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Food Sustainable Food

Updated: Jun 2

Blog post by Judith Gunn

Photos by Nigel Dickinson

 

Trinity, kitchens, hubs and pantries.

If, like me, you drove, walked or staggered past The Trinity Rooms on Field Road during the time of COVID you would have noticed changes to the hall and rooms, most notably the arrival of the Freezer of Love. If, like me, you went straight home, you may not know what is happening at the Trinity Rooms now and how much a simple COVID initiative has grown into kitchens, hubs and pantries.

Stroud Farmers market collection on a Saturday

“We started meeting out in the park,” says Fran Mosley of the early days both of COVID and the renewed Trinity Rooms. “We talked for ages and ages and ages about what we might do… I think the process of talking was important.” Soon words turned to action, and the team put in place some aims and objectives and began to rent the Trinity Rooms. Eventually, with the support of Rev. Simon Howell of St Lawrence Church and a good lawyer, a lease was agreed and Trinity Rooms Community Hub came into being.


That’s the premises, but what about the food?

'The Freezer of Love' was an initiative started by 'The Long Table' during COVID and when the founders of the new Trinity Rooms Community Hub were considering what to do in COVID they decided to start with the Freezer of Love, so The Long Table delivered Trinity distributed.


This expanded beyond freezer food into the Fridge of Love that offered more perishable foods, some from the Farmer’s Market surplus on Saturday, and since then they have expanded into shelves of dried and tinned food, in fact, into a pantry. “We try and offer a full range of food to people,” says Josie Cowgill. “We used to call ourselves a “food hub”, but because that was a bit similar to “food bank,” so we thought we’d call ourselves a pantry to differentiate from that. …Our pantry is a different model, in that anyone can come, we don’t ask questions, you don’t need a voucher, you don’t need a referral.” There’s a donation tin if you want to contribute food, supplies or money.

Trinity Rooms Food Pantry. Donations of fresh food from Stroud Farmers market gets distributed and handed out.

The Food Pantry is open (round the side, rather than in the main hall) on Mondays from 9 to 11 in the morning and on Saturday afternoons from 3 to 3.30, which is for the distribution of Farmer’s Market food. There’s also a cup of tea on a Monday and it’s on a Monday because, as Fran points out, “we are aware of what is going on in Stroud with regard to other food hubs, but on a Monday there’s not much.” The Monday morning pantry fills that gap, with access to food and a friendly cup of tea courtesy of volunteers, usually Jan and Catrin but new volunteers are always welcome.


Trinity Rooms Community Hub is now a registered charity, which allows them access to funding and other goods, such as hygiene products more cheaply. Most of the help is voluntary, but some part-time staff are paid: the lead cooks in the Friday, a cleaner and the Centre Manager, Josie. There is also Annie, the Food Coordinator, sometimes known as the gleaner, is employed by 'Network of Stroud Hubs' (NOSH). Annie is an expert at finding the leftovers at markets, farms and shops and not just distributing them but re-distributing goods to the most appropriate hubs, a process that is due to be replicated in other parts of the country, and that brings us to NOSH.


Networks and kitchens

Trinity Community Hub is not the only community hub providing a welcome, there are six hubs around the town of Stroud - the Top of Town, Middle of the Hill, Paganhill, Uplands, Marah and Trinity - all these hubs make up the umbrella organisation called NOSH (Network of Stroud Hubs). These hubs are independent of each other, serving the local population of each area differently according to local needs and interests. The hubs share information and goods when needed, so that supplies are distributed to those who want them.


And then there’s lunch on a Friday, pay as you can or not, or pay it forward, but head to the Trinity Rooms for lunch on a Friday. The Cafe is an essential part of Trinity and aims to provide a space for warmth, food, coffee and it’s busy… very busy.


Protecting the earth from the ground up

Trinity Rooms Community Hub has an ambitious vision and mission. Fran explains “The people who were involved with the ecocide campaign, wanted to get more grass-roots and more Stroud-based.” 

Trinity Rooms' Food Pantry table ready to be collected

Stop Ecocide is the campaign co-founded by the late Polly Higgins, whose definition of the crime of ecocide is being taken to the United Nations, in the hope that it will be adopted as an international crime. Sarah Frazer a fellow founder and Trustee of NOSH explains “Stop Ecocide is about changing international law”. The definition prohibits “wanton and extensive” damage to the environment. If ecocide were to become the law then governments and organisations would have to comply with practices that ensured the protection of the planet and its resources. The Stop Ecocide movement continues to campaign, but apart from signing up as an Earth Protector with the organisation there is not a lot that ordinary people can do in that campaign, it’s down to the lawyers. “So,” says Sarah “we started to think about what would an Earth Protector community look like if Ecocide was enshrined in international law.”


In other words - why wait?

Part of the mission of Trinity Rooms Community Hub is to “act in service to the rights and needs of our citizens, and uphold the rights of Nature.” They want to make Trinity Rooms a vessel for many Earth Protector activities, to offer something that is tangible and has demonstrable results.


Their approach to surplus is one of the first ways that Trinity Rooms Community Hub is moving towards being truly sustainable. “We started an association with a farmer in Cirencester, Andy Rumming and we developed a project which is called LUSH.” (Linking Up Suppliers and Hubs). The idea is that Andy and suppliers like him, sell independently and farm sustainably, rich organic grass-fed livestock. Andy invites his customers to pay it forward if they want to, and LUSH takes his surplus. LUSH repeats this model with another business, Zerodig at Oakbrook farm, who build into their business model sustainable use of their surplus, including donations. In addition, Trinity does have a little money to purchase food so they try to make sure that when they do, they do so from local businesses and of course, there is the surplus from the Farmer’s Market.


The aim is zero waste, maximum sustainability and good healthy supplies, all of which adhere to the principle aims of an Earth Protector and support the aims of stopping ecocide.


In the future Trinity plans to expand, to move from food to health, to therapy to be a hub for health, community and sustainability and that’s before we talk about Food Gleaning, Atelier and how to spread the word. Their hope is to work in collaboration with individuals and community groups to provide a stable community space that serves everyone. To provide a shared space where groups and organisations work in collaboration towards a more sustainable, equitable and fair community.


Relevant links


Writer


Judith Gunn is an author, and speaker. Her books include biographies, co-writes, one novel and film education (the film education is also published by Columbia University Press).


Judith started her career working for BBC Radio 1, She also worked for all the radio networks: researching and producing Radio 4 documentaries and dabbling in a little drama! She went on to work for the Radio Times and went on to publish and teach.


Judith has given lectures on TV, film and culture at schools, universities and festivals. Today she is full time writer working in the categories of education, biography and fiction.


Photographer


Nigel Dickinson, has worked as a documentary photographer and photojournalist for 40 years. He is exhibited and published worldwide. His work focuses on the environment, human condition, sustainable development, identity and culture.


He has published two monographs: ‘Hanging On By Your Fingernails’, about the Great Strike 1984/5, Spokesman Press in 1987 and ‘Sara. Le pelerinage des gitans’, Actes Sud in 2003


Features published in National Geographic, Figaro, Marie Claire, Mare, Vogue-Homme, Geo, Stern, Paris Match, D-Republicca, La Vanguardia, New York Times

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