The one question that people attending our events for the first time ask most frequently is “when did you start and how?” So here is a little summary of our journey, one year on.
1. It all started in conversations.
In Summer 2011, Fan was writing up her MA dissertation on local food, community, diversity and sustainability. This provided her with a good excuse to visit a lot of sustainable food projects all over London, and to have inspiring conversations with food people in Brixton and beyond. One of those conversations was with Steve Wilson, a professional chef, who started the People’s Kitchen in Passing Clouds, East London, and was keen to see the idea replicated in other places. Another of those conversations was with Brixton activist Hannah Lewis, leader of the Remakery, who connected Fan to a good number of local food heroes. And one of those food heroes was artist Virginia Nimarkoh, who had plenty of ideas about how to make something happen. In the meantime, Fan had met Camilla, who just said “let’s do it!”. So we did it.
2. Trying it out.
3. Becoming regular.
Pleased with how it went, and less terrified by the prospects of setting something up, Camilla and Fan decided to launch the Brixton People’s Kitchen in December 2011. We looked for venues, and found Myatt’s Fields Park. Myatt;s Fields Park have an amazing community greenhouse, and were already running weekly cook & eat sessions. They liked the idea of using food surplus, and decided to give us a chance, and let us use their kitchen for free. We put the word out, and got a few responses from people willing to help. We knocked at the door of almost every corner shop in Brixton to ask for food surplus donations, and somehow, this happened. It was freezing and we ate in a shed, but people seemed to like it, so we started holding monthly meals, getting better and more organised each time. Seeing that the project was here to last, Steve’s People’s Kitchen kindly gave us £750 of funding from the donations they had received to set this up.