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  • 01/04/15
  • Comments: 1

Fife Diet Achievements and Reflections

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Blasda feast, Glasgow 2012

‘Why don’t we eat more food from near where we live?’ 

This was the simple question that began the Fife Diet – a year long local food experiment which has since morphed into an exploration of what sustainable food looks like, and a hundred more questions. Over an eight year period it has developed from a simple idea framed around ‘local eating’ to a complex holistic one about sustainable food, environmental justice, globalisation and culture.

We set out to build a sustainable food movement that popularised eating healthy, local produce in Fife. We started from the understanding that there is something fundamentally wrong with the food system but also from the thought that we can, if act collectively, do something about it.

We are delighted beyond our expectations at the support it has received and the impact it has had. We believe the projects success was based on its authenticity – i.e. ordinary people trying to do this for the first time, but also based on a fundamental truth, that is that we as a society will have to actually change our own behaviour, institutions and experiences to meet the challenges of climate change and that no magic bullet, techno-fix or legal sleight of hand will wish-away the reality we are all part of.

Crops are planted

Crops are planted, Dundee

The last eight years has made us realise that food has become central to the precarious economy, it has become a form of social control, and, while it remains a means for great change and a source for love, community and solidarity, it has also been captured and turned against us.

The ‘restorative practice’ of a better food system will only be victorious if we want it enough. But we think it’s there right now on the table in front of us.

Real progress won’t be made until we end hunger in Scotland and the disgrace that are food banks. It won’t be made until we regain control over our retail experience, and confront the profiteers that benefit from products that fuel our children’s obesity. It won’t be made until we create opportunities for the ‘right to grow’ and create an expectation of quality healthy food in our public institutions. Some of these arguments are put forward in our Food Manifesto.

There’s a whole lot more to be done if we want to be taken seriously as a ‘Good Food Nation’. We think that debate is just starting, not ending.

Here’s some of what we consider to be our key achievements on that journey:

CELEBRATING OUR OWN FOOD CULTURE It’s worth remembering that when we started we were met by a mixture of incredulity and poorly-disguised scepticism. People really didn’t think that you could eat food from Fife, and survive at all. It was just unthinkable, unimaginable.

CARBON SAVINGS In 2011-2012 we saved 1019 tonnes of C02e. Then, in a three year period (April 20912- March 2015) we saved a further 6976.37 tonnes of C02e. These are immediate savings, by diverting food waste from landfill thereby avoiding creating methane, for example, or by sequestering carbon and enriching soil with compost, but also by eating locally, growing our own food, eating organic, changing the meat we ate (and eating less of it).

OUTREACH We held or attended over 500 outreach events over the three years, engaging with 15,520 people.

Bathgate crew

Seed Truck in Bathgate

GROWING SPACES We established a community food growing garden, a wildlife and forest garden and a vibrant volunteer and community group who are maintaining them. We hosted 57 events at the garden, including the children’s gardening club, large community lunches and volunteer sessions.

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT We ran 79 weekly children’s gardening clubs (79 clubs over three years) and hosted 7 large-scale community events.

LEADING THE WAY We were part of building a new food movement in Scotland that encompasses the right to food, championing small producers, insisting on sustainability as a measurement of quality in food production and celebrating food sovereignty.

NEW ORCHARDS We planted 7 orchards around Scotland from Galloway to Sutherland with our Silver Bough tour (‘ a cultural conversation about apples’).

SCHOOL LUNCHES PILOT We collaborated with Fife Council and the Soil Association in a pilot project exploring regionally sourced, healthy, sustainable and organic school lunches. See here.

INSPIRATIONAL PRINTED MATERIAL We published a series of inspiring posters, postcards, booklets and other materials including recipe books, calendars, guides on native apple varieties and a booklet on gardening with kids. We also produced a free Ebook for our members of Collected Recipes from the life of the project.

BIRTHING THE ORCHARD COLLECTIVE We curated and hosted the National Orchard gathering and helping the Orchard Collective into existence.

