Writing is nearly complete!

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We are so close to the end now. I’ve been spending the last couple days sat indoors putting the final bits together: writing extra thoughts; proofreading and editing everything; ensuring I’m making sense and essentially condensing my previous rambles down to an affordable size – the cost of printing is sadly enormous, already resulting in minimal copies for this first round of printing.

I’m delighted to be assisted by the amazing CoCo Creative, who will be helping me with the book design over the next couple of weeks. Things will likely move quite fast from here – but I estimate I’ve got a solid 10 more days of word forming before we can finalize the layout and page count. Hopefully the final publication will be sent off to the printers before the end of May!

As for all of the projects featured in the book, I am entirely grateful for your time and patience with me over the course of the past 2 years! Thanks you to everyone that has confirmed their proof with me. The last thing I will be sending out is a request for written consent to use and print your logos in the directory part of the book. After that, our next contact will be to send you the book ūüôā

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Recipe cooking!

Yesterday was mega. All of the recipes were finally cooked and photographed for the book. I’m so happy with the variation of dishes – so many flavours, colours and waste-kicking ideas! Waking up this morning feels interesting… I’m not hungry that’s for sure, but I am realising that this journey is coming to an end. Today I transition into the final chapter of Landfull’s production… it’ll be a busy December full of writing, editing, book design, proof-reading and my last few visits as I travel from Scotland to the Isle of Wight. After all of this is more or less complete, my focus will be on discovering the best route to get the book printed and out to food waste projects around the country.

All contributors to the book will receive a free copy of the publication, and any recipe submissions that did not make the final cut will be posted on this website instead.

More Gleaning

This week I’ve gleaned twice. Once in Hereford, and once near Preston. As always, the days were filled with wonderful people and nourishing chatter. Apples and onions were abundant – and all of them rejected from UK supermarkets. I was able to capture a few images for both Feedback and the book, so I now only have a few more visits to organise before I can move into the final stage of editing.¬†This book should soon be going to print!

Back in Southampton

Fareshare Manchester

So after nearly 2 months on the road, I’m back in Southampton where the food waste tour began. In no way does it feel complete, but my do I feel nourished!

As expected, beginning to reflect on the whole entire trip is challenging. I had planned to be doing lots of blogging as I moved around the country, but I found that it was just distracting me from the very fortunate position I happened to be in. Sometime after London, I made a very conscious decision to not pressure myself to¬†write-up my experiences and to be more present with what I was encountering. It definitely relieved me¬†to put that out of mind, although it did leave some worry about how I would conquer this task on returning to Southampton. Well this is where I’m at.

There are still people and projects I have yet to connect with, so I’m working on that now. There are also some organizations where I’ve met with the directors, but happened to cross paths when their project wasn’t active. In these cases, it was great to hear about what they do and how things run, but I’ll likely take advantage of a mini-tour during summer to experience their events/pop-ups live, and document them¬†for the book.

Currently, I’m in the midst of communicating with organizations, activists and projects about how they want to be represented in the book. I’m collecting donated content up until April 30th, and from there I’ll be in the first phase of production – cooking up and photographing the recipes!

Landfull is a collaborative cookery book that I am producing alongside my own food waste projects in Southampton. For this reason I am working on it part-time. I have no idea of the time-scale of such a publication, but I aim¬†to have it ready for printing by the end of 2015. I can now hear you laughing at my nativity…

Dalston People’s Kitchen

Peoples Kitchen Dalston (3)

Dalston People’s Kitchen meet, cook and eat every other Saturday. They use a space within a youth centre in Hackney, where a large hall is filled¬†with boxes of kitchenware, crates of food, and enough tables and chairs for as many people as interested. Individuals can come along as they please, helping with the chopping, cooking, washing and eating. The general feel seemed very open to whatever time or energy you could offer the meal.

Peoples Kitchen Dalston (4)  Peoples Kitchen Dalston (18)

All the food was collected from stores.. of course all being surplus. We collectively made loads of different dishes, from fruity cakes and herby flat breads to curries, dahl, salads and stuffed peppers. A very delicious feast!

