In 2021, EEA got commissioned by North East Lincolnshire Council to deliver a creative arts project themed around food which we titled Edible Grimsby.
As part of our co-creation model for this project, EEA formed a Steering Group of professionals working in the field of food and community in North East Lincolnshire. This model allows EEA to deliver work with different communities around the country and quickly learn of their main needs and wants, to define an ambitious programme of activity that positively impacts the different groups in the area. The group met on a monthly basis for over a year and provided vital advice on the direction of the project. It included:
- Mary Vickers, Community Food Coordinator for North East Lincolnshire
- Carol Prendergast, Director of Green Futures
- Ross Blackwood, Volunteer and Engagement Officer at North East Lincolnshire Council
- Ruchita Green, chef and owner of Masala Masters
The Steering Group identified 6 community groups spread across 6 key areas which fitted the criteria of having community kitchen facilities and growing spaces; both necessary to engage in the first part of our project. The partners by area were:
- Cleethorpes: The Trin
- East Marsh: East Marsh Involve
- Heaneage: Welholme Works
- Immingham: One Voice
- Nunsthorpe: Oasis Hub and Community Shop
- West Marsh: West Marsh Community Centre
Edible Grimsby is a project supported by Grimsby Creates that started in early 2022. Our aim was to use creativity to reconnect people with each other and ‘real’ food through providing opportunities for learning, sharing, entertainment and fostering community cohesion and wellbeing.
With Edible Grimsby we wanted participants to reconnect with food and with one another, and to discover new exciting ways to cook with ingredients that had been grown by the community in their community gardens, and to be able to share this food with others. For this Edible Grimsby worked in partnership with Green Futures Grimsby and the Community Food Coordinator at Sector Support NEL, who as part of their work engaged communities across North East Lincolnshire delivering cooking sessions as well as facilitated access to community growing spaces. The Culture House joined the project as the co-producers of the finale event and supported the community engagement over the summer.
Community Development Model #GrowCookShare
The aims of Edible Grimsby as well as our community engagement strategy were outlined with the tagline #GrowCookShare.
From the initial conversations with the Steering Group and community group leaders emerged that some of the communities in North East Lincolnshire were quite insular, and so we couldn’t take for granted that they would all naturally want to come to the town centre to attend a brand-new event like Edible Grimsby, or have interest in taking part in a collective community project that included growing, cooking and sharing with the wider community. This is why we set up a journey for the partners community groups:
- “Grow & Cook”. Here members would start small, connecting through cooking and growing sessions taking place in their area, and using some of the ingredients grown at the community gardens to learn new healthy and affordable recipes.
- Finally, “Share”, the celebratory moments ending with one major food & culture event that’s accessible and welcoming to all. During this phase we would scale up the members’ involvement offering an opportunity to put their learnings into practise for the public. First with food prepared to give away for free at their yearly community fetes over the summer and finally for the major ‘Finale Event’, bringing together participants from each of the 6 areas to collectively prepare free food samples for festival attendees.
Images below: This year, community growing in NEL includes projects in Nunsthorpe, Cleethorpes, East Marsh and the Heneage ward
PROJECT LAUNCH & CONSULTATION
The launch for Edible Grimsby took place online due to the pandemic with speakers including a representative from The Jamie Oliver Group and the Executive Director of Dandelion.scot an ambitious creative project “demonstrating the power of collective action in a unique growing initiative”. The event finished with a fun cook-along activity led by Jacqui Vessey owner of The Veganic Kitchen.
Once we were able to meet physically again, we organised a Creative Consultation meeting where members of the community as well as local community workers and creatives. We run this as an ‘open session’ model which involved an initial brainstorm that would define the main points of discussion for the day. Participants were free to flow between discussion groups and the session ended with a collective sharing of the main takeaways.
The Finale event for Edible Grimsby was co-produced by The Culture House and took place on Saturday 1st October 2022 in St James Square and inside Grimsby Minster. It was a celebration of food and creativity with lots of family fun and quirky walkabout characters that offered a fresh spin to the idea of a harvest festival. It included:
- Made In Grimsby Stage, a line-up of the best music talent from North East Lincolnshire.
- Feast of Ideas, a special series of talks tackling key issues and themes around food.
- Community Kitchen, Offered free food tasters prepared by ‘community chefs’ along with community volunteers who helped prepare the food and served 3,000 portions on the day. The menu was designed by local community chefs Becky Cook and Tracey Shields, who prepared a selection of healthy, affordable vegetarian dishes that can be made with produce grown locally by the community.
- The Wacky Patch, a fun harvest-themed mini trail with lots giant pumpkins, ugly gourds, and scarecrows made by the community
- Walkabout and Street Theatre Acts, a great selection of quirky characters and food-themed acts
- Site Décor, a selection of props and flags made with the community in partnership with local artists and organisations
IMPACT CASE STUDIES
Through our year of work in North East Lincolnshire, we encountered a few opportunities to support individuals and organisations.
Lowercasetheatre. A Grimsby-based theatre company championing young creatives & early-career artists led by Lisa February and Matthew Gray. Lowercase got commissioned to create a brand-new outdoor show that incorporated food and the key messages of Edible Grimsby. This sparked an exciting new creative collaboration between them and local chef Ruchita Green from Masala Masters, with a dynamic show that encouraged participants young and old to try new flavours.
Becky Cook & Trace Shields, Cook leads at the Community Kitchen. We met Becky when she was employed at Centre4’s Community Shop. Soon after, Becky started her solo career as a freelancer community cook and Edible Grimsby were their first ones to hire her under her new business name Cook By Name Cook By Nature. Through working for Edible Grimsby and Green Futures, she made new contacts and started to get more work. Becky also designed and coordinated the Community Kitchen with Trace Shields with excellent results feeding up to 3,000 people on the day. In her own words, the project “gave me a massive opportunity to learnt how things worked for events. As a local business it gave me the confidence to-do bigger and better things in the future”. Trace Shields had been running a slow cooker group at West Marsh Community Centre on a volunteer basis and Edible Grimsby gave her the opportunity to get paid work and partner with Becky – who she met through the project. After the project, Trace continued helping Becky at her newly opened café at St. Hugh’s Community Centre.
Images above: The Team at the Community Kitchen was led by Becky Cook and Trace Shields (left) with the support of volunteers from The Trin Centre
The Beatroot Collective at the Collective Spicy Ketchup. The Beatroot Collective is a local brand of high-end spicy sauces run from John Cadey’s own home kitchen in Grimsby. We approached John with the idea of making a sauce with locally-grown produce donated from the community, something that he had previously thought of inspired by another British sauce-maker's project. Edible Grimsby was instrumental in making this a reality and help his social impact goals as well as business. The Beatroot Collective and Edible Grimsby produced more than 200 bottles of the first-ever collective sauce in North East Lincolnshire, of which Beatroot Collective got a few bottles to be able to sell at a profit, while the rest were given back to the participating community groups for free. This “collective sauce” pilot project was a success and the brand could be easily expanded with different products, working as a cooperative model where the groups are able to sell these products and reinvest the money on their community gardens to keep them going year after year.
Follow the project on social media:
Edible Grimsby is part of Grimsby Creates, supported by North East Lincolshire Council and Arts Council England