THE BIGGER PICTURE We are proud to have been part of a wider movement and welcomed the collaborative work over the past eight years with such groups as Nourish, the Soil Association, Slow Food, Permaculture Scotland and Transition Towns.

 

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Sourdough Fife

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Gem and Anna

By Mike Small

Over the past eight years we’ve seen new food businesses rise and fall. It’s always good to support a new one especially since access to really good bread has been difficult in south and west Fife after Matthew and the Steamie Bakehouse moved south. So it’s great to see the arrival of Woodlea Stables outside Crossgates set up by Jock Sharp and Fiona Fraser. The List writes:

“His slowly fermented breads are lightly yeasted or made from sourdough starters, and include Italian white, ciabatta, malted wheat, baguette and wholemeal loaves, with specials such as caraway and pumpkin seed, or sundried tomato and basil. Organic Shipton Mill or locally milled Carr’s flours are used. As well as selling from the smallholding, the Frasers attend local markets, including the Walled Garden at Righead Farm.”

This weekend we visited and they reported shifting from 30 loaves a day to 400 over the weekend.  No wonder as the bread is amazing and well priced.

We’ve added them to our Food Map which will remain as a resource on this site. Go visit the map here and go to the Woodlea Stables facebook page here for more info.

[Note – they’re only open at the weekends at the moment.]

One Comment
  • Vohn McGuinness March 16, 2015 at 12:28

    The Woodlea Stables bread was the absolute hit of our community lunch in Inverkeithing, celebrating Fife Diet. It was the most talked-about product on our three-course menu and everyone remarked on how good it tasted and what an amazing texture it is.

  • 13/03/15
  • Comments: 5

The Soil and Soul of the Seed Truck

The Seed Truck was a three year project of ours. Here Fergus Walker looks back at the projects work and asks: “How do you sow the seeds of a better food system?”

It’s the project that put the culture into horticulture …

5 Comments
  • Beth March 14, 2015 at 18:46

    I totally agree with your comments on the funding Karin. I hope the seed truck funding grows!

  • frank comber March 13, 2015 at 23:06

    wonderful work your doing; so good to see

  • karin Chipulina March 13, 2015 at 15:31

    I really hope the seed truck can keep going. When there are masters in Gastronomy courses such as the one at queen Margaret which I have applied to do and a steady increase in the knowledge about communities learning to be self sufficient(I am a community development worker and do community gardening with Carr gomm in Craigmillar) why is the funding keep getting cut or why does it only last for a few years? It is totally unsustainable.
    We need to change this fundraising culture as well as our food culture and get things done by the people for people.Your seed truck is inspirational and I for one got free seeds and we used them, grew them and made a lot of soup that fed people in Craigmillar, was grown and harvested by them and made a garden look great. Many thanks

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  • 11/03/15
  • Comments: 0

Our Sunday Lunches

Here’s the first of our photos from this weekend’s lunches, that took place across Fife and beyond – send in your pictures to mags@fifediet.co.uk and we can add them to our story of the day!

Lochgelly

Our Elly tucks into a pot-luck lunch at Lochore Meadows

Our Elly tucks into a pot-luck lunch at Lochore Meadows

Contributions to the lunch included carrot hummus, american-style coleslaw, badger bean salad, celeriac and mustard soup, and fresh bread from Woodlea Stables - a Fife Diet favourite!

Contributions to the lunch included carrot hummus, american-style coleslaw, badger bean salad, celeriac and mustard soup, and fresh bread from Woodlea Stables – a Fife Diet favourite!

Happy lunch goers!

Happy lunch goers!

After lunch, the kids met the locals as we hunted for spring flowers, tree buds, and wildlife around the beautiful Lochore Meadows

After lunch, the kids met the locals as we hunted for spring flowers, tree buds, and wildlife around the beautiful Lochore Meadows

Burntisland

 

Getting ready for the film showing and lunch with the Fife Diet team in Burntisland

Getting ready for the film showing and lunch with the Fife Diet team in Burntisland

Guests enjoyed home made pizza, seasonal salads, and a peek at Karen's new recipe book ,The Fife Diet Kitchen - details of how to get hold of this coming soon!

