What’s Tang Hall Food Coop about?
The idea of having a food cooperative running from Tang Hall Community Centre came about over a year ago, when we began to see the way that food was drawing people to the centre. Food projects, such as Meet&Eat and Yourcafe and Food Circle’s Sunday local food stall and lunch have all been very popular, and we feel that bringing people together to share food is one of the best things we can do to address some of the issues people in our community face. We also became acutely aware of the increased use of food banks over the last few years, and philosophically, food banks do not fit with Tang Hall Community Centre’s vision of a thriving and sustainable Tang Hall. Whilst we appreciate the good that food banks do, we think that an alternative food system, which afford individuals autonomy, choice and control, alongside access to arguably superior food is a much more appropriate solution to current issues such as food insecurity.
Along with individuals, local enterprises and Tang Hall Big Local, we hosted a food summit where the future of food in the area was discussed. This was an opportunity for us to consult with local community members and businesses about what they would like to see in their local area with regards to food. Taking forward suggestions and expressions of interest from stakeholders, we decided to try and form a food cooperative, founded on aspirations to achieve food security, address food poverty, improve health, enrich the local community, create opportunities to access good food locally, and bring the community together.
So far, we have successfully secured grants from The People’s Health Trust and The Joseph Rowntree Foundation – two funders who share similar worldviews to us. We have also formed good links with other similar projects and interested individuals, which we will continue to foster over the coming years. The project will initially run for 2 years from July 2018, but we hope to sustain this project far beyond the initial funding period.
Glen Gardens allotments have kindly donated an allotment to us, and worked tirelessly over the winter to build our raised beds. We have purchased seeds from the real seed company and we already have lots of wonderful vegetables growing at the allotments and at the raised beds at the community centre. The customers at Community Base have been working on some signs for us, which we will be adorning the allotment with.
Our next task is to site a 20ft shipping container on the old multi-use sports yard infront of the centre. Once that’s in a place, we will kit it out and turn it into the sustainable, ethical, zero-waste, packaging-free, not-for-profit wholefoods shop of our dreams.
In the meantime, we will be having regular community lunches at the centre, prepared by our volunteers, using our own produce, or produce donated by other allotment holders.
We know we have a huge task on our hands, but we think we’ve got some excellent people on side and there’s always room for a few more!
Our objectives all relate to local residents of Tang Hall. We want local people to:
- Get together regularly and form community ties.
- Learn how to grow their own food.
- Learn how to make delicious food with seasonal local produce.
- Gain confidence.
- Feel healthier.
- Feel in control of the project and able to shape the project.
- Choose Tang Hall Food Coop for their food shopping.
How can I get involved?
If you are from the Tang Hall area, become a member of the Tang Hall Food Coop. You can volunteer with us at the allotment or the shop, and shape what we are doing and how we are doing it – it is a cooperative after all! We can share ideas, learn from each other, and help the food cooperative to grow. We will meet at least twice a week and work together at the allotment or in the shipping container shop. Don’t worry if you’ve never done anything like this before, all you need to be is interested and willing to help – everyone can offer something worthwhile to the cooperative.
We will be having regular lunches with food we’ve grown on the allotment and bits and pieces from the shop. We want people to know about all the interesting ways you can cook seasonal and local vegetables and we have chefs who will help you do this. Even if you don’t want to cook, you can still come along, enjoy a meal, meet other local people and find out more about what we’re doing. Sharing a meal is one of the best ways to find some common ground – people from all walks of life come to the community centre, and everyone’s got a story to tell.
Once our shop launches, we will aim to have a good stock of wholefoods so you can buy all of your food locally, ethically and sustainably. The prices will be good, as we will be buying in bulk at wholesale prices (from ethical suppliers), and passing those savings on to you, by selling at the same wholesale prices but in small quantities. Tang Hall residents can apply for a membership card with additional benefits. All the produce will be carefully sourced, and we won’t be using plastic packaging. We will also have recipe cards to help you make the most of the seasonal vegetables.