Until 60 years ago thousands of east Londoners travelled to farms in Kent each summer for a working holiday picking hops. What would happen if Londoners today grew and harvested crops, produced drinks and ran their own company? This is what Company Drinks has been set up to do.
Company Drinks is an arts project and community drinks enterprise that links east London’s history of “going picking” with a full drinks production cycle: from picking to bottling, branding to trading and reinvesting. Our home is the Greater London Borough of Barking and Dagenham where we run a year-round borough wide and inter-generational public programme.
Our delicious drinks are made with fruit, flowers and herbs picked by local residents. The 2017 drinks range includes eight sodas, seven different cordials, birch sap, a gleaning cider and a green hop beer and tonic.
So far more than 36,000 people across London have engaged with our activities, with over 2400 Barking and Dagenham residents of all ages who came to picking trips and walks, more than 1000 young people have been involved in making and mixing drinks and more than 30 monthly Hopping Afternoons for former hop-pickers and 120+ weekly volunteers sessions at Park Centre have taken place. Company Drinks has been to Aarhus in Denmark, Warsaw in Poland, Leipzig in Germany, Colombes in France and trans-local collaborations in 2017 are happening with Bottle of Ginger in Glasgow and the Museum of London.
Company Drinks wants to become a solid example of how to combine local heritage (‘going picking’ and the area’s agricultural and industrial past) with local resources (spare fruit, growing spaces), local skills (recipe ideas, specialist and localised knowledge, drinks production) and a local economy.
Please contact us if you want to join any of our activities or help with our development plans.
Company: Movements, Deals and Drinks was set up by international arts collective Myvillages in May 2014 with the help of the Create Art Award. Company Drinks registered as a Community Interest Company in June 2015.