Drinks Making

Picking + Making + Circulating during Lockdown

26 March – 31 December 2020

Picking and making drinks didn't stop during lockdown, we simply found new and socially distanced ways of doing this. We kept sharing knowledge about growing, picking and processing.
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Scroll down for some great stories how ingredients were picked locally, made locally and distributed locally - circulating goodness throughout lockdown.

27 July
SOCIALLY DISTANCED FARM TRIP
Picking berries with families at Maynards Farm in East Sussex
and redistributing the drinks locally


Even social distancing and heavy rain couldn’t keep our pickers out of the fields! We were all very happy to be outside together ++ with some very competitive picking!

In late July we headed back to the excellent Maynards Fruit Farm in Ticehurst it was a great feeling to be back out picking with our community, and we were all careful to keep socially distanced. It was a the first time out of London for most of the families, so it felt like even more of a special treat. We all had a sense of freedom again, and were able to see friends again.

Usually we would travel to the farm by coach, but due to social distancing and safety concerns, we instead arranged separate transport for each family bubble to the farm in Ticehurst, thanks to support from a Delivering Differently grant from the London Community Response Fund.

Everyone arrived at similar times as the clouds started to loom over us, but we were determined not to get out to the fields. We headed up towards the red and blackcurrants, [which is a bit of a walk across the farm]. On the way, the group was distracted by the strawberry patch and plum tree, which we all agreed to re-visit on our walk back to our transport, to save ourselves some heavy carrying!


Fotos: Some of the happy currant pickers and the [juicy] fruits of their labour

The bushes were laden with red and blackcurrants. It turns out we had chosen the perfect time to come and collect them. As we were at the back area of the farm, we were steeped in peace and tranquillity, with only the sounds of the wildlife and our chatter to be heard.

Everyone broke into groups equipped with a collection pot to fill and went off into the lanes of currants. These smaller pots were then emptied into bigger buckets – of which we were able to fill 5!! Everyone enjoyed the hands-on picking experience, with some taking their time to fill their pots, and others having competitions of ‘who can fill the pot the fastest‘.

The larger buckets got filled up very quickly and I had wondered if I had brought enough, but just as the last currants were loaded, the rains came down and it was time to head back to the farm shop.

On the way back, everyone had some time to stop and pick some fruit to take home, with conversations and chats about the treats and recipes they were going to create once at home. We all made it safely back to the farm shop, [albeit a little wet] but very happy, and in time for the our individual transport to get home safely, armed with bottles of our Green Hop Tonic to take home.

Together we picked 26kg of red and blackcurrants, which will be processed and made into cordial within the next few weeks. We will be sharing videos and updates on the cordial production process so watch this space….

Thanks to everyone who came and picked with us, we will be sending a finished bottle of cordial to each of the helpers to say thank you, and for them to taste the fruits of their labour. The proceeds of any cordials sold locally [and beyond] will go straight back into paying for activities like our Picking Trips.

And finally….Our 1 week-drinks-production-turnaround was put to shame by local artist Griffi [photos via Instagram] who took home an assortment of delicious seasonal berries, and that evening whipped up delicious Berry and Coconut Squares [recipe credit goes to Ula]. Looks like we need to up our game!
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July 2020
RE-CIRCULATING PLANTS

Connecting local growing spaces and households


Doorstep flowers, balcony tomatoes, and an abundance of raspberries.

One of the ways we are circulating locally grown goods, while keeping our distance, is through a collaboration with Blooms on the Green, who have kindly donated tomato plants, bedding plants and flowers that couldn’t be sold at markets due to the Covid-19 restrictions.

To help get these to where they would be fully enjoyed and looked after, Alice collected the freshly cut, locally grown stems from Blooms on the Green at the Dagenham Starter Farm. We then delivered them to the doorsteps of our much missed, regular volunteers who would usually be looking after the Grow Club Garden.

One volunteer (Beryl Bickell) had an abundance of raspberries in her garden, and so left some containers of raspberries on her doorstep, which we were then able to pass on to the next flower-drop stops!

The tomato plants are currently at our garden, and will be delivered to volunteers this week, along with compost and a good sized pot for growing on. For some this will be the first step into growing food at home, and for others it will be an addition to a thriving window sill or balcony. We look forward to hearing how they all get on.

For more information on Blooms on the Green and to find out how you can get your hands on some seasonal, spray-free, fairly traded, fragrant and fabulous flowers, visit the website or contact them via email.

Blooms on the Green is run by Shelagh Martin [formerly run by and now supported by generous start-up support from Growing Communities. Many thanks to Shelagh for inviting us to share the flowers and tomato plants with our groups.

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June 2020
RE-CIRCULATING KNOWLEDGE

A very special final Tea Club collaboration


Image: The final Tea Club blend is made up of predominantly cacao husks and chocolate mint. We also loved the pop of colour from the orange calendula and purple mallow…. Landing on Tea Club members’ doormats soon.

