We’ve been working with a bunch of brilliant people in Tower Hamlets, as part of the Just Food and Climate Transition Programme – Just FACT.
Just FACT is all about how much more we can do when we come together. Our partnership is made up of people and organisations who care deeply about communities in the borough, tackling climate change and improving local food.
We’re a year in and there’s a lot to celebrate! Here’s a flavour of what’s been happening….
Exploring innovative solutions to specific issues
Creating a local circular food system
R-Urban Poplar, run by Public Works, are creating a localised circular food system on the Teviot Estate. This year they started a compost club, where local food waste is collected and processed by a Ridan composter or an anaerobic digester. The digestate (fertiliser) and compost is then used for local allotments – 10 families are currently growing food on site!
Their Companions programme of open workshops has brought people together to grow, cook, eat and learn. This film will give you a flavour. There’s lots in the pipeline for 2022, check out their instagram to stay in the loop.
Increasing access to fresh fruit and veg
Food Coops make fresh affordable food available in a community space. We’re exploring whether they can be delivered at scale as part of a community-led local food system. Over the last few months, St Hilda’s East have been running pop-up Food Coop sessions. This has given people a flavour of running a food Coop, allowing them to see and learn first-hand what’s involved.
So far pop-ups have been run at the Teviot Centre, Cyprus Street Community Centre and Limehouse Town Hall. All are interested in setting up a permanent Coops and being part of a new network! If you’re interested in exploring a Food Coop at your site get in touch.
Creatively reducing single-use plastic
Run by Sunny Jar Eco-Hub, Plastic Free Poplar is all about reducing single use plastic in the Poplar area. Their workshops have brought people together to learn about the impact of single-use plastics, as well as new skills and creative ways to reuse waste. You can join their plastic-free living workshops that take place each month.
Pupils at local primary schools, Lansbury Lawrence and Manorfield Primary, sent letters to their local MP (125 in total!) sharing concerns about plastic pollution. They’ve been creating an art installation for Chrisp Street Market to highlight the plastic pollution problem and raise awareness in the community – coming soon! Stay in the loop here.
Scoping out an urban food forest
Cranbrook Community Food Garden have been exploring the possibility of a food forest that could extend the current community garden out into the heart of the residential estate. This could include berries and bushes, as well as fruit trees. They’ve also been drawing up plans to improve rainwater harvesting – exploring the best location for new water tanks. Research and trials into methods of mulching for water retention have also begun.
Removing plastic bags from markets
Led by conversations with traders and customers, retail experts Rice Marketing developed a phased plan for reducing plastic bag use fin Tower Hamlets celebrated markets. Last autumn 12 market traders signed an open letter to The Council asking them to support the roll out of the 10p charge, and create a level playing field for all traders. Since piloting the 10p charge, there’s been a 33% reducing in bag use in the 3 pilot markets, and traders report more customers are opting to put produce in reused bags. Conversations with the Council are underway to further support customers and traders, and work towards Tower Hamlets markets being plastic-free.
Mobilising diverse communities to take action
Young people’s voices in the climate conversation
Leaders in Community launched their Be.Green programme for young people to learn about climate change issues and take action together. Last year 7 young people took part in workshops, tours and interactive sessions – learning about climate justice, the journey our food takes, living plastic free and campaigning. They also had a trip to COP26. To take action they decided to interview family and friends and tell their story through a Zine, read it here! Spaces are still available for the 2022 cohort, if you’re interested get in touch.
Building a community food hub
Limborough House on the Burdette estate has been getting established, creating a new space for people to cook, grow and eat together. The site is being used to bring people together through events and workshops – there’s been a seed sharing day, workshops on herb propagation and kimchi making a shared ‘Low Carbon Lunch’ and much more. Wen are working with Poplar HARCA to redesign the garden – with works underway to transition to more communal plots.
Community organising on local estates
Parkview and Cranbrook Climate Taskforce (PACCT) are bringing people together on two housing estates in Bethnal Green – with a view to create a new hyperlocal climate action group that incubates community-led projects. So far they’ve had 150 conversations, through outreach stalls on the estate. The first workshop did not attract the representative mix of households, so they changed approach – and are now working with trusted local leaders from marginalised communities on the estate to begin building relationships and co-design activities. They also set up a space for white residents to learn about the dynamics of support and allyship.
Curious to know more?
Read more in our Year 1 impact report
Coming up – A Blueprint for Food Production
As part of the programme 24 people have been working with London Leap to develop a blueprint for a socially just and environmentally sustainable food system in Tower Hamlets. Over the last year the group have been researching better ways of producing food – focusing on what can be done within and around the borough. They will be publishing their research and recommendations in April, watch this space!
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