Blogpost: #OurField launch with a London Disco Soup!

On Thursday 1 December 2016, we gathered 70 good food folk in King’s Cross, London for the kick-off launch of our new project, #OurField, enjoying an evening of chopping, chatting and sharing perspectives on the food system. Thank you to everyone who joined us for the launch, if you missed out there's still time to jump on the grain train!

Hosted by the wonderful Global Generation at their urban sanctuary, The Skip Garden, the event marked the launch of #OurField, and brought together a diverse range of people from London and further afield! Guests were greeted by a magical space lit with fairy lights, chopping boards coupled with ‘cooking challenges’, and a combination of a crackling fire and deliciously hot alcoholic herbal concoctions from The Old Tree Brighton to keep them warm. 

Sipping a mulled spiced cider or a herbal honey mead, attendees were able to explore the urban edible garden (herbs and salad growing in skips - or a large polytunnel!), the diverse structures (a glasshouse made of recycled windows!) or get busy chopping up waste vegetables for what became a surplus-food dinner. Others shacked up in deck chairs by the fire, and listened to the atmospheric strumming of guitar, played by Mike Sebastian.

Chopping piles of recycled potatoes and peeling swedes, people were immediately able to ditch any facades and drop into collaboration and flowing conversation that can be hard to find amongst the skyscrapers of London. Meanwhile, others rolled up their sleeves and sliced up sourdough bread and got spreading mushroom pate for canapes, prepared by chefs Sadhbh Moore, Mickey Reedy and the kitchen team - eating as they went. We were lucky enough to have some amazing loaves of bread donated by Gail’s Bakery and Dusty Knuckle Bakery - important given the central issue of grains, bread and connecting with food.

The talks of the evening kicked off with an introduction into the #OurField project, the team, and how exactly a 40-person co-investment into a co-operative field would work! Guests heard about the emotional investment that would be necessary to take part in the project - and the sort of decision-making that would be made, alongside our facilitator, and our farmer, John Cherry over the course of the year.

We were also keen to point out that the £200 investment would be a real-life investment - and whether the group receive a return  (plus or minus a profit!) would come down to the decisions made through the year. In other words, co-investors would get a first-hand experience of the risks and the complex decision-making faced by farmers.

Next up Abby Rose of Farmerama Radio shared her experience of taking part in the year-long collaborative art project, A Field Of Wheat, which gave the original inspiration for the #OurField project. She described the emotional, even spiritual, journey that the community took in wrestling with balancing both morals and practical realities of conventional wheat production - a decision not usually faced by city-dwellers such as herself! A talented story-teller, Abby excerpted glimpses of the journey taken by her and her fellow co-investors.

The crowd was next treated to a series of interviews with three key players in #OurField: John, our first ever #OurField farmer; Romy Miller, the Marketing Officer of Gail’s Bakery and finally Steven Jacobs, Business Developer of OF&G Organic Certification. Attendees described the interviews as ‘really dynamic’ - and appreciated the open-floor format that allowed lively debate and discussion. It was as if we were setting the scene for the ethos of #OurField - collective engagement, decision-making and discussion. It was truly exciting to hear John share his real excitement to be part of the project and taking on this unique and unorthodox kind of collaboration. Romy and Steven gave us a great insight into the world of sourcing ingredients and organics - and the importance in moving back to a state of valuing good quality food for all.

"When we started talking about the impact #OurField could have on the consumer it was fascinating and something we would love to support."- Romy , Gail's Bakery

After the talks and a dinner of soup, salads and pizza-style bread with fresh toppings, people were glowing and had pretty much forgotten about the cold. The most heartwarming part of the evening was coming across unconventional conversations and blossoming collaborations. Large bakeries chatting to small, chefs to brewers, conventional to organic farmers. This is what #OurField is all about.

By the end of the evening, the air was filled with an excited buzz and the list of ‘interested co-investors’ totalled at 47! A truly exciting evening, and a fantastic way to launch #OurField with a bang. We’re looking forward for what comes next. 

Phoebe Tickell