Since lockdown happened and we closed our public events and workshops overnight, we have been working to find new ways of delivering our programme remotely and at a safe distance. Thanks to support from B&DRenew, one such way was to run a Tea Club over 8 weeks, which saw nearly 100 tea tasting packs being sent out to our members, with information about the herbal blends and a guided wellness activity each week.

For our final Tea Club pack, we are excited to have collaborated with Oyin Okusanya, the founder of Cocoa Social Enterprise CIC. Oyin delivered an educational workshop on chocolate making as part of our Family Wild+Well programme last year, and is a member of our Local Food Steering Group. We were thrilled to have had the chance to make a tea blend together, using herbs grown in the Company Drinks garden and cacao husks and nibs from Oyin’s chocolate production.

If you’d like to hear more about Oyin’s work then have a look at the Cocoa Social Enterprise CIC website and blog. Here you’ll also find an online shop, with delicious, locally made, hand crafted chocolate goods.

Thanks to B & D Renew for their support in funding this exciting project.

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18 May
Elderflower Lockdown Harvest Update


Fotos: Your local garden/park > your doorstep > our kitchen > back to your doorstep > out to the community>
Pic 4 credit : Emdad Rahman

Thanks to everyone who took part in the first ever Lockdown Harvest. We picked together on the 9th and 16th May, collected from your doorsteps and took the elderflowers straight back to Barking Park to be processed, bottled and delivered back to you the following week.

Getting to see the smiley faces of pickers from a safe social distance was still great for both them and me, the excitement to reconnect in some way with our local company drinks friends.

The elderflowers were left in plastic bags by each picker, the bags were strategically placed in different shaded areas of the gardens to stop them from wilting, making it somewhat a treasure hunt of white gold. Some of the collections also had some treats attached [pic above], one with a beautiful rose and a slice of fresh banana bread to keep Shaun’s energy up for the rest of the pickups.

We would usually be serving our B&D Made drinks at local events, so we felt it was important to somehow continue sharing this communal harvest with some local Covid-19 heroes…. On Saturday 22nd May we delivered 69 bottles of Elderflower Cordial to the Hedgecock Community Centre [up the road from us in Barking Park] as a gift for their Eid Food Bank deliveries to local families.

Thanks to Emdad Rahman and Hedgecock Community Centre for all the great work they’re doing in the borough through Covid-19. Please read Emdad’s brilliant blog post and check out all the other work he’s been doing to support the community.

 

21 April
Japanese Knotweed Foraging

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The dreaded Japanese Knotweed… Many people have come to fear its name; but for others, it’s a fascinating, often misunderstood, delight. There are many things Japanese knotweed can be used for, (for example in desserts), but we use it as an ingredient in our drinks ranges. We have collected this NOTweed on picking walks, and created drinks which have a sour, rhubarb-like flavour and light pink colour.

Japanese knotweed is, however, an extremely invasive plant. It grows and spreads incredibly fast (think bamboo); breaking through concrete, damaging buildings and taking over green spaces if not monitored and treated. Under the wildlife and countryside act 1981, any person planting or causing Japanese knotweed to grow, “shall be guilty of a [criminal] offence”. Often areas of Japanese knotweed in the wild are treated with strong chemicals to prevent and restrict growth, so picking is NOT encouraged unless done with a specialist foraging facilitator and without permission from local Park Ranger Services. Read more here.

Every year, before harvesting Japanese knotweed, we speak to the LBBD Park Rangers and check which sites have been recently treated, and we make sure that our team are trained in how to cut the plant without spreading the leaves or shoots.

Keep an eye out for this loved and loathed plant. Once you’ve noticed it, you’ll find that you just can’t help but try and spot more…

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  • Check our short Plant Identification video from Shaun, who has been working with the LBBD Park Rangers to track the growth of JK at Eastbrookend Country Park.
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  • If you want to share with us any Plant Pest Stories or pictures with us, send them to contact@companydrinks.info or tag us @goingpicking
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  • Plant ID responsibly it’s a criminal offence to spread the growth of Japanese Knotweed, so we strongly advise you wait until next year when we can go harvest it together again, with help and permission from the LBBD Park Rangers.
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  • See our Picking and Making blog for all the latest stories and links

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28 April
Dandelion Honey Making

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Ever felt like becoming a bee? Well, you can at least make your own honey, and all you need is:

  • 300 dandelion heads
  • 750g sugar
  • I litre of water
  • 1 orange and 1 lemon
  • [adjust to suit your foraged batch]

This recipe is a great honey substitute for vegans or anyone with a honey allergy, using those “pesky” [or as we say “delicious”] weeds, dandelions. You can play around with the flavours, but we’ve found that a nice citrus twist makes this sweet treat that bit tastier. Check your lawns for this amazing plant, and always make sure no weed killer has been used recently.

