FoodCycle Bristol + Bearpit Improvement Group team up on pop-up surplus food cafe and arts event…

Back at the end of February FoodCycle Bristol teamed up with the fantastic Bearpit Improvement Group to bring an action packed event to the heart of the city.

The area known lovingly as the Bearpit is a public space in the center of town that had for many years been left to a gradual process of urban decay, despite its location right on the crossroads between the commercial and cultural heartlands of Bristol, being one of the first landmarks new visitors to the city see as they arrive, and operating as an important daily thoroughfare for a diverse range of people.

In recent months the Bearpit Improvement Group has been doing some brilliant things to change all that and transform the space into a hub of community and creative activity; from vegetable growing workshops in the flower beds where the cider cans used to be, to outdoor art exhibitions, putting a permanent table tennis table in there, hosting farmer’s market stalls, screening films and running free live music concerts.

Now the mission is to install an 24/7 open access stage complete with permanent sound equipment that anyone can come down and plug into, a geo-dome sheltering roof and concave acoustic backing to amplify non-electric instruments. Designed to provide local musicians and artists with access to a free platform to express themselves and open the arts up to the general public. The stage will be partly funded with money raised through crowd-sourcing platform Spacehive, who FoodCycle Bristol alumni Maddie Yuille is now employed by! Have a look here to find out more about them and for more details on the stage.

In collaboration with FoodCycle Bristol, the Bearpit Improvement Group put on an event to gage interest and raise enthusiasm around this project. Setting up in two empty shop-fronts at the bottom of Park Street, one of the main shopping high-streets in Bristol city center, with musicians, poets, dancers, jugglers, beatboxers, performers and DJs all filling up the program that went right from 12pm-12am. There was something happening every minute of the day, a true testament to the richness of the creative community in Bristol and the talent ready to make use of the Bearpit stage.

FoodCycle decked out the space with tables, chairs and homemade lamps from recycled scrap-store materials and ran a soup and bread kitchen throughout the afternoon, helping to bring people off the busy sunny high-street into the space to engage in the activities that were going on.

We sold soup at £1 a bowl and raised over £80, with all the leftovers in the evening going down to the STAR (Student Action for Refugees) sleep-out that was going on down the road.

We also helped generate interest and collect over 300 submissions to the market research carried out on the day into what the general public wanted to see happen to the Bearpit space. The data collected shows a massively positive response to the plan of installing a stage , which means that any applications for further funding in the future will be backed up by plenty of public support.

Check out a few photos of the event bellow!


Teaching the kids a thing or two – FoodCycle goes into Bristol school class rooms to bring through the next generation!

February and March saw FoodCycle Bristol branch out into local Henleaze Junior School to give an assembly and a series of workshops on food waste and food poverty in the UK.

The whole school packed into the sports hall for our assembly which featured the FoodCycle food waste rescue story told by means of a theatrical interpretation!

The five minute sketch was complete with costumes and followed the journey of a humble banana from Big City, Supermarket Avenue, narrowly avoiding a tragic end in the rubbish bin, only to be saved by noble FoodCycle volunteer Knights on Bikes who took it to its rightful home in a baked banana cake.

Cheers and boos rang through the hall as we issued some of the big food waste and poverty facts and told about some of the other brilliant initiatives going on around the country dealing with the issues.

At the end of the assembly we asked the pupils what they thought they could do to help and were amazed at the sophistication and depth of the answers – from eating everything on your plate, to writing to supermarkets asking them to give FoodCycle more of their food!

The feedback from the assembly was great and we headed back a week later to host some class room sessions on food waste in the UK.

Again the kids were massively impressive with their enthusiasm and basic knowledge of issues to do with sustainability and re-use, an encouraging observation indeed!

We ran a multiple choice quiz where we asked the classes to give a guestimate to questions like how many elephants would weigh the same as the amount of food wasted in our country every year and how many people live in food poverty in Britain.

Then we put them in the hot seat, splitting the classes into groups and giving them a limited selection of ingredients to cook up a meal with, they had to come up with the best ideas that they could. There was absolutely zero lack of imagination and lots of great new and surely slightly wrong recipe ideas came out!

To satisfy the kids’ own suggestion from the assembly, to finish up we left them with a letter writing task to send to the big supermarket of their choice, asking them to give their surplus food to charities like FoodCycle!