There was quite an emphasis on sharing skills at this People’s Kitchen. I guess because of the location, there were lots of young people around. Groups of teenagers that were hanging out in the centre were welcome to get involved if they wanted, and did do. Younger children had to be accompanied by someone older, but were just as welcome. It was the first community cook that I had working alongside that many children, which I very much enjoyed! Skills were quite organically shared across the tables, with a back and fourth dialogue of ideas from different levels of experience. It really appeared that some of the kids felt quite energised and empowered to be part of preparing the dishes. A really nice thing to offer the neighbourhood at weekends.

Peoples Kitchen Dalston (7)  Peoples Kitchen Dalston (6)

This People’s Kitchen group actually just received some funding to run cookery workshops for children on the alternate weekend to the usual feast. They have already started this, which seems a really positive endeavour for the local community.

Peoples Kitchen Dalston (26)  Peoples Kitchen Dalston (25)

Skip Garden

The garden of a thousand hands….

I was so happy to have come across Skip Garden whilst in London. It’s just off York Way in Kings Cross, hiding amongst the industrial landscape. I was unaware of its existence prior to this trip, and ended up discovering it quite spontaneously.

Skip Garden is a community garden, kitchen, café, workshop space and urban oasis. All sorts of herbs, chillies, fruits and vegetables grow from skips Рas well as from pots made of reclaimed, up-cycled materials. It places extended emphasis on the importance of learning together to understand ourselves and the world we are part of, running many workshops and retreats for young people. The garden provides an open invitation to anyone passing by, as well as venue-hire for different functions and events.

When you walk into the garden, it’s quite evident how contrasting the environment is to the cranes and office blocks that surround it. I really¬†experienced such tranquillity, nourishment and connection by just entering the space from the pace and population of the roadside. There were friendly and informative people there to talk to if you had questions. Alternatively you could wander around alone and in silence.

I was very fortunate to encounter the kitchen space – seeing how things work from the inside. Skip Garden isn’t¬†a food-waste initiative per-se, but they entirely work towards putting every harvested ingredient to use – therefore, reducing food waste in the first place! In the kitchen, a variety of seasonal dishes are cooked up and served, using all of the grown ingredients. The menu is created with the help of young people and volunteers, often including meals that focus of using vegetables in their wholeness. On Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, this menu is then served¬†to the public through the cafe – not only giving guests a taste of what grows from the skips, but provoking thought around community, sustainability and land-use. To sit down and eat from a plate of fresh, organic produce – which is so local that it’s only travelled from a few feet away – generates mindfulness of where our food comes from and how it get’s from ‘farm to fork’.

I had some extremely valuable conversation with one of the cooks, learning different ways in which Skip Garden places importance¬†on waste reduction. She told me about one particular workshop she’d led with some children, where they all decided and created¬†a meal together. Then, with all of the leftover vegetable peel and trimmings, they prepared an additional¬†veggie lasagne. She said that the kids comments were so encouraging. They were full of excitement and surprise about how they could make another whole meal out of what they thought they were putting in the bin. One child told her he needs to go home to tell his mum the good news!

Another part of Skip Garden’s manifesto is portability. It puts to purpose unused areas of Kings Cross development area – a total of 67 acres of construction site. This means the garden changes location as and when land is bought and sold. It was particularly inspiring to me, encouraging reflection on flexibility, compromise and place. These are all paramount in my thinking about a how best a food waste cafe can exist in Southampton. I mentioned that I’d like to re-visit them in the spring when more of the garden is in bloom, and was told that they may have moved the other side of the road by that time.

Despite not using surplus food, Skip Garden will be donating a recipe to the cookery book to highlight their workshop activity and the energy they put toward not generating food waste in the first place. Plus… they grow their food out of skips so that’s pretty cool! I’m really looking forward to receiving their recipes, and seeing the garden again soon.

Save The Date

Save The Date is a chapter of The Real Junk Food Project. Based in Dalston, East London, it serves up meals of surplus ingredients on a pay-as-you-feel basis. They began¬†in November and have experimented with different opening times. Currently, they’re open between 11am and 6pm, Tuesday – Friday.

One of the most exciting things about Save The Date, is that they built their own kitchen. They were very kindly given the piece of land, which was already full of garden space, furniture scraps and un-used flower beds. In only 3 weeks, the group had put together the cafe, complete with electric, lighting, plumbing and fire extinguisher! Without much surprise, most materials and kitchen equipment has been donated/up-cycled. There is a fire pit to keep one of the seating areas a bit warmer, but plans are to collect two donated sheds sometime soon, where people can dine more comfortable during the winter months. The place is amazing!

