Lewisham Local secured funding from Lewisham Council’s Creative Change Fund and 4in10 Charity to deliver foraging/growing activities to organise a mass foraging event on World Food Day as part of We Are Lewisham Borough of Culture Programme and London Challenge Poverty Week 17th – 23rd October 2022.
The full programme report is available for download here:
Below is an overview of the programme's activities.
Programme aims and what we wanted to achieve
Given the time of year, and in line with the BoC programme, the programme focussed on foraging activities, as well as cooking with foraged ingredients and food growing. We wanted to showcase local gardens and growing spaces with geographical spread throughout the borough.
The aims of this funding were:
1. Increase foraging, food growing and cooking skills and increase the number of people engaging in these activities
2. Showcase local growing projects, increase awareness of opportunities to get involved with food growing, increase volunteering in this area and enable new connections within communities
3. Increase awareness of local wild foods and growing spaces in Lewisham and enhance understanding of where food comes from
Thanks to the funding provided, a programme of local food events was delivered in October 2022 to mark Lewisham Borough of Culture, World Food Day on 16th October and London Challenge Poverty Week 17th – 23rd October. Nine projects were awarded £250 grants, eleven funded activities took place and additional non-funded activities as part of the programme. Activities included foraging walks in parks and around community gardens to identify edible and medicinal plants, cooking and preparing cold foods, as well as drinks, with foraged ingredients, making toiletries with foraged ingredients, mindfulness, growing activities, garden tours and meeting local people.
Approximately 200 directly engaged in the programme from attending a workshop or walk, and around a further 200 people looking at our list of gardens and foraging map. Activities took place with a good geographical spread north to south of the borough from Evelyn in the far north to Downham in the far south. Lewisham Local staff and volunteers were able to attend most of the events. It was great to visit gardens we hadn’t been to before, meet volunteers and learn about edible plants.
The group identified 15 species of plants, trees and insects. This area is full of delightful habitats, to discover, especially along the river Quaggy, in Lee.
“The amount of people who stopped us, impactful – seeing us looking at plants, walking, there’s so much food around us – we’re now using an app too: - take a picture put on app, moved us on and deepened interest” Joane Bailey, Queens Walking Group
On World Food Day, 16th October, the majority of activities took place. Two foraging walks took place in Hilly Fields, organised by Friends of Hilly Fields and Rastafari Movement UK, with Rachel Mooney (a local resident, geographer and landscape architect interested in public parks) leading the walks. Both sessions were fully booked and shared widely on local Facebook groups. Participants ranged from babies, children to adults. Each participant left with a posy of lavender to make tea, knowledge of over a dozen new wild plants identified in the park that are safe to consume, and the history and development of Hilly Fields Park.
In the north of the borough, a foraging walk around Bridgehouse Meadows/Gardens and meal with the picked ingredients was organised by Jupiter Woods/Grow Lewisham, with local chef and forager Danny Jack. Bridgehouse is a new commun
ity growing space in the making. The walk took over an hour, including picking sloe berries and salad leaves. . Preparing the foraged ingredients afterwards using Grow Lewisham’s Growmobile as a long table was a highlight.
In the South of the borough, there was a Black History Harvest Celebration at the Coco Collective Ital Community Garden (an afro diaspora garden growing culturally diverse foods and healing herbs) with gardening, cooking, food, storytelling, campfire and drumming. There was a community harvest where participants gardened and were shown how to harvest crops correctly. The harvest was given to the chef to be made into an Ital soup on site.
On Wednesday 19th, Foraging Fun for All happened at Breakspears Mews Community Garden. Participants were welcomed with freshly foraged Lemon Balm tea introduced to common edible foraging plants, and their properties, and were guided through the garden to identify the plants. On Thursday 20th, a second workshop was held at Breaksp
ears Mews: making a healing salve with ‘weeds’. Participants were talked through the process and ingredients for making a healing salve, helped to make it and discussed other plants that can be used to make similar products. Those who had not been to the garden before also had a mini tour, including black tomato plants.
Two Mindful Bees (a local group focusing on food and mindfulness) organised a foraging, growing and tasting workshop at Evelyn Community Centre in Deptford. Participants were shown foraged ingredients and told how to cook them, with some unusual ones like acorns. They were given a range of foraged and pre-cooked foods to try. The taster session generated interest beyond the direct participants and they are looking to get funding to do a weekly wellbeing, growing and cooking workshop tailored to local communities.
Freshly foraged ingredients and food made with foraged ingredients, participants trying the foods (Two Mindful Bees workshop in Deptford)
Downham Wild Food Adventure provided a guided foraging tour around the woodland, lawns and hedgerows in Downham fields and the woodland walk. Wi
th Theresa Webb (Kitchen Buddy) and local gardener Iffat. Following the walk, participants asked for more information about local community gardens, asked when the next events would be and were surprised and pleased that you can pick and eat things from your local park. “I learnt so much and am very grateful...really inspirational”.
A garden open day and growing activities at PNK garden in the far north of the borough took place. They hosted a garden party for local residents to get them to know that the gardens are open to all and there are free available spaces to grow vegetables. The created a short video of the event.
A Wild Food Forage and Feast also took place in Mountsfield Park, organised by the Friends of Mountsfield Park and Kitchen Buddy. A local independent food business Lee Greens provided some vegetables for the feast. A guided 1.5 hour walk took place. Participants collected many edible herbs and veg and then all helped to make a meal with the picked ingredients, including; lemon verbena herbal infusion; wild pesto; aubergine, lentil, yellow tomato salad and squash, date and apple dessert.
“We have shown a mixed age group how it’s possible to create gourmet salads using produce collected not very far from the venue. Everyone took home a container with left overs!”
Overall, the activities succeeded in reaching a significant number of diverse people who were new to foraging and didn’t know about their local gardens and are now keen to get more involved as a result of the activities as well as creating more links between existing projects and growers/foragers. The programme therefore achieved the intended aims and outcomes.
New Resources and Next Steps
As part of the programme, to help publicise the events and generate more interest in growing and foraging in Lewisham, Good Food Lewisham published a ‘list of growing spaces in the borough which identified at least 51 gardens and orchards identified across Lewisham Borough. This resource can be found of Good Food Lewisham’s website.
Good Food Lewisham and the Food Growing Network will continue to add and update this list as well as a map of growing spaces, and a local foraging map over the coming months. There are also plans to publish a local foraging guide and get more groups on the Capital Growth map of gardens in London and to encourage groups to access Capital Growth’s useful training and resources. A Good Food Lewisham Network meeting is planned for January 2023 on community and local food production to continue to build the Food Growing Network.
Many participating groups and individuals have asked when future activities will take place. Lewisham Local is keen to secure more funding to deliver a similar small grants programme in the spring to maintain the programme’s momentum. We would invite funders to get in touch to work with us to deliver future food related small grants programmes.
Lewisham Local would like to thank the programme’s funders, Lewisham Council and 4in10 and all who organised and participated in the activities.
The full programme report is available for download here: