What's Tang Hall Food Co-op about?
The idea of having a food co-operative running from Tang Hall Community Centre came about over a year ago, when we noticed that food drew people to the centre. Food projects - such as Meet & Eat and Yourcafe, and Food Circle's Sunday local food stall and lunch - have all proved popular; 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. Philosophically, food banks do not fit with Tang Hall Community Centre's vision of a thriving, sustainable Tang Hall. Whilst we appreciate the good that food banks do, we think that an alternative food system, which gives 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 local community members and businesses about what they would like to see in their local area with regards to food. Acting on suggestions and expressions of interest from stakeholders, we formed a food co-operative, 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 Rowntree Foundation - two funders who share similar world views to us. We have also formed good links with similar projects and interested individuals, which we will continue to foster over the coming years. The project will initially run for two 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 vegetables together. This year, we've moved the growing project on site, so all our volunteers can enjoy the social activities at the centre. We already had some raised beds, but we've built more...now we need to fill them! We've purchased seeds from the Real Seed Company and have linked up with students at the University of York's Gardening Society to help us grow our seedlings; we hope these will be grown in the raised beds at the community centre. Customers of 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 co-operative - they even have a small potted herb growing scheme, which supplies us with beautiful fresh herbs.
In September 2018, we sited a 20ft shipping container on the multi-use sports yard, in front of the centre. We've kitted it out as a sustainable, ethical, zero-waste, packaging-free, not-for-profit wholefoods shop! There's still lots to do, but we're really gaining traction.
At the moment, we meet on selected Wednesdays and Thursdays (see calendar) at the community centre, for groundwork, gardening, casual cookery, running the shop and community lunches - 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 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 be able to shape its progress.
Choose Tang Hall Food Co-op for their food shopping.
How can I get involved?
If you're from the Tang Hall area, become a member of the Tang Hall Food Co-op! We need help growing food, running the shop, and making decisions about the project; we want local people to shape what we're doing and how we're doing it - it is a co-operative after all! We usually meet twice a week (see the calendar) and work together on the growing beds; we cook lunch in the container, run the shop and plan events. Don't worry if you've never done anything like this before, you simply need to be interested and willing to help. Everyone can offer something worthwhile to the co-operative.
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 learn about all the interesting ways you can cook seasonal vegetables and we can help you 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 source fresh, local, organic vegetables every week, which we then make available to everyone on a 'pay as you feel' basis. As we expand, so will our stock of dried wholefoods, which means you can buy your food locally, ethically and sustainably. Prices are very fair, as we buy in bulk at wholesale prices from ethical suppliers then sell the same goods to you in smaller quantities, at cost price. Tang Hall residents can apply for a membership card with additional benefits. All the produce will be carefully sourced, and we don't use plastic packaging. We also have recipe cards to help you make the most of seasonal vegetables. See our shop opening hours on the calendar.