On being part of a community

Canalside is a community hub like no other locally. It is intrinsically creative and nourishing. When I see people of all ages and abilities volunteering in the fields and polytunnels, producing the food that keeps so many households fed, it offers me hope for the future, that there IS a future. Canalside works wonders for my mental health. When I come to Canalside, I feel the pressure of time and worries slip away. The land and community here has a quality like no other – it grounds me. I feel ‘held’ by the space and the society that has been built at Canalside, its values, its vision, the generosity, kindness and commitment of everyone involved. A haven, a sanctuary and an antidote to the world ‘outside’.

F, May 2024


I have gained enormous enjoyment being able to develop my performances as a clown. I love the idea that I can offer free entertainment to the young children of parents who are members. In the future I hope to develop performance as a puppeteer with my puppet theatre.

C, May 2024


I love being part of a diverse, ethical, intentional community committed to supporting local organic fruit, veg and nut production and developing resilience in our food community and ourselves I feel connected, nurtured, encouraged and well-fed in mind, body and spirit I feel enheartened to live simply and authentically and remain committed to climate action and justice and not give up hope I value the conversations and support from other members and the opportunities to introduce others to Canalside and The Willows Project eg Open Farm Sunday, Summer Party and Apple Day I appreciate learning from others and generous sharing of foraging knowledge, veg growing experience, recipes, Kombucha cultures etc I am deeply grateful for all the time, hard work and myriad jobs done to nurture and safeguard this precious community and strongly believe that Community is as important as the Fruit &Veg I would fully endorse a paid Community Engagement role to strengthen, nurture, communicate and extend this vital part of CSA resilience I live with constant chronic pain and Canalside has been vital in managing mental and physical health challenges and avoiding social isolation and exclusion I have been wonderfully supported through personal challenges, grief and the exhaustion of caring for elderly parents. I really value nature based activities and Green therapy and outdoor-based social opportunities

G, April 2024


When I first found Canalside I was pleased to be able to access delicious seasonal organic locally grown veg – thereby reducing food miles, chemical pollution and also eating seasonally. To begin with I was in full time work and struggled to access the social aspects except at weekends. Evening collection times being more social would have been helpful in getting to know other members, thereby making access to other community aspects easier. Since stopping work I have become much more involved – with volunteering with the willows and the education project, and also getting to know the growers through volunteering as a mentor. This has led to much greater involvement with the wider staff team and the community. Although I have plenty of other activities in my life, the work at Canalside is hugely valuable to me. Canalside is a brilliant place with wonderful ideals, which chime with my beliefs in how to achieve a better society – against many difficult odds. The strength of the staff team in maintaining the values, and in striving to achieve greater involvement of its members is exemplary. The opportunities for supporting individuals and families in terms of education, mental and physical health, reducing isolation and supporting philosophical ideals are great. With additional resources and funding they could reach even more of the community. I’m proud to be part of the Canalside community – and have very jealous friends and family who are too far away to access it and have nothing similar nearby!

C, April 2024


My whole family has their own connection to the farm and people in their own right. We have woven our lives in to this area and Canalside is like an ever present part of that, it is the space where I am nourished physically and spirituality. I have shared moments with my community, for my community and by my community all thanks to this beautiful community hub. I feel truly grateful for the stewardship it takes to make this possible.

S, April 2024


To be in community with other members seem to automatically ensure that they are “good” people, that we already have something as important as food and where it comes from in common. I’m a shy person, and, already know quite a few people from the community so coming to the summer social, for example, is a joy in terms of connection. It’s my main reason for volunteering on the stalls at festivals too, that sense of connection with like-minded people.

D, April 2024


Also: …on being a produce share member

…on volunteering at the farm

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