Meet London’s first 50 Urban Food Heroes using food for good
Introducing our first 50 Urban Food Heroes from 2017. Read on for how these amazing people and enterprises that grow, cook, make and save food and, ultimately, are making London a better place through their amazing ventures.
Our first 50 Urban Food Heroes include:
- Wonderful cooks and cafés, supporting people to come together and eat, to learn to cook and share stories
- The makers and bakers, helping people turn hobbies into jobs and overcome adversity), showing what real food tastes like.
- The savers – getting creative with surplus food and demonstrating how no food fit for consumption should go to the bin, and reduce our plastic waste.
- The retailers, showing us how to be radical when we shop, and put our pounds to good use through local markets, box schemes and support the caption small producers.
- The growers and farmers, who have helped turn our city into oasis of edible spaces, that can feed us organic produce, honey, mushrooms – and of course crayfish.
- Not forgetting the trainers and space makers that help more people learn, create, and start fresh new ventures to grow, cook, make and save good food in London.
Read on for the full list and check out our Good Food Map showcasing many more Urban Food Heroes.
Cooks and cafés
Be Enriched: Connecting people with each other over a bite to eat. They use fruit and veg from grocers and markets, household gardens and grow herbs and edible plants to cook delicious hot vegetarian meals.
Brixton Pound CIC: This community café saves over 100kg every week with donations from Brixton businesses and feed over 200 people.
Café from Crisis: Provides a route into employment for homeless people and ex-offenders by offering training in skills for working in hospitality and catering.
Fat Macy’s: Training aspiring chefs to serve up food with heart, creating a recipe that helps young Londoners make the journey from hostel to home.
Friends House: Based at the Quakers central office, this café-come-conference venue provides employment opportunities to men in transition from prison or secure hospital. Plus they have a zero waste policy and provide offer home cooked organic food.
Headway East: Supporting people affected by brain injury, using food both for learning/relearning skills and as a social tool, including their popular Headway EATS supper clubs.
Papi’s Pickles: Cooking up fresh and tasty south Indian and Sri Lankan food and pickles made by women from these communities who relocated to the UK during and after the conflict in Sri Lanka.
Stories On Our Plate – SOOP: Challenging the negative attitudes towards people with refugee and migrant backgrounds through a 10-week programme for home cooks who aspire to launch themselves into the food and catering sector, and a monthly pop up restaurant.
The Hornbeam café and Community Centre: This veggie café in Walthamstow uses vegetables grown by partners Organiclea in all dishes, and hosts a weekly lunch or jamming sessions for volunteers.
Better Health Bakery: Part of Hackney mental health charity, the Centre for Better Health, the bakery provides trainee placements to adults recovering from mental ill health.
Breadwinners Foundation: Working with the best artisan bakers in London and empowering those most in need to run their own bread selling business as a market stall or bike powered delivery service.
E5 Bakehouse: Bakers of really great Real Bread using the most ecological and nutritious ingredients they can, as well as tasty cakes and daily lunches with organic, seasonal ingredients.
Fields of London Fine Foods: Creates tempting slices of employment for people with mental ill health, by baking and selling pies and other savoury treats using organic, local and rescued food.
Luminary Bakery: Giving women opportunities to build a future for themselves using baking as a tool. They break the generational cycles of abuse, prostitution, criminal activity and poverty by supporting women on a journey to employability and entrepreneurship.
Ma Baker: An award winning micro bakery in the heart of Fulham, Liz Wilson bakes, sells and delivers Real Bread to the good people of SW6, alongside a range of highly acclaimed baking classes.
Change Please: Training and employment for people experiencing homelessness as baristas on vans and retail sites around London. One trainee described the opportunity as ‘...like a stepping stone out of the darkness.’
Hackney Herbal: Growing herbs on a patchwork of sites to create herbal infusions. Profits go towards free community creative, health and wellbeing activities; and training in herb growing and tisane making.
Nemi Teas: Rebuilding refugee lives by creating employment opportunities brewing fresh chai tea at tea stalls across London to help people regain confidence and gain new skills.
Pearly Queen: Sources honey from across London to brew beer and educate people about the importance of bees and their place in food production, as well as helping support communities of producers.
The Orchard Project: Plants, restores and supports community orchards; trains volunteer orchard groups and helps them harvest their fruit; creates craft cider and juice with volunteers; pays the communities back in produce or money for tools/training/expertise; then sells the rest and funds community orcharding work. A truly fruitful circle!
Fruit Magpie: Maker of a smooth, sliceable preserve, traditionally served with cheese. This is made with high-quality, surplus fruit from local urban gardens and allotments, , which would otherwise go to waste.
Gourmet Goat: Creating eastern Mediterranean food using rose veal and kid goat meat (by-products of the British dairy industry) organic produce from Forty Hall Farm, organic flatbreads made by refugees and pickles made from gluts of local veg.
Odd Box: Collects misshapen and surplus produce directly from farms for a fair price and deliver it as weekly veg boxes to south London homes and offices.