Guests enjoyed home made pizza, seasonal salads, and a peek at Karen’s new recipe book ,The Fife Diet Kitchen – details of how to get hold of this coming soon!

Meanwhile, the local playgroup enjoyed a teddy bear's picnic, taking their teddies on a walk round the garden and having a go at sowing their own mini salads

Meanwhile, the local playgroup enjoyed a teddy bear’s picnic, taking their teddies on a walk round the garden and having a go at sowing their own mini salads

Inverkeithing

The brand new Inverkeithing Food Community held lunch at the medieval friary, and discussed plans for more local food events in the town

The brand new Inverkeithing Food Community held lunch at the medieval friary, and discussed plans for more local food events in the town

Check out their amazing menu!

Check out their amazing menu!

Co-host Pia kept smiling throughout - we love to see happy volunteers!

Co-host Pia kept smiling throughout – we love to see happy volunteers!

Join the new Inverkeithing Food Community and check out all their great photos from the day over on their facebook page here. 

Strathmiglo

The whole community turned out in Strathmiglo to enjoy lunch and discuss plans for a new community garden

The whole community turned out in Strathmiglo to enjoy lunch and discuss plans for a new community garden

Guests getting messy at the pizza making table

Guests getting messy at the pizza making table

A novel fundraising idea to help make the new community garden a reality

A novel fundraising idea to help make the new community garden a reality

Follow the progress of the new community garden in Strathmiglo on their facebook page here.

St Andrews

Tranisition University of St Andrews held a day long skill share extravaganza, including yoga sessions, bike repair workshop, and of course, lunch!

Tranisition University of St Andrews held a day long skill share extravaganza, including yoga sessions, bike repair workshop, and of course, lunch!

Student enterprise ReHarvest made saurkraut from local gleaned cabbages which was available to buy on the day

Student enterprise ReHarvest made saurkraut from local gleaned cabbages which was available to buy on the day

Find out more about Transition University of St Andrews, or the ReHarvest project.

Glasgow

Big thanks to Clem Sandison for all the photos from the Glasgow event

Soup and Samosas at the Locavore growing workshop and lunch in Glasgow

Soup and Samosas at the Locavore growing workshop and lunch in Glasgow

Participants learned about small scale growing for market at Locavore's Croft in Queens Park, before joining together for lunch

Participants learned about small scale growing for market at Locavore’s Croft in Queens Park, before joining together for lunch

It's great to see so many people in Glasgow interested in growing food for our communities

It’s great to see so many people in Glasgow interested in growing food for our communities

Locavore is a social enterprise that runs an organic local shop, community growing spaces, and market garden on Glasgow’s south side. Find out more about them here.

  • 09/03/15
  • Comments: 7

Create Your Own Food Movement

By Mike Small

For the last eight years we’ve been exploring how to build a sustainable food movement. We’ve tried to capture some key ideas and lessons learnt about what works.

We’re finishing documenting the whole project and next week we’ll be publishing our carbon report in full – but here’s a short film we made on how to create your own food movement, wherever you are…

7 Comments
  • Admin
    The Fife Diet March 16, 2015 at 09:22

    Thanks Ninian, Jackie, Stephanie, Teresa (!). Teresa’s point is a good one in that the system we have in Scotland is not uniform across Europe for various cultural, geographic and industrial reasons. It’s worth remembering that ‘eating food from near where you live’ is what most people have done over time and most people still do to this day. Globalised food is a very recent invention.

  • Ninian Stuart March 12, 2015 at 20:05

    Well done Mike et al, Great video. Inspirational project. Made waves and great cakes on the way – and got folk eating and growing all sorts of things from our own places and growing spaces. It was a fantastic journey from then to now – all the best now with your journeys into the future as you and (the growing) we sow seeds for our children’s and their children’s future.

