London’s food heroes recipe for success
London’s wealth of ways to tackle food and farming challenges is celebrated annually through the Urban Food Awards. Sarah Williams, talks to previous winners tackling the carbon footprint of our food.
A decade ago there were just a handful of small city-based producers making food in the capital. Fast forward to 2014 and the movement was really taking off, creating the opportunity to acknowledge those bringing food production back to the heart of the city. And so, with the support of the Mayor of London, the Urban Food Awards was created.
With the awards focusing on the diversity and creativity used to solve our big challenges, I chat to previous winners about how they are addressing one of our most pressing issues — the climate and nature emergency.
No new kid on the block, Calthorpe Community Garden has provided a haven for city dwellers, including our six legged friends, in the heart of Kings Cross since 1984.
The Calthorpe team take food waste from the on-site café and turn it into renewable biogas and fertiliser for their polytunnel, where they grow fruit and veg for the café. This trailblazing team were truly deserving of the ‘Circular Superstar’ Award in 2019.
“We intended not only to grow vegetables and manage our organic waste locally but are committed to inspire and teach people to do it as well,” explains Katalin Patonay, from the garden. She tells us, “The award not only gave us the feeling of recognition, but also the motivation to extend our composting area and increase our training”.
BUZZIN’ FOR BETTER FOOD
Api:cultural is a perfect example of how healthy people and biodiversity are mutually dependent. Founder, Mark Patterson, is passionate about defending nature through providing forage – namely for the bees – while making the most of the multitude of benefits brought to those that co-exist with them. Awarded for ‘Good Food on Prescription’, Api:Cultural works with people with disabilities and mental health problems, creating a buzz and boosting wellbeing.
“We don’t just keep bees. They need habitat to forage in and our honey bees share these with wild pollinators - many of which are better at pollinating wild plants and performing ecosystem services” explains Mark. Recently, Api:Cultural created a wildflower meadow on one of the most barren parts of our city, an eleventh floor rooftop, bringing life and getting the workers on board in the process.
Bread N Butter CIC are the new kids on the block, and set up their Urban Food Award ‘Super Social Enterprise’ in 2018 to find ways to inspire children and families to cook. With an astounding third of all food waste generated at home, it wasn’t long before the Bread N Butter team came up with their Waste Warriors programme. Since it began, they have not only taught over 1,650 pupils and their families about reducing household food waste, but also how to avoid single use plastic and recycle more.
“For us it’s about reducing food waste, bringing people together and increasing community spirit” says co-founder Natasha Walter. “Winning the award gave us a big boost and since October we have been also taken on a café at Onestone Grove Community Centre in Edgware, giving us a fantastic opportunity to offer good food at affordable prices”.
The Urban Food Awards is all about showing what is possible, inspiring people to act and demonstrating that the solutions and motivations to mend our broken food system are out there.