Reyouzable: Selling packaging-free ethical food and non-food products to help people reduce the packaging waste generated by their weekly grocery shopping.
Skills and Care Greenwich: Collecting surplus food from supermarkets and a local allotment, to turn into delicious meals that are distributed to homeless people, an under-5 centre, older people, war widows and veterans who pay what they can.
Spare Fruit: Rescues beautifully fresh British fruit and transforms it into deliciously healthy fruit crisps to support caption small British farms and raise awareness of food waste in a delicious way.
Crystal Palace: This community -led market supports organic and biodynamic farmers, mentors start-up stall owners, runs the Patchwork Farm stall and The Store Cupboard, which sells organic refills and eco cleaning products.
Growing Communities: Running a local veg scheme, Stoke Newington Farmers’ Market and a local patchwork of food growing sites, which produces Hackney salad and provides a training ground for new urban growers.
Make Kit: A not-for-profit enterprise creating simple and affordable recipe kits, with subsidies or free packs for people on low incomes and/or suffering from diet-related illnesses, which are funded by the sale of full price kits.
Growers and farmers
Article No. 25: Using coffee grounds to grow mushrooms, which are sold to restaurants, shops and individuals. The spent mushroom compost is donated to local farms.
Bee Naturals: Providing advice and education and planting forage to encourage responsible urban bee keeping, and raises awareness of the problems affecting our many pollinators.
Bermondsey Street Bees: Sets up and manages apiaries to produce raw honey to sell. Also focuses on educating people about responsible beekeeping, raw honey production, bee welfare and the importance of bee-friendly planting.
Crayfish Bob: Bob Ring traps, cooks and sells non-native, invasive crayfish caught in UK waters, and is known for his legendary Louisiana inspired crawfish boils.
Forty Hall Farm: An organic farm in Enfield, run by Capel Manor College. Runs a farm shop, market garden and local veg bag delivery scheme, selling locally-produced, organic meat and veg. The farm is also home to a community orchard project and…
Forty Hall Vineyard: This unique, multi-award-winning, horticultural social enterprise is London’s only commercial-scale vineyard and the only community-led vineyard in the country.
Growhampton: Creators of an edible campus for food growing, where students harvest or forage food and sell at their weekly famers’ market, or make it into delicious preserves.
Hen Corner: An urban caption smallholding complete with chickens, honey bees, fruit and nut trees, a kitchen garden, and a weekly Real Bread microbakery. Runs courses for individuals, schools, businesses and charities.
OrganicLea: A community food project and workers’ cooperative based in the Lea Valley in north-east London. Producing and distributing food and plants locally, as well as inspiring and supporting others to do the same.
Patchwork Farm: Encourages local gardeners to bring any garden gluts to sell on a market stall alongside the produce from three community gardens. It is sold on the basis that people take what they need and pay what they think it’s worth.
Sutton Community Farm: A community-owned 7.1 acre farm, run to increase access to fresh, healthy, sustainable food and to provide a shared space for people to cultivate skills, get exercise and make new friends.
The Albany: A half-acre of community garden set in the café grounds, supporting people to become more aware of how food is produced and encourage a healthier diet. Produce is shared and used in the Albany's Caff A.
WalthamGrow: Growing food for a hyper-local restaurant in a council house back garden. The produce is shared between the tenant, and the local restaurant Marmello Kitchen, who pay the growers wages in return as part of a Chef Support Agriculture scheme.
Trainers and space makers
Central Street Cookery School: This community cookery school in an inner London community centre also runs a community food growing space, helps to avoid food waste by using surplus food and hosts a community fridge.
GCDA: Runs a variety of projects that help new food entrepreneurs meet local needs. These include managing free community cookery clubs; fairly priced fruit and veg stalls at children’s centres and a new food business called PLENTY, which sells ready meals at Brockley Farmers’ Market.
Granville Community Kitchen: Dee Woods, the co-founder and coordinator of Granville Community Kitchen, has worked in community food education, health promotion, organic food growing, food history and research for over 25 years. In 2016, Dee was named Cook of the Year by the BBC Food and Farming Awards.
Made in Hackney: Promotes health and environmental benefits of eating a local, organic, seasonal, plant-based diet. Teaches skills to grow, cook, preserve and compost; as well as providing training and an affordable kitchen space for ethical food entrepreneurs.
Maida Hill Place: Kitchen incubator that supports food enterprise start-ups and people wishing to re-enter employment, and has created a vibrant hub in a once drug-blighted space.
Shoreditch Trust: Home to Waterhouse Restaurant, which provides chef training in a live kitchen setting, mentoring and offering work experience to young people facing challenges.
Wolves Lane Community Food Hub: A hub of sustainable food enterprises and educators set on a 3.5 acre site. Grows organic produce, runs a local veg box scheme, teaches food growing skills, incubates start-ups and provides space for events.
Know someone who should be added to this list? Entering them (or yourself) into the Urban Food Awards 2019.