Larder East

Money & Manure

On the 29th of March 2022 we invited supporters to hear our vision of an East Belfast where food is distributed equitably.  Researcher, Mary McManus also gave a presentation about Community Wealth Building and the difference it has made in places like Preston.

If you missed Mary, you can catch up here.

The day after our event, when shovelling horse manure for the Larder’s garden we were reminded that:

“wealth is like manure, when you pile it up it stinks; when you spread it around it grows.” 

We can confirm that the horse manure did stink that morning, but so does the wealth disparity we see the raw end of here at Larder>East.

From the leafy boulevards stretching on to Stormont Estate, to the rows of social housing in Inner-East, East Belfast has arguably more of a wealth problem than a poverty problem. While a surge of emerging hip and vibrant spaces in the East is positive and long overdue, it’s equally seen a surge in emergency food provision and destitution.  It could be easy to sit back and make the excuse that ‘this is just the way the world works’. The recent cost-of-living scandal has certainly seen an increase in a scarcity grab-it-while-you-can mindset, which does very little to encourage sharing among those with little or lots.

But we have an optimistic view of the wider E.Belfast neighbourhood. At Larder>East we more often have to encourage members to take more for their own shop and leave the restocking worries to us.  And we see no shortage of concerned business owners and better-off neighbours, wanting to offer support. The trouble here is the mechanisms that keep us all apart, namely charity, precarious work and a punitive social security system. Community Wealth Building and Mutual Aid over charity are the very disruptive strategies we need to create a happier neighbourhood for everyone.

The manure we shovelled that morning stopped stinking when we turned it over in our veg beds and helped us grow delicious salad leaves for the shop.  And with support from the wider community, we continue to spread our shared resources for the good of all our neighbours here in East Belfast.

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Making a choice between feeding your children and having a hot shower shouldn’t be happening in 2023. The work the Larder>East team have done in East Belfast is amazing, we couldn’t survive without them.

Lizzie, shopper since 2021

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