All in all, this was a hugely positive experience for everyone involved and definitely something that FoodCycle Bristol will be doing more of in the future. A fantastic way to get kids thinking about waste and their own behaviours and choices from an early age, soon enough it will be second nature to all of us! Check out some banana costume pics from the assembly bellow too:

FoodCycle 2nd Birthday Carnival Chef Takeover – Photos…

So here’s to a belated blog post in tribute to what was a fantastic event to celebrate our 2nd birthday, now that essays and dissertations due for the end of term are in and the soldiers have left the field for the Easter holidays, we can take some time to reflect on a busy term and catch up on some of the great stuff that went on.

The Carnival Chef Takeover saw a feast of 120 guests served a three course meal at their tables by a team of uniformed waiting volunteers, prepared to the highest level by ethical food ambassador and acclaimed chef Arthur Potts-Dawson.

Its been a long while since Arthur first came onto our radar for his group of eco-championing restaurants and his inspirational People’s Supermarket venture (watch the Channel 4 series here), and having spoken alongside FoodCycle founder Kelvin Cheung at the Bristol Social Enterprise Conference in November, we were hugely excited and honoured when he agreed to come and lead our team of cooking volunteers for this event.

And boy did he deliver! Marshelling the kitchen like FoodCycle Bristol had never quite experienced before, Arthur rustled up three courses of gourmet fare under some serious time pressure for an outrageous number of diners, and the end product? Well, it wouldn’t have looked out of place in your favourite top draw eatery!

The menu went a little something like this.

To Start: Cream of Avocado Soup with a Paprika Garnish, served with Garlic and Anchovy Butter on Granary Baguettes.

Mains: A Carnival Style Roasted Butternut Squash with Mixed Vegetable and Date Rice (shaped by a tea cup mould that just oozed class)

And for Dessert:  A Zingy Fruit Salad with Chili and Ginger.

The meal was accompanied by a full program of entertainment with appropriately samba Braslian music over the loud speakers to fill in the gaps…

Following an introduction to the evening by FoodCycle Bristol managers Amy Hale and El Von-Benzon and Bristol Hub Coordinator Jonny Levin, the head chef came forward to give some personal background to his ideas about food, food waste and the work that FoodCycle does, as well as announcing the menu he had lined up for us.

A powerful and intriguing interval of poetic reflections from rising start Martin Powell followed the starters.

Then was the beginning of the battle of the ethical societies.
Each participating group had just 5 minutes to present the work they do and to convince the audience of its value and urgency, with only one condition: NO POWERPOINT!

Each guest was given a  raffle ticket on entrance to the hall worth £1. This raffle ticket bought them in with a chance to win one of 3 grand prizes, but also acted as their ballot paper with which they would vote for their favourite society at the end of the event.

The societies taking part would then be given the amount of money proportionate to the number of £1 votes that they received, so there was certainly motivation to impress!

In addition, anybody could purchase extra raffle tickets to cast more votes for societies and increase their chances of winning the prizes.

The grand prizes were:

1. Two Cinema tickets to see a film of your choice at the Watershed Cinema.
2. Lunch for 2 followed by a boat cruise down the river Avon.
3. An evening’s free use of the Arts House Cafe basement for a group of 20 friends to screen a film of your choice.

First up to present just before the main course was served was Lighthouse, a University of Bristol student society working to raise awareness and action around homelessness and marginalization in Bristol. Amid a no-show from the would-be star of Lighthouse’s presentation, the legend of the Bristol triangle, Rasta Jeff – the big issue hero, Gemma-Josaine stepped up and gave a brilliant insight into the work that they do.

Next after the mains were BVDA (Bristol Volunteers for Development Abroad) who gave a rip-roaring rendition of the Village People’s YMCA, substituting the original lyrics for verses about their student volunteer work in development overseas! The original VP lineup weren’t a patch on these guys.  

Then came the true latin flavour of the whole night with Bristol Capoeira rolling out an incredible display of traditional Capoeira dance, with the whole assembly gathering around at the front of the room to watch.

Then came desert and following that, to round of the evening we had Amnesty International who, having spent the evening with their arms tied down to their sides, focused the lens of their presentation on the Arms trade, top marks going to them for creative imagination and an instantly engaging dramatic interpretation on the theme!

