A dozen events, visits, training sessions and talks are taking place during Manchester's Food & Drink Festival, all focused on different aspects of sustainability and our city's food.
Kindling's Chris had the pleasure of attending MERCi's workshop on How to Grow Flax and came away with a fuller understanding of the potential such urban agriculture holds for our derelict land.
Just down the road from MERCi's Bridge 5 Mill a very unusual crop has been growing this summer - flax. The Sow Sew Project was the winner of a competition to find a temporary use for open space in New Islington and when the flax is harvested in a few weeks it will be turned into fabric and given to artists to work with.
We had the pleasure of accompanying fourteen young adults to Glebelands City Growers on Monday (15th August 2011).
As part of a European exchange programme organised by Youth Discovery Ventures, particpants came from London, Sheffield and Holland to be part of a youth volunteering project for a week here in Manchester.
Most had little experience of food growing, in fact a few had never been on a farm before, but all where enthusiastic to learn, asking questions and helping out with the tasks.
Something big is happening in Manchester's sustainable food movement . Over the last week Manchester Veg People (MVP) has seen huge progress in its work to bring together organic farmers and progressive buyers.
MVP is now an official co-op – a unique co-operative to adopt a business model bringing local growers and buyers together in a relationship of trust to plan how we feed Manchester sustainably.
MVP has submitted an RPDE bid for financial support of £60,000 to build the business and bring on-board more local farmers.
Kindling's Helen is joining the UK delegation to attend The Nyeleni European Forum for Food Sovereignty from the 16th to 21st of August 2011.
Next month six hundred people will gather in Krems, Austria from over 40 countries to: articulate a regional plan for food sovereignty based on the very rights of people, the potential and the constraints of European territories, the need to cool the planet and to restore ecological services.
Forty-seven people made it to the seventh FeedingManchester gathering on the evening of Thursday 21st July, where we mixed business and pleasure.
With people from Stockport, Oldham and Liverpool and a mix of social enterprises, charities, private businesses and individuals the formal and informal discussions were fascinating.
The first half of the event (from 5 til 7.30pm) focused on sharing stories of our work; exploring opportunities around the Food & Drink Festival and reviewing Manchester's Sustainable Food Steering Group progress over the last year.
Kindling accompanied Greater Manchester growers and campaigners to the Stop GM (Genetic Modification) Rally in Norwich on Saturday 23rd July.
A decade ago anti-GM mass action dealt a series of blows to the biotech industry, resulting in the removal of GM from all supermarket own brands as well as the major brands as consumers and farmers roundly rejected the technology. While the last few years have not seen any field scale trials of GM crops the biotechnology industry has not been dormant, rather it's been changing tactics, sharpening its PR drive and focused on new GM products.
Some of Manchester's most sustainable food enterprises once again came together today, this time to explore: what is a local food system and what does it need to thrive?
Glebelands City Growers hosted a meeting of Moss Brook Growers, Unicorn Grocery, The Kindling Trust, Manchester Abundance, Hulme Community Garden Centre, DIG Food and the national organisation: Making Local Food Work, (MLFW).
A dozen volunteers spent an afternoon on Wednesday 6th July out in the countryside helping local organic growers.
Kindling spent much of Tuesday 5th July at the Food For Life Partnership Northern Awards ceremony at Manchester Town Hall, where schools and caterers were acknowledged for their hard work to increase the uptake of healthy sustainable food.
In front of a hundred delegates, eleven schools from the North of England were congratulated for their fabulous work in transforming food culture in their schools and communities. We heard about the inspiring work going on across the North to reconnect young people with healthy food produced by local farmers.