THE PAST TWO YEARS: PUTTING MYATT’S ON THE MAP FOR GREAT, FRESH, LOCAL FOOD
We were awarded £55,280 by the Big Lottery Fund’s Local Food scheme and began our food project in April 2011. We knew that this area was rich in food culture, and that there were many talented local people who could pass on their knowledge of food from around the world. We wanted to give them the opportunity to cook with fresh vegetables and fruit grown in the greenhouse and to unite people in the simple act of eating together. Here’s what has happened since:
FOOD HEROES We have employed 50 Food Heroes who have taught 113 sessions over two years, including sharing knowledge about British, Jamaican, Eritrean, Ivory Coast, Nigerian, Mexican, north African, Russian, African, Indian, Aruban, Dutch, Polish, French, Italian, Brazilian, Mexican, Thai, Colombian and Japanese food as well as baking, pickling and preserving.
The sessions have included regular Saturday morning teaching sessions followed by a shared lunch, as well as cooking and giving away food at events and a greenhouse open day lunch on the first Sunday of every month. Local people say they have loved sitting around the table in our depot, sharing food and conversation and learning about each other’s food. Several of our Food Heroes volunteer at our retired people’s lunch and at other people’s food hero sessions, contributing their wisdom, competence and time for the benefit of other people and in support of the project.
YOUNG FOOD HEROES We have run 49 sessions of the young food heroes since autumn 2011. These have included regular sessions for children at Loughborough Primary School, who visited the park in groups of up to 7 children and picked vegetables or fruit and then cooked them with our food manager. We have also run an ice cream parlour, worked with young people from Charles Edward Brooke School and held pancake day celebrations and a barbeque for a football tournament.
RETIRED PEOPLE’S LUNCH AND FAMILY COOK AND EAT BREAKFASTS We have run 83 sessions of the retired people’s lunch and 76 sessions of the family cook and eat breakfast club. Both have been extremely successful, with increasing numbers so that we regularly have more than 20 people at the retired people’s lunch, and up to 30 at the parents’ breakfast club.
We aim to:
* continue the retired people’s lunch with the remaining funding from Local Food until end June, and have applied to Peter Minet Trust for funding to run this from July 2013 – June 2014.
* work with parent volunteers to continue running the parents’ breakfast club, and have two volunteers who are committed to this. If anyone is interested in volunteering, we would be very happy to hear from you. We will provide food safety training and will oversee health and safety for the sessions.
In June we will start a new World Food project. This will involve working with local cooks to map the history of Caribbean food. We want to trace the roots of this melting pot cuisine to Africa, Europe and the Americas, using local people’s knowledge, and then to create an interactive on-line map and resources that capture this knowledge. We also want to run workshops for children, teenagers and parents where local people pass on their knowledge and skills. We want to work with local cooks of all nationalities to develop a cuisine which is uniquely Myatt’s, teasing apart and building on the fusion that is Caribbean food. The whole project will be masterminded by a group of local people who can help design workshops, events and activities that will have maximum impact and reach the greatest number of people. Come to the consultation meeting in June.
Cook school: we will work over the next year to develop plans for a cook school at Myatt’s. This could include paid for lessons in a range of cooking skills (all based on using food freshly picked from the greenhouse), as well as some social activities. The cook school will provide accredited training for unemployed young people, who will work in the café and provide catering for events and activities in the park.
If you are interested in getting involved, you can:
* Help us map the history of Caribbean and its roots in Africa, Europe and the Americas
* Help us run the parents breakfast club
* Sign up as a Food Hero – we will be needing lots of people to teach other people to cook and to cook for events and activities. We will provide training and all needed support