LAUNCHING CLIMATE ACTION IN TOWER HAMLETS

TRANSFORMING OUR FOOD SYSTEM

Just FACT (Just Food and Climate Transition) is our ambitious new community food programme, that’s grown out of a decade of local food work in Tower Hamlets. 
It’s such an exciting project for us! It brings together an amazing network of community partners to work on a 5 year programme, which aims to transform our local food system into one that is better for people and the planet.  Here’s what we’ve been up to so far!…… 

SUMMER LAUNCH EVENT 

In July we brought together friends and partners together to mark the official start of the programme and celebrate the work that’s already being done. It was a great chance to see old friends and make new connections.  
Summer launch event
At the event we remembered past social justice movements in Tower Hamlets, hearing stories from across the decades (and centuries!) of people who took local action, and whose work has reverberated across the world. Read the stories here.  Together we planted two trees, which will tour partner sites over the 5 years. An Olive Tree which represents peace and longevity, and a Pomegranate Tree which represents abundance and love. More about the trees here!  We also commissioned new public polling which revealed that 85% of people want to reduce the impact of the food system, but 53% say that cost gets in the way. More findings here. 

BLUEPRINT ARCHITECTS 

Led by our friends at London LEAP, the ‘Blueprint Architects’ are a group of community members who are helping develop our ‘blueprint’ for a better food system in Tower Hamlets. 
This summer we welcomed 4 more folks to join our now 24-person strong group from different places, heritages, ages, faiths, genders and communities across the borough. In June we held our first ‘Action Circle’ – a space to meet in a smaller group and interrogate some of the aspects of the Blueprint research that emerge from our whole group convenings.
We met at Limborough Hub garden in Poplar (see photo) to share a meal and explore our judgements around what makes good food, our priorities when buying food, and mapping places we consider to be food assets for Tower Hamlets. Our second research convening also took place in June – the architects considered different aspects of our food system and took part in collective decision making to choose the theme they will explore for the rest of the year, which is … Food Production! Many of the Blueprint Architects came along to the Just FACT launch event, including Fatima and Aneita, who were interviewed for our launch press release and the August edition of “In The Spotlight” on the Wen blog! More about Fatima and Aneita. 

COMMUNITY HUBS 

The 3 Community Hubs are centres at the heart of housing estates in Tower Hamlets, where diverse communities come together to share ideas and take practical action. 

Parkview and Cranbrook Climate Taskforce (PACCT) 

We have held four Social Stalls in the estates, asking people what they love about nature, our planet and our neighbourhood, and what fun things we could do together to support nature. People interested in forming the PACCT community group were then invited to a workshop where we began to draw those ideas together to co-create a community vision. The process of supporting and facilitating the community to take climate action together has started! We’re excited to see what emerges.  

Be.Green, Leaders in Community 

Be.Green is in its 7th week and we have had some standout workshops from some amazing facilitators. Young people have been learning about the history of climate change, how our food systems contribute, what a low waste lifestyle looks like, the processes involved in getting a banana to your kitchen and what food composting looks like. It has been whistle stop tour of various issues so far and we look forward to seeing what campaigns take shape. A highlight was definitely seeing the young people at the launch event and them getting to meet each other in real life! More about Be.Green. 

Limborough Food Hub, Wen (Women’s Environmental Network) 

In June, we held our Sharing Day, as part of this year’s Keep Growing campaign. We invited local growers to be Growing Champions. We also held workshops over the school holidays. Local children and families, as well as the community gardeners, have been learning about herbs and how to take cuttings, painting pots for seedlings and making beautiful screenprints of wonderful weeds. We’ve started a series of outreach stalls to find out what people want to see at the site, as we develop it in a thriving community food hub. More about Limborough Hub.  

COMMUNITY LABS  

Community Labs are projects looking at specific innovative solutions to issues within our food system. 5 of these are already confirmed – and build on existing best practice. More labs will be funded throughout the programme, based on recommendations from the blueprint. 

Plastic Free Poplar, Sunny Jar Eco Hub 

We have been building relationships in the community with different groups and talking to local businesses and their customers about their single use plastic consumption and their aspirations for change. It was great to realise we shared many ideals and frustrations , and discover what people already do in terms of recycling and upcycling. Like the lovely lady who owns a café in the middle of the market square and saves her plastic milk bottles for the pie and mash shop who use them as gravy containers. More about Plastic Free Poplar. 
Sunny Jar Eco Hub

Climate Markets, Stephanie Rice 

We’ve been exploring how the borough can drastically reduce plastic bag usage. Our current estimation is that Crisp Street market alone gets through 2 million plastic bags a year! We’ve been speaking with traders and shoppers, exploring challenges and opportunities for removing plastic bags. Importantly we’re looking for solutions that do not cause harm to their livelihoods. We have presented our findings to the Market Services Team at the Council, and will be working with them over the next 6 months on the transition away from plastic bags. More about Climate Markets. 

Cranbrook Community Food Garden 

The Just Fact Action Group has been assembled and has met twice already. At our most recent meeting in August, we solidified our plans for our two projects: the planting of fruit bushes on the edge of our community garden, which we hope will provide a source of free fruit to residents of the Cranbrook Estate; and the implementation of a more sustainable water system for the garden, centring on increasing our rainwater harvesting capacity. Now the Action Group has confirmed its shared ambitions and priorities for the two projects, we can begin sharing our ideas and plans with other groups and parties, such as the residents of the estate, which is an exciting prospect. More about the project. 
R urban

R-Urban Poplar 

We hosted a number of amazing workshops across July and August, from building hydroponic salad towers to studying insects, pests and diseases. We’ve hosted cooking workshops to make delicious samosas and giant salads. We’ve also enjoyed teaming up with Leaders in Community to run sessions as part of their Be.Green programme!  The Compost Club is also fully up and running, meaning we’ve been collecting food waste from local families and turning it into compost on site. We’re currently collecting about 30kg per week and have capacity for more – so let us know if you’re interested in joining. Meanwhile growers have been harvesting tomatoes, cucumbers, coriander, courgettes, strawberries, potatoes… the list goes on! More about R-Urban Poplar. 
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Find out more about the JUST FACT PROJECT

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