Urban Food Fortnight 2015

Way back in mid-summer sometime, we attended a ‘Get Ready for Urban Food Fortnight’ event hosted by organisers Sustain. During the evening, we received tips about how best to tackle the 2-week event, which included the advice: “Don’t take on too many events”. I think we may have ignored that one. Here is a round-up of what has happened so far!

Gosnells London Mead & Hackney Herbal Collaboration [UFF Day Two: 12th September]

We were lucky enough to meet Gosnells, London’s first mead brewery (a.k.a. meadery), through yet another one of Sustain’s pre-UFF events. This resulted in the creation of meads infused with herbs grown by our partner sites across Hackney!

We celebrated our minty meads with an event at the Gosnells Peckham site. Don’t worry though, you can still try their awesome Orginial and if you’re lucky, Mint Mead at their site at: Unit 2, Print Village, Chadwick Road, London, SE15 4PU. Check their Facebook or website for more details.

Gosnells + Hackney Herbal collaborative event (Photo credit: Gosnells Facebook Profile)
Bake & Blend 2.0 [UFF Day Three: 13th September]

A collaborative workshop between Hackney Herbal and The Bread Companion – the nomadic micro-bakery. Hosted at Julia’s (The Bread Companion) studio near London Fields, attendees learned the essentials of how to make their own bread from learning about ingredients to the ‘baker’s percentage’, from enriched dough to baking in a brick oven.

Photo credit: Eleanor Howarth

Photo credit: Eleanor Howarth

Herbs and bread are natural companions so we made lavender dough and rosemary focaccia.

Lavender: Used to soothe, sedate and suppress. A drop of oil on the temple can relieve headaches and can also soothe skin complaints, inflammation and rheumatic aches.

Rosemary: Oil contains anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. Makes a good mouthwash and stimulates the smooth muscle of the digestive tract.

After lunch and whilst dough was proving, we launched into an introduction to herbs, focusing on the constituents of our ‘Reflection‘ blend: fennel, rosemary, lemon verbena and peppermint. Designed to aid both mental (rosemary and lemon verbena) and physical (fennel and peppermint) digestion. The session culminated in the design and creation of personalised herbal tea bags.

Photo credit: Eleanor Howarth
An Evening of Herbs [UFF Day Six: 16th September]

It had been raining all day. We were all damp but we had an event to organise! We weren’t going to let a little bit of British weather ruin our vision for a herbal haven in a working polytunnel of Hackney City Farm.

Our lovely attendees fought through the grim weather and made it to the farm. We warmed them up with steamy cups of the herbal ‘Reflection’ blend and they tucked into nibbles including sourdough provided by social enterprise Better Health Bakery. Thankfully, the rain eased in time to start the workshop and we were able to hear Nat without the pitter-patter of rain on plastic sheet.

031028Through facts, myths and legends, we told the story of herbs and their importance to humans throughout history. Memorable anecdotes and surprising revelations punctuated the evening, hopefully adding substance, wonder and a little magic to people’s understanding of herbs.

As the evening’s light faded, we were plunged into darkness. With only candlelight and the hum of traffic from Hackney Road getting ever more distant, we learned of the methods employed to best dry and store herbs. Herbs strung up to the metal skeleton of the polytunnel demonstrated a common and simple drying method. Jars on the table featured an attractive way to store (and display) dried herbs.

We moved indoors for the final instalment of the evening and where attendees received their herbal tea starter kits (including muslin, string, tags, feverfew and calendula seeds). Now they have no excuse! Here’s to home grown herbal tea!

Photo credit: Kat
Still to come:

Sunday the 27th September 2015 | Herbal Tea Party – A free event held on Gillett Square celebrating the successful launch of Hackney Herbal and mark the end of Urban Food Fortnight 2015. Click here for more info.

Photo credits:

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Thank you to Eleanor Howarth for recording Bake and Blend 2.0 in such beautiful photographic fashion. You can follow her on Instagram: @ehowarth

Thank you to Kat for photographing An Evening of Herbs and both her and Fran’s help on the day.

Thank you to Steve for your hard work at Bake and Blend 2.0.