Food Matters – a report from Greener Kirkcaldy’s Annual Gathering & AGM 2017
Our Annual Gathering and AGM took place on 27 May 2017. Our theme was ‘Food Matters – Inspiring our community through good food’. We invited two guest speakers to help us to explore the importance of food in our community, and how the food we grow, and eat can have an impact on people and places.
Emily Harvey: Development Manager for Food and Growing with Forth Environmental Link told us that “being a farmer’s daughter, she’s been passionate about ‘ food matters’ all her life”. Forth Environment Link (FEL) works with communities and partners across Forth Valley. They combine environmental education and awareness with other project support through the Stirling Cycle Hub; Grow Forth, local food initiative; Forth Valley Orchards programme and the Zero Waste Communities project. Their goal is linking people and the environment for a greener, healthier future.
FEL started as the Kippen Nature Club in 1989. The organisation grew and developed to include adult education and demonstration projects. In 2005, Forth Environment Link was created and merged with Forth Valley Food Links in 2008.This brought with it an additional focus on sustainable local food production and consumption. They’re extremely passionate about what they do in particular, supporting people to look at ways of addressing challenges for the future related to climate change, and equity in communities. As the project continues to develop they want to see their work “having an impact everywhere, on everything, with everyone”.
Emily gave the Gathering a flavour of all the work that FEL are involved in and in particular their Grow Forth/Stirling Food Hub.
Grow Forth is a local food network in Forth Valley that works closely with local communities, community food projects and local food businesses. They focus on connecting the community to grow, source, cook and eat local food, culminating in a Stirling Food Hub which operates out of their Cycling Hub in Stirling at the moment. They have also recently acquired premises in Falkirk which they will use a community building where food will be strong element too.
Emily also spoke about their recent Stirling Food Summit – a day to celebrate food, discuss what’s important about food, eat, and share food skills. This event looked at how a developing food culture where everyone can access good food, is gaining attention in Stirling. The summit explored the idea of Stirling becoming Scotland’s first ‘Good Food Nation’ city and a ‘Sustainable Food City’ – a place with a vibrant food economy, sustainable food production and distribution and, accessible food for all. People could meet with local food producers at a food market (FEL are also known for having the most successful food assembly in the UK). They also ran free workshops to share skills on different food themes as well as an opportunity to ‘forage for your own dinner’, and a discussion on food tourism.
Hot off the press, Emily highlighted the ’Good Food Stirling’ Report, a recent collaboration between Nourish Scotland and The Forth Environment Link, which is really worth a read: http://www.forthenvironmentlink.org/projects/grow-forth/news/266-hot-of-the-press-good-food-stirling-report. With lots happening in Forth Valley around food – Keep an eye on their website for more information!
Next up, we were delighted to welcome Mary Clear Chair and one of the Co-founders of the Incredible Edible Todmorden project in South Yorkshire. They grow vegetables to share, run cooking and other demonstrations and workshops, organise festivals, encourage people to shop local, and work with other local organisations to build a stronger, kinder community.
Mary’s talk to our Gathering was extremely vivid and inspiring. Their view was, “people keep using words but don’t take action” so they decided to just act. Their main objective is kindness through food. “It’s the simple stuff that works,” she said; “Cop corn’, at the police station or apple trees at the health centre”. They have lots of events and activities to join – they like any excuse to share and eat. All with no paid staff, no buildings, no public funding: radical community building in action. “If you eat you’re in. If you’re passionate, awake and like cake, this is a bonus”.
It is incredible what has been achieved there by the local community, and demonstrates in full “the power of small actions”. There are many films of Mary speaking about Incredible Edible on YouTube and we have supplied links here and here for you to watch.
Suzy Goodsir, Greener Kirkcaldy’s Development Manager spoke at the Gathering about the project’s busy year and continued to growth.
Their energy advice service ‘Cosy Kingdom’ made home energy advice visits to over 1,000 households last year. Cosy Kingdom also has two new projects coming up this year – one will work with Fife’s Traveller community, and another will work with the NHS and social care services.
They’ve been helping to improve the greenspace at Kenmore Terrace, in the Templehall area of Kirkcaldy, by working with the school staff and pupils, the Argos Centre’s youth groups and Fife Council. They planted an orchard and hedgerows, built raised beds and planted hundreds of bulbs.
Last March they launched The Library of Things – tools and equipment that can be borrowed for free on a weekly basis. They’re doing this to encourage people to borrow and share things, rather than buy something you may only use once! It’s based in thier High Street Hub and anyone can join.
Their community engagement team ran over 200 events last year, attended by 1,500 people. A lot of the team’s focus has been on helping people to learn new skills such as repairing and upcycling clothes, computer maintenance, and growing your own fruit and vegetables. These activities will continue for the year ahead.
They’re also piloting a new sustainable transport project to inspire people to cut their car use, starting off with a series of cycling activities over the Summer: a free bike borrowing scheme: adult cycle training; and group rides around Kirkcaldy. The project will also include test-drives of electric vehicles, and promotion of the Tripshare car-sharing scheme, and route planning advice. Details of these will be on their website.
They are looking into the idea of a natural play project in Kirkcaldy, to get children and young people to explore the natural environment and play outdoors. Outdoor, natural and self-directed play are hugely beneficial – they allow children to experience challenge and learn to assess risks, helping them build their skills and resilience. To test the demand for this new project, they will be running a programme of Kids Clubs this summer, and also working with other community groups in Kirkcaldy to develop pilot projects.
They’re also continuing to make plans for a Community Food Hub for Kirkcaldy – a place for people to come together to grow, cook, eat and learn. The Food Hub will bring together some of their current projects and will add more by offering courses, training, volunteer opportunities and work experience in growing and catering. It will be based at 2 sites: a horticultural training centre at Ravenscraig Walled Garden, and a town centre Hub where the majority of the project’s activities will be based.
At Ravenscraig , they plan to develop an additional area of the site, creating a new Training Garden with growing area, a polytunnel and an indoor Classroom building constructed from recycled shipping containers. The Training Garden will be used to deliver a programme of courses and workshops on growing, and volunteer placements giving valuable work experience and accredited training.Funding is in place for the project and they are hoping to start work on site this summer.
Suzy encouraged people to get involved in Greener Kirkcaldy, by taking part in activities, becoming a member, receiving their monthly newsletters and volunteering. Suzy closed by applauding the work and contribution of 50 + volunteers who gave 2,950 hours of their time last year!
Participants were invited to discuss ideas and themes for projects to develop for their next Business Plan 2018 – 2023. The discussion was facilitated by Pam Candea from The Surefoot Effect. This was a very successful conversation which raised lots of creative ideas about future plans. These will be reported on separately.
In keeping with the theme of the event, we provided a delicious and colourful lunch from Falkland Kitchen Farm. The food eaten was either grown by them on their farm or sourced locally in Fife from other producers.
Following Greener Kirkcaldy’s Annual Gathering, “Food Matters”, the Annual General Meeting took place: AGM notes.
Greener Kirkcaldy would like to thank everyone that attended, our speakers, Greener Kirkcaldy staff, and volunteers, for your help in making this a great event.|