Allotments and Gardens Society - for land and support so that everybody in Scotland, who wishes, can cultivate, harvest and engage with their own patch of earth. She practices Tai Chi and the philosophy of Lao Tzu ‘Tao Te Ching’.

2.35pm-2.50pm: Discussion.

2.50pm-3.10pm: Plenary address: Fiona Crombie.

Growing hope! Exploring the benefits of therapeutic gardening with survivors of Torture with complex PTSD.

Healing Neighbourhoods and Freedom from Torture have a long history of using horticulture and therapeutic gardening opportunities with survivors of torture. Gardening is an activity where the language is not paramount, gardens exist in some way in most cultures and can bridge both language and culture. Our garden group provides an opportunity for service users to come together with a shared sense of purpose to focus on having fun and looking after nature and the local environment. This promotes recovery, through integration and rehabilitation, through the development of a healthy body, mind, and spirit.

BIO: Fiona Crombie, Clinical Services Manager, is a qualified Social Worker and Family and Systemic Psychotherapist who worked firstly in Child Protection, before working in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services for 15 years, both in In-Patient Units and in the community. Her background with refugees stems from working early in her career with Vietnamese refugees, for Ockenden International, and now with Freedom from Torture since September 2018. She has a management role overseeing the clinical service, holds a small case-load, and project manages the Healing Neighbourhoods integration and rehabilitation arm of the service in Glasgow, where our therapeutic garden project lies.

3.10pm-3.25pm: Discussion.

3.25pm-3.45pm: Plenary address: Pam Whittle CBE, Honorary VP, RCHS (The Caley).

Restoration and Regeneration: A new chapter in the life of Saughton Park, Edinburgh.

A quick look at the history and restoration of Saughton Park and the role of The Caley (Royal Caledonian Horticultural Society).  A place of beauty, active engagement, learning, peace, and joy.

BIO: A life-long amateur gardener Pam is passionate about the benefits of gardening, in particular to health and well-being. Before retiring at the end of 2008 Pam was Director of Public Health & Health Improvement for the Scottish Government.  She has continued to be actively involved in a range of activities and issues, and was President of The Royal Caledonian Horticultural Society (The Caley) from 2011 to 2016, remaining as Honorary Vice President.  Her current main focus is on supporting the restoration of Saughton Park, a partnership between The City of Edinburgh Council and The Royal Caledonian Horticultural Society. She revels in sharing the joy and benefits of gardening with anyone and everyone!

3.45pm-4pm: Discussion.

4pm-4.20pm: Plenary address:  Paul Masser.

Deep Agroecology and the Ethics of the Forest Garden.

Agroecology is an approach to food production based on the science of complex adaptive systems, and traditional and local knowledge, rather than reductionist science and exterminist monocultures. Following Arne Naess’s distinction between ‘shallow’ and ‘deep’ ecology, a ‘deep’ understanding of agroecology involves relational ethics of care and interdependence, that is incompatible with the instrumental rationality that still frames most discussions of food and farming. Permaculture is a worldwide movement for ecological and cultural regeneration which embodies such a relational ethic. From its origins in 1970s Australia, one of its central ideas has been the food forest or forest garden, a perennial polyculture that mimics the ecology of a mid-succession woodland, which gives a tantalizing hint of a possible post-industrial future.

BIO: Paul trained in archaeology and worked for more than 20 years as a field archaeologist and heritage consultant until growing awareness of the climate crisis prompted a change of direction. Since 2016 he has completed an MSc in Environment, Culture, and Society while also engaging with Permaculture and exploring practical ways of building resilience to climate change through community-based food systems. He is currently working with Edible Estates developing a community growing project, ‘Craigmillar Home Farm’, and mapping food sustainability initiatives in and around Edinburgh with Transition Edinburgh and Edible Edinburgh. Paul also co-facilitates the Permaculture Community Classroom.

4.20pm-4.35pm: Discussion.

4.35pm: Closure.

Spiritualities and Gardens

NB: There will be no refund if you cancel your booking.

Cost: £10/£8 (Concessions)/£3 (Students). For a Registration Form:
Contact: Neill Walker, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 0131 331 4469.

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