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.
Last year, we hosted Tang Hall Big Local's 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 Rowtree 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.
Last year, Glen Allotments kindly built raised beds for us, where we grew our own veg together. This year we have moved the growing project on site, so all of our volunteers can enjoy the social activities we have on at the centre. We already had some raised beds, but we have built some more - and next we need to fill them up! Last year, we purchased seeds from the real seed company and this year, we have made links with students at the University of york Gardening Society to help us grow our seedlings - we hope that these will be grown on at the raised beds at the community centre. The customers at Community Base have been working on creative projects to help bring the project to life, such as building planters and creating bespoke hand painted signs for the cooperative - they even have a small potted herb growing scheme, supplying us with beautiful fresh herbs.
In September 2018, we sited a 20ft shipping container on the old multi-use sports yard, in front of the centre. We have kitted it out and turned it into a sustainable, ethical, zero-waste, packaging-free, not-for-profit wholefoods shop! There's still lots to do, but we are getting there.
At the moment, we meet on selected Wednesdays and Thursdays (see calendar) at the community centre, for groundswork, gardening, casual cookery, running the shop and community lunches - which are prepared by our volunteers, using our local organic produce.
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 meals with seasonal local produce.
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! We need help growing food, running the shop, and making decisions about the project - local people can shape what we are doing and how we are doing it - it is a cooperative after all! We usually meet twice a week (see the calendar) and work together on the growing beds, cook lunch in the container, run the shop and plan events. 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 cook in the shipping container shop on selected Thursdays from 10am (see the calendar), then, we eat! We cook with organic food we've grown ourselves or locally grown organic food purchased from Joe (Food Circle York) 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 can help you to do this. Even if you don't want to cook, you can still come along, and enjoy a sociable lunch with us at 12:30/1pm. 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.
We get fresh, local organic veg every week, and it's available on a pay as you feel basis. As we expand, so will our stock of dried 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. See our shop opening hours on the calendar.