Some of the volunteers are restaurant professionals, including one of the directors – so there’s a real sense of catering knowledge. The food is all intercepted from local stores and businesses around the area. They are currently borrowing Snact‘s food interception bicycle, which is making it a lot easier to pick up large amounts of grub. While I was there, they were expecting a visit from a Health and Safety Inspector, which led to good conversation about the essential things I’d have to cover at Curb, Southampton. Lots of obvious stuff, but lots to think about.

After a really warm welcome and tour of there entire space (which I will say, is much, much bigger than you think!, I sat and ate with a group of volunteers. Again, it was amazing to connect with the people running this cafe. I’d met them at the Disco Soup earlier in the week, but it was so great to see them doing their thing! The hand-made kitchen has been a real inspiration and an important reminder of what teamwork can do.

Save The Date have donated a couple of great recipes to go into the book! I’m really looking forward to returning to there soon.

Save The Date is nextdoor to the Feedback offices, so I went to visit them too. We had a really exciting conversation of how they’re all going to be represented in the book!

Community Shop

Community Shop was a different stop on my trip. It’s a social enterprise that works to empower and build community through realising the social potential of surplus food. They sell products intercepted from stores at about 70% cheaper than supermarkets. The Community Shop I visited is one of two stores at the moment, with efforts to open many more around London and other cities in the UK. Individuals are able to join a 6 month membership, if they live within a catchment area and receive income support.

I was surprised to see that part of the shop was a cafe, where a cook dishes up meals for members of the shop made all from products in the store. This is open for Breakfast and Lunch from Monday to Friday. There is a real sense that Community Shop is more than just food, with quite a clear emphasis on the Community Hub part of the space. This is where members take part in workshops, build skill sets, plan and receive support.

The shop does not take on volunteers, but has a small team of paid staff. They are a non-government organization so they feel much more freedom to do what their individual members need. As for food, they pay a very small fee to supermarkets to receive surplus. Of course, supermarkets would have to pay landfill tax if they were to waste the products, so if a small payment is some encouragement for supermarkets to put effort into wasting less, then Community Shop are willing to pay it.

I was a little surprised to learn one of the reasons that they receive food. I had not thought before that when people/organizations place a food order for delivery, that if that delivery is running late and doesn’t make it on time – all of the food is often wasted. This is because it costs the supermarket more in labour to unpack the delivery and redistribute the products in the store. I learnt that this happens a lot in London, I guess where traffic can be super chaotic. Community shop receive these unpacked, undelivered delivery orders, so the often get some really random stuff. Last week they had their first cat basket in store!

Of course, the shop also receives pallets of food that would be wasted due to incorrect labels, damaged packaging, over-ordering or if the store just doesn’t have enough room to store it all. They also take items past their pest before date, perfect fit for human consumption, but not able to be sold in shops.

I was glad to visit Community Shop and experience another different initiative working within the food waste movement. There was a real energy in the space – lots of laugher and chatter between staff and members. It was great to meet and chat with the manager as well as other folks in the team. The cook was super happy to write up a couple of recipes and send them to me sometime soon!

Community Shop (16)

Pie In The Sky

During the week I visited Pie in the Sky Community Café in the Bromley-by-Bow Centre. I had been to this cafe over a year ago, as part of research for beginning Food Waste Café with Libby Russell. Pie In The Sky is run by FoodCycle, and serves low-cost dishes made from food surplus. FoodCycle (as you may be aware) is a UK charity that brings together groups all around the country, arranging to collect supermarket waste from them, utilising spare kitchens and selling nutritious dishes. Pie In The Sky is there only permanent, full-time kitchen. The café is run by volunteers and puts emphasis on providing catering work experience to individuals who are unemployed and struggling to find jobs.

When I arrived this time, it was much busier than the last. Most tables were full of people enjoying breakfast. There was a real buzz of activity, within the caf√© tables and in the kitchen. I didn’t get as much time to talk with the manager as I’d like to, but note that this is because there were lots of people to feed and things to organize for the day. It was really nice to return to somewhere that had supported me a long while ago – when I came last time they kindly added myself and Libby to the FoodCycle network to fund our Basic Food Hygiene training. So appreciative.