Tenesia was one of 15 people who participated in Bridging the Gap's "Big Ideas" Workshop in Cardiff in July 2023. As Tenesia and her husband plan to set up their organic community farm serving diverse communities in Wales, they were inspired and encouraged by what they learnt from the group.
In July 2023, Bridging the Gap brought together local people, farmers, market managers and dietitians at a workshop in Cardiff to come up with “big ideas” to bridge the gap between people experiencing low income and climate and nature friendly food. Tenesia is one of the farmers who participated in that group. Her story is a reminder of why it is important for us to find spaces for gathering around food.
Tell us a little bit about you and your work
When I moved to England from South America, my whole body wasn’t prepared for the shock of the difference in climate and food. It took me years to realise that I was eating a really different diet to the one I had grown up with, the climate was different, and the pace of life was so different from the Caribbean to London. We started Earth to Earth Organics, producing organic skincare products, to address my skin’s reaction to this change and then we realised that what we put into our bodies is as important.
We started growing our own food in an allotment in London, and we gradually moved from one bed to two plots. We soon found that there was a lot of travel involved. So, we moved out of the city to Bedfordshire where we had a massive garden. This is where the whole idea of growing our own food and teaching people how to grow their own really started to develop. Then on a visit to Brecon Beacons we realised that we should move to Wales where there was space and also a real gathering of communities around food.
How did you come to be involved in Bridging the Gap?
When we moved to Wales, we met a woman called Carol who introduced us to others working in food and one way or another we found our way to Bridging the Gap. At the Cardiff Big Ideas Workshop run by Bridging the Gap, we found that everything we had been thinking about was exactly what everyone in the room was looking at.
What has happened since the Bridging the Gap workshop?
Before coming to the workshop we had been speaking to Pearl from Food Cardiff who introduced us to ELC, to get the funding we need for the land we want to grow food on and to create a community space where kids can come and learn about food.
If you go on our Instagram, you can see that we have always spoken about food as skincare is just part of the bigger picture. Food was really important to my pregnancy as I had fibroids so needed to be very conscious of what I was eating to make sure my child was delivered safely into this world.
We believe that it takes a village to raise a child and we want to build that community around food. A lot of people are not confident in the kitchen but when you come together in the kitchen you learn a lot more about people and what they need than if you are in a massive gathering. If you bring people together around you cooking them food and providing them with food it feels a lot safer. A lot of this thinking was confirmed at the Bridging the Gap workshop.
Welsh people are very family and community oriented, but that aspect of life can feel like it’s falling apart with the changes in our communities. We want to revive that.
So, tell us a little more about your plans
One of the first spaces we are building is the play area with a coffee hut around it where people can come and play but also get food and drink and engage with the herb garden. There is a public footpath running through the back of the plot we have applied for, where people walk through, so this will be an opportunity to invite them in. We want to have a dedicated space to teach which is more than a classroom where cooking can be show cased and where we can have community days. We will build this with the community and see what it looks like in the end.
Are there any other ideas that came about as a result of the workshop?
We are really keen to inspire people to eat seasonally while also accessing food that is culturally relevant to them where it can grow well here. The Eatwell guide has charts for South Asian and African and Caribbean diets but these include so many things that aren’t grown here. The reality is that you live where you live and so we want to blend the two in the veg boxes we produce on our new plot of land.
While we were at the Bridging the Gap workshop, we told some of the community members about a National Trust park where we like to go walking. Then one day we bumped into them on the deer walk at that park. We started talking to them about the veg boxes we are planning to produce and they said that we should sell them via the Butetown community centre where we had held the workshop. So that’s what we plan to do.
What’s next for you?
We should find out whether we have got the plot of land we have applied for in January. But even if we don’t get this funding, we will make this happen. The plan is to keep running the skincare business and to change the name to Earths Farm Skincare to mirror the name of the farm which will be Earths Farm. We would like to start using more ingredients that grow here and reformulate our products so that they are more sustainable and better for people.
To find out more about Earth to Earth Organics visit their website here: https://earthtoearthorganics.com/
To find out more about Bridging the Gap and its pilots see our webpage here: https://www.sustainweb.org/bridging-the-gap/
Published Thursday 30 November 2023
Bridging the Gap: Bridging the Gap to climate and nature friendly food for all.
How to build a healthier food system - reflections from Sustain's evidence to the House of Lords
15 Feb 2024
It's the right thing to do: five years of local healthier food advertising policies
20 Feb 2024
Hannah joined Sustain in November 2022 as Programme Manager for the Bridging the Gap programme, which aims to demonstrate ways to build better supply chains between climate and nature friendly food and people on a lower income.
Bridging the Gap
Support our charity
Donate to enhance the health and welfare of people, animals and the planet.