The results from the societies’ battle were:

1st place, Amnesty – 43 votes
In 2nd, BVDA – 40 votes
And 3rd, Lighthouse – 23 votes

With all the money for the remaining votes that weren’t cast being shared out equally between the three groups!

All in all, what a brilliant event this was, with everyone going home satisfied with a full stomach and buzzing mind at the end of it. Top flight food, plenty of good vibrations and lots of great ideas.

Thank you to everyone that took part and who came a long. And we can’t wait to do something similar again soon!

For more photos from the event, make sure you’ve added ‘FoodCycle Bristol’ as a friend on Facebook then have a look through the album here:

“FoodCycle Bristol, The Movie”, and Media Coverage Galor!

It’s been a monumental fortnight for FoodCycle Bristol! From running a pop-up cafe in an empty shop front with live-music performances throughout the day, to catering lunch for 200 at the Bristol International Development Conference 2012, to giving an assembly and an afternoon of workshops to kids at Henleaze Junior School, to hosting our 2nd Birthday Carnival Chef Takeover with ethical food champion and chef Arthur Potts-Dawson, everything has been happening so quickly there hasn’t been time to keep up writing about it all!

Now the dust is settling we can get into telling you about all this great stuff, but so as not to bombard you all at once, we’ll space it out just a little bit and start off with some relaxed viewing/listening.

First up we have the online unveiling of a short film we recently completed about our dear project with the help of the Happy City initiative. Happy City gave two of our core team volunteers the chance to attend a fantastically well organised and useful course in two parts that would arm them with basic documentary film making and editing skills, and the camera equipment they needed to capture a beginners guide to FoodCycle Bristol. The aim of this part of the Happy City scheme is to give community, volunteer and charity groups the ability and means to communicate their work and messages through the medium of film to reach broader audiences.

This, as ever, is a work in progress with more elements sure to be added soon to cover the exciting work we are doing in new areas, but for now enjoy this 5 minute taster of what FoodCycle is all about:

Next up, a massive thank you has to go to Bristol University Press Office for pushing our 2nd Birthday event out to the media community in Bristol. We couldn’t have expected the response that we received and what a lever to raise our profile and make more people aware of the work we do and the reasons behind it!

Amy Hale, our hub coordinator was interviewed for Bristol’s favorite Ujima radio, a dream come true for many Bristol University students to make it onto those hallowed airwaves! But unfortunately the station doesn’t have a listen again function, so you’ll have to trust us that she was brilliant and represented like a true leader!

Matilda Long, one of our cooking managers was next to step up to the plate. She took BBC Radio Bristol’s Martin Evans back stage into the FoodCycle kitchen to reveal the joys of surplus food produce and the virtue of a bit of spice in your morning fruit salad. Have a listen while it’s still available, until Sunday March 18th, from just after the 50 minute mark! 

And finally, yesterday tea time, 6pm peak time viewing! ITV West ran a piece on food waste in the UK and put us right in the spotlight, linking our project with the new bill Bristol East MP Kerry McCarthy has proposed to regulate the final use of surplus food produce in the retail chain. A camera crew came and filmed the food prep with Arthur Potts-Dawson last Wednesday, interviewing the man himself as well as FoodCycle team members!

Devastatingly, ITV West has already taken the watch again video down from its site! So soon?! The piece can’t be lost to the ITV archives, it even featured extracts from the Happy City film we made ourselves! So we are getting in touch with their office to try and get a clip sent over to us and we will post it up as soon as we can!

More posts, photos and stories from all the great stuff we’ve been getting on with to follow very soon. Hold tight until then!

FoodCycle Bristol Team 2012-13, WE WANT YOU!

As we move into warmer and longer days, the academic year is undeniably starting to creep round to the final bend, which means its time to ensure we’ve got a great team of core volunteers to lead the FoodCycle mission next year.

As it happens, all of this year’s committee members are moving on come July, so we need new people in every position. Everyone who has gotten involved will tell you how much of a worthwhile and enjoyable experience it is to work in a team for this project!

We are having an informal meet up at Canteen on Stokes Croft on Tuesday 12th March to give you an opportunity to come down and have a casual chat with some of us and hear more about what being on the team would actually involve and which position would make you most useful.

Here are the role descriptions for positions next year.

Have a look to see what interests you, then add FoodCycle Bristol as a friend on Facebook to keep in touch with details for the social on the 12th and everything else we are doing…