In Ireland over 700,000 people are 'at-risk-of-poverty', over 1,000,000 people are suffering with material deprivation, and 277,000 people are in constant poverty*. These figures combined mean that over 32% of the population is at risk of poverty or social exclusion. Four years into recession, and with added austerity measures, many people are suffering. Hard working familes are finding themselves in the position of not being able to find any work, and as a result, apathetic electricity companies are removing their supply, banks are kicking people out of their homes, and the government is cutting everyones weekly budget. However, at the same time, the price of petrol is on the rise, at the day of writing the price of petrol is 159.3 euros per liter. This forces the price of most daily commodities up and up, until people are hanging financially by a fingernail.
Corners for Ireland has been established to ease these problems for people and families who are increasingly needy. Our motto, idea and goal, is a simple concept found in the bible- Leviticus 23:22 "When you reap the harvest of your land you shall not reap the very corners of your field nor gather the gleanings of your harvest. You are to leave them for the needy and the stranger..."
We believe that people themselves are the answer to financial crisis and poverty. In 2010 there were 139,828 farms in Ireland. All farms have waste, even with the modern combined harvesters there is always a handful of carrots or turnips left behind. Imagine how many people could be fed if those farmers pledged to donate just the leftovers of their produce? What about households, imagine if every household donated that tin of food in the corner of their cupboard, how many people would be fed?
We want to start a community revolution, it begins with farmers, groups, charities, families and churches gathering and giving away their 'corners' to the needy. Think about it. Imagine you lived in a community that had a 'way of community' which looked after even the least in the area. The next time you ran into serious difficulties, you wouldn't need to be so stressed and panicked, you would know that there is a local support system that would help you out. Imagine how communities like this could shape our world. I wonder how this would affect the numbers of people with depression, or the amount of suicides, or even the number of Irish women travelling abroad for abortions.
There are already various charities that provide food and other things to needy families, but none of them have come up with a system that will also provide fresh and healthy home grown produce that help with maintaining a good, nourishing diet. Most of these charities are focused on short term help and assistance. What people need though, is something that is going to last for the long term and the answer is community.
Our plan has various levels which I will explain as simply as possible;
Growers, Gatherers, Givers and Gardens.
Growers are people with farms, smallholdings, or even a person with chickens in the back yard. Growers pledge a 'corner' of their produce to be grown for the Corners cause. This could be anything from pledging 4 pots of honey a season, a dozen eggs a week, or 5 lettuces a week in season. The idea is to provide needy familes with fresh and seasonal food in a virtually low-cost way. These will be collected weekly from the growers to be delivered to the doors of the person in need.
Gatherers are other groups, charities, churches or families who wish to pledge the 'corners' of their cupboards and gather and donate large quantities of non-perishable foods and other groceries to assist in lessening the burden for people in need.
Corner Gardens is a large scale dream that we wish to see come true. These will be community gardens for people who would like to be Growers, but have no access to land. The community gardens could also be used as a place for all sorts of people to learn how to grow their own food.
Givers are those who can help with financial assistance to cover the costs to run 'Corners'.
Other ideas that we want to see brought into reality
A winter fuel stock of timber, turf and coal to be distributed weekly along with food. We can buy a 6x4 foot trailer load of timber for 12euros.
An exceptional needs fund, set aside to provide financial assistance in exceptional cases, such as someone unable to pay their electric bill, or a person whose car has broken down and needs assistance paying the cost for the services of a mechanic.
Bookets- recipe booklets for healthy meals, information booklets for how to cut living costs, horticulture booklets for how to grow your own food in your back garden.
The headquarters for Corners, is 'The Wilderness Farm' in wild County Leitrim in the west of Ireland. Where other growers will pledge a corner of their produce, the Wilderness Farm intends to use pretty much most of its produce for the cause. The Pomeroy family have been living at the small farm for 18 months now and are still in the process of setting up. You can find out more about the farm and progress on Facebook. Terry and Sarah Pomeroy are the founders and current managers of Corners.
The Wilderness Farm is the only currently active part of Corners as we are still in the planning phase. We intend to be fully functional and providing people and families by the beginning of the next growing season. These next few months over winter will be spent collaborating with local and national charities, churches, and farmers to gather pledges and support. Even if gathering support and pledges takes longer than this, The Wilderness Farm will still be going ahead with the Corners project and will be providing as many as possible with what they have, although it would be on a smaller scale than we would hope for, it will still be a start.
What the project needs funding for TODAY
Printing posters and information leaflets to spread the world about the project and gather support and pledges,
Setting up and running costs for a website,
Adverstising for attracting farmers/growers to the project,
Purchasing of tinned foods etc to begin the gathering process,
The purchasing of compost, seeds, fertiliser and other horticultural needs to supply when growing season comes back.
*poverty figures taken from welfare.ie