Weald Community Food Centre update

We’ve been having some lovely messages from people who use the fridge, or our delivery service, and it’s a while since we shared any of them with you, so here’s a recent one from one of the organisations we support with supermarket surplus food combined with donated fresh allotment produce:

“Just thought you would like to hear about a little boy at our school who wrote a note for the ‘worry box’. he said he was worried that they didn’t have enough food to eat at home. We made up a large bag of assorted food and sent it home on the minibus with him. Thank you, you are all doing a fantastic thing.”

Thanks to everybody: the fridge heroes, the foragers, the allotment-holders who donate food, the delivery team, everybody who make sure little boys like this can stop worrying!

Weald recipes: quince

A kind, anonymous donor gave us two bags of quinces for this week’s community fridge. Having added them to our Sunday deliveries, and knowing that there are some left over for Thursday’s fridge session, we thought it would be a good idea to post some recipes for this little known but delicious fruit. First of all – its nutritional qualities.

Quinces are high in vitamin C, zinc, potassium, copper, iron and fibre, making it a heart-healthy addition to your diet.

The easiest way to cook quinces is to poach them. Cut them in half with a large sharp knife. It’s a bit like cutting wood because quinces are tough! Then peel them with a vegetable peeler before cutting out the core with a small sharp knife. Again, take care, as the quinces are really dense to cut through. Drop the slices into water with a splash of lemon juice to stop them discolouring.

Make a syrup with water, sugar and spices. The quantities are up to you, but the syrup should cover the quince quarters. Good spices include cinnamon, cloves, ginger, star anise, vanilla, mace and nutmeg and you can use honey, agave nectar or maple syrup to sweet the syrup if you don’t use sugar. Bring the syrup to a boil, gently add the quince quarters and either cook for 50 minutes to an hour or put in a slow cooker for up to nine hours until the fruit is orange to ruby coloured and tender.

You can now eat the quince, with the syrup and cream, ice-cream or yoghurt, or you can move onto another recipe such as quince tarte tatin.

For the pastry
300g plain flour
220g butter
100g icing sugar
3 egg yolks


Filling

Poached quinces drained of syrup
100g caster sugar
100g butter

Preheat the oven to 250C and make pastry by rubbing together flour, butter and icing sugar until they resemble breadcrumbs, or using a pastry cutter or food processor. Add the egg yolks and mix with a palette knife until it forms a dough. Wrap in film and put in freezer for 60 minutes

While the pastry is chilling put 85g of sugar in a pan and cook on medium heat, supervising to allow the sugar to caramelise a little and become golden but not to stick or burn. Pour into buttered baking dish and arrange quince slices on top. Sprinkle rest of sugar and butter on top.

Grate the chilled pastry mix with a cheese grater over the quinces until it forms a thick layer, but don’r press it down, instead turn the over down to 220C/Gas 7 and bake for around 20 minutes. Rest for five minutes then invert onto a serving dish.


Weald kitchen (not) open for business!

Since April we’ve been seeking funding and obtaining wonderful goodies for the Weald Allotment kitchen. It’s been a slow process, much complicated by COVID-19, and by trying to keep our food deliveries going and our fridge open.

At last we’re nearly there! We’ve got kitchen units, portable hobs, stock pots and knives, aprons and chopping boards and crockery and cutlery … just in time for Brighton and Hove Council to declare a threat level of amber and limit what we are all able to do.

So, bearing in mind that we want everybody to remain safe so we can continue to open our shop, offer food from our fridge and make deliveries to those in most need, this is the closest that most of you will get to our amazing new community kitchen until COVID-19 is over. However, we will be going ahead with our Soup Sunday on 1 November, so you’ll get to see the products of the kitchen, even if you don’t get to see the kitchen itself!

Thanks to Brighton and Hove Allotment Federation, the Sussex Crisis Fund, the Argus Appeal, the Community Fund, and the Rampion Fund for equipping our amazing new facilities.

Weald Community Fridge changes (again!)

As many of you will already know, Brighton and Hove Council has increased our local COVID-19 threat level to amber. This means we’ve had to look again at how we can provide food safely – because not only do we want to ensure our volunteers and fridge users are kept safe – we want to try and keep our services running throughout this difficult time, and if we end up with a COVID-19 contact notification, we will all have to self-isolate, which could mean closing the fridge to all our potential users.

So … we ARE staying open. Come and see us on Thursday 8 October between 10.00 and 13.00. We ARE welcoming all fridge users, current, past and new to us. We ARE continuing our Sunday deliveries to people who have special reasons not to be able to visit the fridge.

However, from this week we won’t be allowing people to come into the Weald kitchen – instead we’ll be pre-bagging food (if we already know you, and know you have specific dietary needs, we’ll do our very best to tailor a bag to your requirements) and handing you that bag at the door. We hope this means that we’ll be able to stay open every week throughout the winter.