  • Admin
    The Fife Diet March 11, 2015 at 10:10

    Thanks Mary, discordant voices always welcome! Our short film was more about the how than they why but we have always promoted organics and have always focused on practical biodiversity projects, like our Kaleyard garden.

    Organics is one of our key indicators for sustainable food, one of the six steps we advocate to our 6500 members.

    Read our blog on the subject here: http://fifediet.co.uk/2015/01/22/step-5-eat-more-organic-food/

  • mary mackenzie March 11, 2015 at 10:04

    Sorry to be a discordant voice, but, with our bees and now lots of our insects dying, not to mention us,I was hoping this video would mention food grown without pesticides or herbicides, ie organic. Just one wee mention!
    Ever since “local” became the buzzword, Monsanto has been laughing all the way to the bank.

  • Teresa Martinez March 10, 2015 at 21:03

    Thanks for the video guys. I have spent half of my life campaigning for different environmental issues and I never thought when I joined the Five Diet years ago that I was joining a Local Food Revolution, but I did. The Fife Diet is a very simple idea, just try to eat local and sustainable food from your region, this will support local farmers and the local economy and will connect you with your local community, and most importantly celebrate local food together. For me having the information to do the right choices about food it has been very powerful and in a way revolutionary. Our lives are in one way or another commodified, and making choices on a daily basis about what food my family eats, where it comes from, and how is produced and consumed has been transformational. I felt I was and we were collectively making a difference for our families, for our community,for the planet. Of course frustration was also part of the picture as the infrastructure and political will to make Local, Sustainable and Ethical Food mainstream is just not there. However, I feel these difficulties have galvanised hundreds of Local Food Initiatives, full of creativity, hard work and enthusiasm. Is Local Food always going to be a thing of a few, a marginal share of the market? I have recently moved from Fife to a town in Eastern Germany. There is nothing like the Fife Diet here, but regional food is definitely mainstream and affordable in this corner of the world. Local agriculture is flourishing, the food system is not perfect but it makes sense. It’s a fertile region so most of the food is produced and consumed locally and not sent around the globe. The land is not just in the hands of a few so allotments and little local farms are everywhere, making it much easier for the young generation to become farmers. It’s just great to see that its actually possible to have a regional and sustainable food system.

  • Jackie Arreaza March 10, 2015 at 13:19

    We have enjoyed being members of Fife Diet – thanks for challenging us!

  • Stephanie Mugo March 9, 2015 at 12:09

    Amazing video. It was really important for me to be reminded 1st that we need to think big. Then that the solution comes from us we just have difficult questions to handle. And also to think about who we are. But to me it goes even beyond who we are as people who grow their own food but who we are as to what we want to accomplish globally and who we are as members as this amazing community locally and in the whole. Thank you for this video and I cant wait to watch the update.

  • 05/03/15
  • Comments: 8

Introducing Common Good Food

cgf image

By Fergus Walker

As the days lengthen, the buds are budding and we prepare to enter what is traditionally known as the hungry gap, I am pleased to announce the formation of a new charity, Common Good Food, which is being set up by three of the current Fife Diet team and will be up and running later this summer.

Common Good Food (CGF) will be an organisation with its sleeves rolled up and its feet on the ground. It will be a hands-on advocate of food sovereignty in Scotland and will champion our right to healthy and sustainable food, supporting communities across the country to take control of the food system by running practical programmes: teaching skills, creating resources, and celebrating the culture of good food in Scotland.

The new organisation has its roots in the work of the Seed Truck, the colourful, Scotland-wide outreach project of the Fife Diet. Made up of a team of gardeners, cooks, storytellers, designers, artists and composters, the Seed Truck has traveled all over Scotland in the last three years – from Auchencairn to Aberdeen, the Black Isle to the Isle of Skye – visiting nearly 100 communities, delivering 400 practical workshops on how to grow and produce your own food, and has engaged with over 10,000 people.

