Feeding The City

Voodoo Burgers’ Jenny and Edward Corrie by Beth Crosland

Published: 21 Sep 2018

Our food system is unsustainable, the challenge is how to change this. Feeding the City project manager Harriet Symes says that’s what the initiative is about as she chats to people behind the three London enterprises involved.

As our cities sprawl, people are losing connection with food and some have limited access to sustainable food. For low-income families, obesity is a common symptom of food insecurity, while many children have low micronutrient intake. Others suffer from hunger, especially during school holidays. 

These are just some of the reasons that Impact Hub King’s Cross created Feeding the City, a UK-wide, 12-month programme to support community-based sustainable startups that address issues in the food system. 

Grassroots change

All of the businesses support groups of people who need better access to sustainable food. They are rooted in these communities, ensuring each project supports grassroots change, led by the people affected. Above all, we want to change structures that are at the root of food sustainability and justice. 

To avoid so-called ‘founder’s syndrome’, we support teams, rather than individual entrepreneurs. Interestingly, two-thirds of programme participants are women, the opposite of social entrepreneurs nationally.

We work with incredible partners who’ve shared their expertise: London Food Link, Food Ethics Council, Sustainable Restaurants Association, WWF UK and Social Enterprise UK. We thank the Mark Leonard Trust and Bank of America Merrill Lynch for their support, which made Feeding the City possible.

We look forward to launching a new round of the programme in 2019 with an expanded regional reach across Scotland, in partnership with Impact Hub Inverness, and Northern Ireland, with the Bryson Group.

Kurds & Whey

Cheese making start-up director Makbule Gunes says: “My mother and I were chatting in her north London kitchen as she made her delicious Kurdish village cheese, something that she learnt back in eastern Turkey. ‘We could sell this cheese here in London. It tastes better and is more creamy than the halloumi-type cheese served in restaurants here,’ I enthused, ‘and many of the women, who are served by the Kurdish Women’s Charity where I work, want to work. They could make cheese.’ The idea was born and I teamed up with Belinda Perriman, founder of Kurdish House London, who provides business support and came up with the name. We plan a trading subsidiary of Roj Women Association, the charity for which I work.”

Voodoo Burgers

Co-founder Jenny Corrie told us: “Voodoo Burgers offers gourmet veggie and vegan burgers, using locally-sourced produce. We believe no child should go hungry, so a share of our profits goes to Make Lunch, a charity tackling holiday hunger. This money will help them set up new holiday kitchens throughout the UK to feed vulnerable children. We plan to buy a van to sell our burgers in markets and at festivals and cater for events. We want ultimately to establish our own Voodoo Burgers restaurant. The more we grow, the greater impact we can have.”

“I’m sure we would not have made so much progress without Feeding the City’s incredible help and expertise. They guided us through each stage of setting up our business. The best part of being on this programme is meeting other incredible food start-ups. It’s great to have other people to bounce ideas off and share the highs and lows of setting up your own business.”

Burp Ferments

“Burp Ferments takes people on a journey. One that starts with an ingredient or two, and ends with a mind and gut teeming with microbial glee.” Said co-founder Holly Holder. “We share food stories by hosting workshops that delve deep into the rich histories and cultures of fermentation, paying homage to an ancient practice.  Every workshop is based in seasonality, showcasing produce grown and gathered by foragers and small-scale sustainable farmers in and around London. We explore each ingredient, telling the stories of each plant and celebrating the diversity of practices that lead them to our table. We aim to champion a true sense of community and integrity in all we do, reviving a world of fermenters, growers and gatherers.” 

Georgie Styles added: “To kick us off, we have our first seasonal cocktail-making evening hitting London during Urban Food Fortnight. Beyond this, we hope to take to the fields and floors by selling and sharing at festivals, events, bars and restaurants across London. So, go wild and get involved in our #burplife…and keep those eyes peeled and hands on the crock, we’re ready to take London by storm!”


Looking for your place in the field of food food? Come to the Roots to Work Conference – Thu 18 October as part of the Gaia Foundation We Feed the World exhibition.