Katie Hastings lives in mid Wales on the edge of the Dyfi Estuary. She has four ‘rescue chickens’ and lives on a piece of land shared with 8 adults and 5 children.
Having moved to Wales eight years ago to pursue her passion for growing food, Katie has played a big role in setting up several community food growing projects in her nearby town Machynlleth. She is passionate about the importance of environmental sustainability and the ability of food growing to not only improve our health but also to bring people together.
Ten years ago Katie was living in the city and lacking a sense of purpose in her life. Having learnt about the effects of climate change and human destruction of the environment while at university, she graduated feeling a sense of powerlessness. She says “I wanted to make a positive change in the world but I didn’t know how. I didn’t feel that I had any useful skills or anything to contribute”. Katie fell into a period of very bad mental health, suffering from depression and crippling panic attacks. She describes going to the doctor and asking for help, “my doctor changed my life, she referred me to a walled garden for horticultural therapy”.
Following a one and a half year recovery, Katie moved to Wales to take up a placement as a gardener at a sustainability centre in the hills. She spent the summer focusing on vegetable production and making lasting friendships with people in the valley. “I was really impressed by the sense of community I found in Mid Wales” she says. “I loved attending the weekly market and meeting other food growers in the area. Everyone was so welcoming. I was able to see the positive impact that local farmers and woodland managers were having on the environment and I wanted to get involved. I also saw possibilities to strengthen the local food economy further”.
Katie set up a veg box scheme with five other people, growing and selling ‘chemical free’ vegetables to households in the community. Over time the project developed, the box scheme grew into the Mach Maethlon community group. Katie is still one of the volunteer directors of Mach Maethlon and their activities now include cooking workshops, harvest parties and lunch clubs. “We still find food is the perfect way to bring people together in our community from different backgrounds, it’s the perfect leveller”.
Katie is keen to take part in The Big Lunch community walk. Katie also loves walking, and has completed several long distance walks including the 120 mile Anglesey Coastal Path and the Coast to Coast walk in northern England. “I love walking in nature and exploring new places” she says. She also loves to walk with other people and hopes that people will join her for sections of The Big Lunch community walk.
Katie says “it would mean a lot to me to represent Wales on The Big Lunch community walk. I think I can bring enthusiasm for the power of community and a positive outlook”. Katie is particularly enthusiastic sharing her passion for growing food and hearing how food can change people’s lives for the better.