The COVID-19 pandemic like pandemics before us is forcing us all to consider how precarious our way of life is. We have been so fortunate that life in the 21st century has been easier than ever, but convenience has come at a price. The global pandemic has revealed some cracks in our supply chains, our community systems like housing and employment and access to food.
International trade and modern transport systems have kept the supermarkets stocked with an abundance of food and other necessities that we can access 24/7. The lockdown of the world has put these convenience systems under stress with people resorting to panic buying and hoarding.
The pandemic has laid bare to the many weaknesses in the way we live. The convenience of accessing whatever we need whenever we want has come at a cost. We are now consuming more than we need and wasting more than we use.
With so many people experiencing fear, anxiety and social isolation, many want to get back to basics, to live a more sustainable and connected life that is in balance with each other and the environment. But is it self-sufficiency or community sufficiency we need during this crisis?
Self-sufficiency implies a person or organization needs little or no help from, or interaction with, others. In this new world, where systems are complex and interrelated, this way of thinking no longer makes sense. In reality we are social beings, we need human interactions and the opportunity to connect and trade with others for which we don’t or can’t produce for ourselves. We need to build community sufficiency for us become self-sufficient in times of crisis.
The only truly sustainable way to self-sufficiency is to have all our needs met is to do what has done for millennia; work with your community to be self-sufficient. When we work together, we create community sufficiency and build resilience that we can call on when we experience crisis’ like Covid19 and climate change.
Community sufficiency is made up of self-sufficient systems that build resilience like the transition movement, community gardens and permaculture. The responsibility for providing resources and services are shared with every member of the community. Community sufficiency is inclusive, it’s about sharing the abundance more equitably ensuring our vulnerable and disadvantaged are supported.
It was not until I shared an abundance of mandarins with Natasha that I realised how important community sufficiency is. The mandarins I shared with Natasha were the only fruit her daughter was going to have in her lunch box that week. Sallie took cuttings from my garden so she could start her own food garden for her young children. Community sufficiency not only meets material needs it provides friendship and connection. I have seen new friendships grow, young children know where their food comes from and a reduction in the purchase of new resources that are depleting our finite natural resources.
Spare Harvest was built on the premise of building community sufficiency; connection sharing food and garden resources in local communities across the world. Giving and taking to ensure everyone’s individual needs are met in a collective way.
Attempting self-sufficiency alone is overwhelming and perhaps even selfish. Refusing help from others would be exhausting and lonely. In reality educating yourself, growing your own food, doing your own repairs, build and making everything you need and providing your own healthcare is not possible.
We can have access to everything we need without having it all. Together we are stronger, giving when we can and receiving when we need to. What can you do to contribute to community sufficiency?