The Seed Truck has visited community groups, schools, events and festivals, embarked on two week long tours and hosted a national orchard gathering, as well as helping to set up four new community garden projects. In our travels we experienced that there is a high level of demand for practical support from community groups wishing to participate in food production. Groups are often ambitious, but lack the confidence, training and tailored solutions to allow them to scale up to significant food production and build working local food systems. Therefore we will take a holistic approach, working in four areas:

CULTURE Encourage people to question our current attitudes to food and inspire them about their intimate connection with food, food production and the earth. Supporting wider community engagement through multimedia arts events and activities and beginning to develop a creative, public discourse, through cultural events and interventions, around the meaning of food, its place in our lives, its cultural role and the vision of the food commons.

SKILLS: Develop community capacity, foster resourcefulness and build knowledge and skills in food growing & food production. Development of a wide programme of training for communities ready to move into food production. Drawing on our existing skills and working with an established team of expert facilitators, we will offer in-situ workshops covering the full journey of food growing, from accessing land and designing gardens, to selling the final produce.

TECHNOLOGY: Design and develop appropriate low impact technologies and resources for community food production, exploring sustainable solutions for people and planet.  We will collaborate with gardening communities to develop innovative new tools, equipment and resources that will enable low impact food production. We will create a suite of equipment available for hire, as well as pieces commissioned for purchase. Experience has shown that the lack of processing equipment as a real barrier to small scale food production, and new solutions for portable juicers, vegetable washers, grain mills, etc would fill an urgent gap in the market. Plans for such equipment will be made freely available via the Farm Hack network.

FOOD COMMONS: Work collaboratively to promote the localisation of control over our food system and interlink and develop the elements required for more coherent local food systems. People’s wellbeing, their sense of community, their health and quality of life are directly connected to their relationship with food. We want to demonstrate that with the right support, communities can become more than just consumers. They can develop the capacity to grow their own food and begin to create and participate in the food commons. We should have access to a shared resource, held in common, that nurtures our innate capacity to feed ourselves, our wider community and to look after the land that sustains us.

We will adopt a commons approach to all aspects of our work, aiming to develop real community capacity and resilience in food production, sharing innovation and best practice, developing peer support networks in Scotland. In collaboration with other national and local projects we will support community food hubs develop innovative ways of bringing community-grown food to market.

Common Good Food will be set up as a SCIO (Scottish Incorporated Charitable Organisation). We submitted our application at the beginning of the year and expect to be registered and set up by mid-April. We have applied for funding and hope to be up and running later in the summer. We will be based at a smallholding in West Lothian, but we will be working across Scotland. The team that is leading the project is Fergus Walker (Seed Truck Co-ordinator), Eva Schonveld (Fife Diet project manager) and Mags Hall (Fife Diet membership and outreach co-ordinator).

The Seed Truck was a joint three year project between Fife Diet and WWF Scotland, and received funding from the People’s Postcode Lottery Dream Fund. We are very grateful to People’s Postcode Trust for the funding and encouragement in the last year to explore how to set up the Seed Truck as a more permanent organisation – without them we wouldn’t have been able to do it.

We will shortly be launching our website and a crowdfunding campaign. Keep a look out for more information coming soon!

8 Comments
  • Matilda Scharsach March 9, 2015 at 18:59

    How incredibly exciting is this?!…a project bursting with shoots of promise. We at Nourish Scotland look forward to working with you.

  • karen March 7, 2015 at 09:23

    Fantastic news – new shoots from old rootsock. Brilliant. Good Luck

  • Admin
    The Fife Diet March 6, 2015 at 13:33

    Thanks for all the good wishes folks! Looking foward to working with some of you in the future!

    Mags

  • Maria Scholten March 6, 2015 at 12:59

    Great to start the growing season with this offspring from the Seed Truck and Fife Diet.

    Looking forward to work together in the Highlands and Islands!