We’re also starting our Soup Sundays on 1 November, but to ensure everybody remains safe, we’ll be serving the soup from our amazing new purple gazebo and asking you to take your soup back to your plot to eat, or at least not to congregate in groups larger than six.

Winter mini allotments update

Our first mini-allotment seedlings have arrived! Courtesy of Brighton and Hove Organic Gardening Group (BHOGG) who have an amazing plot, and some learner plots, at Weald, we’ve been given a trayful of Ragged Jack and a trayful of chard seedlings. You can see Alan Phillips, from BHOGG who grew on these Fork and Dig plug plants, handing them over to Heidi Watts-Emirali, the Weald committee member who created the summer mini-allotments with the help of her daughter.

If you have any winter crop seedlings that could be grown easily in a pot, and would like to help us spread the joy of ‘growing your own’ to the people who use the Weald Community Fridge (or receive a food delivery) please drop them off at the shop any weekend.

Weald winter mini allotments

We’re about to start offering mini allotments to our Community Fridge and delivery users. These mini allotments contain crops that they can pot on and grow at home and we offered them in summer when they were a great success.

For our winter offering we already have some chard and ragged kale plug plants, courtesy of BHOGG, and we have some small chive clumps that can be potted up and shared around. However, if you have a few winter seedlings that don’t:

–Need staking – like Brussels sprouts

–Take up a huge amount of room – like perennial broccoli

–Require specialist conditions – like blueberries …

then we’d love to receive them to add to our mini-allotments.

You can bring seedlings to the shop on Saturday 09:30 to 13:00 or Sunday 11:00 to 1300 or Thursday 10:00 to 13:00. Thank you for helping to feed our city.

Community fridge donations …

Our wonderful bread shed has been a huge success. However, over the last week we’ve noticed that people are getting a bit confused about what goes where!

So … if you’re putting out food for people to take as they pass – feel free to leave it in the bread shed outside the Weald shop and somebody will help themselves pretty quickly! However, if you want the food you donate to go to either the Thursday Community Fridge or to our Sunday deliveries, please make sure you put it:

In the crate in the Memorial Garden on Saturday between 11:00 and 13:30

or

In the crate outside the Community Fridge on Thursday between 10:00 and 13:00.

That way we can guarantee your food donations end up with the people you’d like to receive them.

Weald Community Food Centre – update

Wow, well things are still moving fast here at the Weald! Along with our wonderful new Bread Shed, we’ve just been granted a further £1,000 funding which we will use to continue to provide food throughout the winter and into 2021 – it allows us to make some contingency plans in case we end up in a COVID-19 Phase 2, such as buying a sturdy gazebo to allow us to distribute food outdoors if we do end up having to close the kitchen, and a polytunnel to raise crops reliably and continue our ‘mini allotment’ delivery scheme throughout the colder months.

We’ve also had to revisit our plans for Soup Sunday. This part of our work was due to begin in September, but because we have funding to buy proper kitchen units, and because we need to redesign the project to take account of COVID-19 restrictions, it won’t now start until November, but we do hope to be providing a wonderful vegetarian soup every month from November to April. It will be a donation only process – we invite our allotment-holders to bring a mug to be filled and pay what they think the mug is worth, and it’s completely free to anybody over 65, as the purpose of this project is to offer older people (especially those who live alone) an opportunity to enjoy some hot food and a bit of company. If necessary, we’ll do Soup Sunday from the gazebo too, so watch this space!

It’s been an astonishing six months for our project, with as many plot twists and surprises as a thriller novel. Thanks to a great bunch of dedicated volunteers, we’ve managed to meet every challenge thrown at us, and to keep supplying great quality food to our allotment-holders, our local community, and people across Brighton and Hove who are most at need of fresh fruit and vegetables because of health needs. If you’d like to help the Weald Community Food Project through the next six months, please email wealdallotments@gmail.com to find out what else we’ve got planned for the future!

Weald’s wonderful bread shed!

One of the most amazing things about the Weald Community Food Centre is the way that it’s grown through the input and support of so many different people. Today, when we opened the community fridge, we found a new addition – a bread shed!

Andy, the allotment stalwart picture above, has been watching us put surplus bread out in boxes when the fridge’s opening hours end. Apart from three baguettes and 12 white rolls, all the bread has always been taken, but he thought it would be much nicer if we had a bespoke display cabinet for it … so he made us one!

It proved to be a hit – now our allotment holders can grab some bread as they pass the door while our fridge users get to browse the shed and choose their own bread while they are queuing for access to the fridge itself. Thank you, Andy.

Here’s Claudius demonstrating just how to use the bread shed …

And this is how our non-fridge items looked today, without all that bread piled up around the display table!