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CASE STUDY: Eating together to build community

Green Community Hub: North Park Community Garden
Author: Ali Horton, Senior Lead, Gateway Collective

Food is really important to us at North Park Community Garden, we can grow up to 500kg of fresh produce every year!  The vast majority is shared amongst our community gardeners under the premise ‘if you want to get your hands on the food, your hands need to have been dirty in the growing’.  Any surplus is made into jams, pickles, and chutneys and sold locally as part of our sustainability strategy.

Our food is also used in our community lunches.  In every session we eat together, either on camping stoves on hopefully soon in our new kitchen, cooking with what we grow as this quickly builds community.  When we gather around the table with a bowl of soup everyone is equal and everyone is included.  Our recipes are on our website for everyone to use to replicate in their own setting.  In today’s world, the ability to cook with what you grow is a liberating experience that contributes to changing the world.

The Challenge

You need to be organized!  Cooking outdoors is often a challenge in the British weather, investing in a calor gas container (which needs to be stored safely outdoors) and a dual ring burner has been a game changer for us. 

The Solution

Have 6-8 good recipes which use a variety of veg that you can rotate.  Be aware of what is in season and use that.  Have your ingredients printed and available for people who have allergies.  Make a variety of soups, curries, and stews to keep a variety.  Sometimes you may need to cook at home and bring it to the garden – in this case, you need to get your house checked by environmental health and invest in a wonderbag to keep the pot warm. Keep everything vegetarian or vegan, it’s a lot cheaper, has fewer worries about undercooked food, and is better for the planet.

Results

  • You will naturally develop a team of community chefs who want to help
  • People will go and try recipes for themselves at home
  • You can regularly feed 15-20 people for less than £10.
  • Relationships between people will grow – expect laughter and conversation.
  • You’ll get less gardening done and a lot more chatting!

This case study was written by Ali Horton of Gateway Collective, you can find out more about their work below.

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