  • Annie Levy March 5, 2015 at 10:31

    EXCITING!!!!!!!!

  • Neal Robertson March 5, 2015 at 10:07

    Any time you need a tame chef :-)

  • Rachel Gillon March 5, 2015 at 09:46

    Fantastic news and a much need initiative. Will look out for your crowd funding announcement,

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  • 11/02/15
  • Comments: 0

Who Stole Our Apples?

The humble apple. It’s been central to Greek, Norse and Celtic mythology representing abundance and fertility, but now it’s a potent symbol of our broken food system.

From Adam and Eve to Steve Jobs via the Beatles and Snow White – the apple has had a constant public profile – a level of profile now embedded in the local food movement by the creation of The Apple Day (October 21) by Common Ground.

It’s been one of the huge successes of the local food movement re-establishing an interest in our apples and orchards. The apple is the ultimate unprocessed fruit – its healthy but with a hint of danger about it. What could be more perfect?

Apple_logo_Think_DifferentBut it’s not all rosy. It’s not all blossoming. There’s a rotten apple in the barrel: the Forbidden Fruit has become the Forgotten Fruit. Key questions remain:

Why do we import apples from New Zealand when we can grow them here?
What happened to our orchards?
Who stole our apple culture?

As Cate Devine of the Herald wrote recently:

“Despite it being the most popular fruit in the country, it is virtually impossible to find a Scottish-grown apple for sale. There are plenty of delicious English-grown traditional varieties available now for a limited time while in season, but the vast majority – about 70 per cent – are imported from France, Italy, Chile, America, New Zealand and South Africa.”

It doesn’t have to be this way.

In fact the Scottish Orchard Collective are determined that it shouldn’t be like this.

Formed at the Dunblane Orchard Gathering in November 2014 the group are planning practical action in 2015. From creating a forum for gathering our collective knowledge around best practice in nurturing orchard growing, to raising funds for scaling-up so we can juice LOTS of apples, we are looking for people to bring energy and ideas to the group.

Our next meeting is at:

Saturday 21st February, 12-4:30pm. Caledonian Brewery: 42 Slateford Road, Edinburgh, EH11 1PH

Mobile Juice Trailer by Kreuzmayr

Mobile Juice Trailer by Kreuzmayr

Do you have a vision for a project that you want to bring to life that will help the orchard revival in Scotland? For the Edinburgh meeting we are looking for up to 6 ideas that will benefit the wider network and will be up and running this year.

Examples of the kind of ideas we are thinking of:

  • Setting up a machinery ring to buy a mobile juicing plant that will crush, press, pasteurise and bottle juice from orchard fruit, and hire/share it out at harvest time to orchard projects across a wide area.
  • Co-ordinating future gatherings and training within the Orchard Collective
  • Setting up a concerted knowledge gathering project to record valuable advice and experience on varieties and practices from the old guard of orchard experts.

If you have an idea and want to take it forward, please contact Fergus Walker on fergus@fifediet.co.uk by Thursday 19th February

Go here to sign-up for the day on Eventbrite. (only a few tickets left!)

  • 10/02/15
  • Comments: 1

A Garden for Kids

grow1

We’ve produced this booklet distilling years of working with children at Broomhill (Burntisland) and at the Kaleyard (Kirkcaldy) – and all over the place.

Packed with practical ideas for how to run workshops, fun things to do, recipes and advice – this is the culmination of several years learning by Elly Kinross, our Growing Coordinator about what kids love doing in the garden.

If you run a community project, a youth group or a school in Fife – get in touch and we can send you a  bundle.

Includes: edible flowers, homemade butter, berry pancakes, quick jam, how to create a mini wormery – and tips for creating a Smell Trail! What’s that?!

Contact Elly at elly@fifediet.co.uk

grow2

One Comment
  • Rebecca Peacock February 11, 2015 at 08:12

    Primary teacher/outdoor educator, currently looking for work! Would be very interested to see what you’ve been doing if that’s alright :)

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