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10 April
Molecular Fizz Lab at Home

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Calling all parents and carers! If the younger members of your household are moaning about the “same old drinks” at home, why not encourage them to mix up their own flavours. We’ve uploaded a video, showing you how to mix up your own flavours and test your family’s taste buds. We recommending adding fresh fruit, freshly picked flowers or herbs and seeing if you can come up with a 100% new and original Barking & Dagenham DIY Drinks Flavour …. All you need is:

Water still or sparkling
A cup
Sugar 
2 spoons max, or sweetener, honey, sugar alternative
Fresh lemons or lemon juice
Your choice of fresh fruit, flowers or herbs
Food colourings or flavourings
if you have them for baking… if not see if you can extract flavours by pressing/juicing fruits
Ice and a slice for serving!
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  • Check our short Molecular Fizz Drinks Lab video from Oribi, who’s also socially isolating, but managed to mix up a Soda creation!
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  • If you want to share your DIY drinks creations with us, tag us on social media  @goingpicking #DIYfizz
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  • Sweeten responsibly, a little bit of sugar is fine and will help young people understand how their favourite flavours are mixed…. we recommend not more than 2-3 teaspoons per creation, keeping you well below what goes into mainstream soda recipes. Try squeezing fresh fruit instead for some natural sweetness.
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  • See our Picking and Making blog for all the latest stories and links

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1 April
Flowering Currant Cordial Making

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Shaun has been making our first small batch of Flowering Currant cordial. We’ve uploaded a short video tutorial on how you can make your own delicious, locally sourced cordial from foraged petals, for you and your family.

All you’ll need is:
1 litre of water
200g sugar
100g flowering currant (or other foraged blossoms – let us know what you try)
1 tablespoon of lemon juice

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  • Check our short video from Shaun on how to make Flowering Currant cordial
  • If you want to share your DIY drinks creations with us, tag us on social media  @goingpicking
  • Please forage responsibly, never pick more than a third of the flowers from any one plant, leave plenty for the bees. Contact Shaun if you have any questions

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25 March
Flowering Currant Foraging

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Shaun went foraging for flowering currant flowers on 26th March in Mayesbrook Park, Dagenham, taking less than a third of the flowers off of any of the bushes, leaving the rest as vital food for the bees.

Ribes sanguineum, or flowering currant is a deciduous shrub that blooms a deep to pale pink colour flower in the spring. The leaves are usually three lobed with created edges and both the leaves and the flowers have a sweet currant smell when crushed. The flowers can be used to flavour drinks and desserts, look out for our flowering currant cordial in the coming months.

  • Check our short video from Shaun on flowering currants in Mayesbrook Park.
  • If you happen to find any flowering currants, we’d love to see your photos. Tag us on social media @goingpicking, or send  ideas to shaun@companydrinks.info
  • Please forage responsibly, never pick more than a third of the flowers from any one plant, leave plenty for the bees. Contact Shaun if you have any questions.

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OTHER RE-CIRCULATING PROJECTS AND RESOURCES WE LOVE
In light of the ongoing Black Lives Matter movement, we’re continuing to share resources from projects we love doing their bit to tackle social and/or racial injustices in our food systems.


Fotos: 1. The Landworkers’ Alliance 2. Made Up Kitchen + Concorde Youth 3. FoodShare Toronto ft. friend of the project Dee Woods 4. Season for Change

 

This week, The Landworkers Alliance announced that they’re launching a BBIPOC Working Group within the LWA: This self-directed BBIPoC (Black, Brown, Indigenous, People of Colour) group will set the agenda and drive the direction of this work, and identifying ways that BBIPoC landworkers’ / allies can organise to support the voices, work and experience of BBIPoC people working in the forestry, food and farming sectors. Next Wednesday 8th July, they are also hosting a Webinar on Race and Farming in the UK. If you’re a grower, farmer or food organiser and wish to register, click here.

For 11 weeks, Made Up Kitchen have been providing their neighbourhood in Hackney with 1100 meals a week and bags of fresh fruit and veg. Along with partners Concorde Youth, they’ve seen young people helping, delivering to their neighbours + documenting their journey…. They have launched a crowdfunder to keep the good work growing….. Healthy food *should* be a fundamental right; but through Covid-19, we’ve seen that there’s some way to go before we can assume that’s the case for everyone.

If enjoyed meeting Dee Woods [food + farming actionist, co-founder of Granville Community Kitchen, London Food Board, LWA Director, to name a few] at our Digesting Politics Lunch, Molecular Fizz Academy or RSA Design Awards Workshop… DO NOT MISS her speaking at FoodShare Toronto’s ‘Black Women on Black Food Sovereignty’ event. Dee will be speaking alongside Karen Washington, Leticia Deawuo and Cheyenne Sundance. The talk will be streaming live at 7-8.30pm [2pm EST] TONIGHT via FoodShare Toronto’s Facebook Live.

Season for Change, led by Julie’s Bicycle and Artsadmin, hasve launched an open call for four £10,000 commissions for UK based artists, makers or creators underrepresented in climate conversations. The fund is open to commissions for artists, makers or creators, and a professional development programme focused on cultural climate leadership. Read more about the fund here, or apply via the Artsadmin website.

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