Picking Trips

Remotely Visiting Projects We Love

December 8th 2020

Projects We Love: Community News
New openings, job opportunities and free online activities

Image: 1 Ubele Initiative link / 2 Phytology link / 3 Dalston Curve Garden link

Like so many other places this year, Wolves Lane Community Centre in Haringey has had to adapt and also pause a number of their usual in person activities. However, following the success of their Black History Month ‘Diaspora Kitchen Sessions’ with Sisterwoman Vegan and Bettylicious CooksUbele Initiative [one of the Wolves Lane Consortium] will be hosting a series of interactive cooking sessions. The next one is *TONIGHT* “Learn how to cook 5 exciting recipes originating from Ghana, Sudan, Jamaica, Mauritius & Syria… The chefs will engage in an intergenerational conversation in which they will explore their cultures and share their journeys as chefs, the stories behind their dishes, and their experiences as people of diaspora living in the UK.” The cooking sessions are free but you must register here.

Bethnal Bethnal Green Nature Reserve Trust [Phytology] are recruiting an Ecologist / Environmental Educator to be based at the reserve throughout 2021. They are excited to be able to shape the role with the successful post holder, further developing the ecological integrity of the site. They want to put someone in post who can bring new thinking, skills and enthusiasm to help protect & enhance the richness and resilience of this unique urban habitat. An exciting aspect of the role will be to mentor four young urban ecology interns. The focus of these internships will be in providing confidence, skills and knowledge in how to manage wild spaces from an ecological perspective. Find out more here.

We have been lucky enough to enjoy many group outings to the Dalston Eastern Curve Garden over the years, and we were very sad that restrictions meant we couldn’t make it there with a group this year. Following a successful crowdfunder campaign to raise money for remaining accessible during Covid-19, the garden and cafe are open again and welcoming groups outdoors. To make the most of the light in a beautiful garden, all at safe distance and outdoors, why not take a stroll around the Dalston Curve Garden, from Monday – Saturday between 2-5pm. Be sure to check their most up to date visitor information before making the journey on the website.


Projects We Love: Gifts with a Difference
Christmas gift ideas: Supporting east London-based artists, makers + communities

Images: 1 Preservation Culture link / 2 Naturally Untamed link / 3 Sarina Mantle, Wildsuga link

We recently learned about the brilliant Preservation Culture, “fighting household food waste one pickle at a time”. They celebrate, learn from and share knowledge around traditional preservation techniques from within their community in east London. The women involved teach people to pickle, dry, salt and ferment using easy to find ingredients, that are often thrown away as food waste. From December 10th you can buy spice kits made by the Preservation Culture Website. These brilliant little packs give you all the extra ingredients you may be missing in your kitchen cupboards, to make recipes shared by the group, and made, packed and sent from a community centre in Poplar!

We always have an eye on the wonderful things being produced at Naturally Untamed. You can find all natural lip balms, bath soaks, and bath bombs on the new online shop; all hand made by friend of the project, fellow [East Londonder], Medical Herbalist Zoe Power. We also suggest visiting the Naturally Untamed social media for lots of updates and tips for staying Wild + Well. We can’t wait to get Zoe back to Barking Park to collaborate on herbal remedies and growing together!

Company Drinks was recently lucky enough to meet local visual artist and founder of Wildsuga, Sarina Mantle. We’re excited to be working with Sarina on the New Town Culture Programme with LBBD and local young people [watch this space]…. but in the meantime we recommend checking out the Wildsuga shop, which features some beautiful products, including textiles, prints, cards and more… in particular check out Women + Patterns + Plants a brilliant self-care colouring book made up of stunning black-and-white line work featuring women, patterns and plants.


November 24th 2020

Projects We Love
Calling all East London artists and creatives!


Image: BeFirst link

If you’re a local artist, it’s the last week to apply for the Heritage Wall: Lost Heritage of Barking commission by BeFirst Regeneration. The plans to commemorate Barking’s forgotten history were hatched by local heritage volunteers who have been researching the area’s lost history. They have unearthed information about the development of the town since the earliest times, through the town’s emergence as a centre for fishing and farming and the building of the famous Abbey in AD666, up to modern times. The successful artist, or artists, will be expected to design, create, and install a heritage wall and linked interpretation, potentially including an art trail. The deadline is next Monday 30th November. The brief can be found here.


Image: Louise Hildreth, Friends of Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park


The Friends of Tower Hamlets Cemetery are looking for an East London artist working with a nature- and community-based practice. This residency allows for a full cycle of seasons spent amidst the woodlands and wildflowers as well as the extraordinary heritage of the cemetery and local area. FOTHCP would like to encourage community outreach and can support any funding applications that could aid a programme of this kind (e.g. current resident artist Louise Hildreth has received Arts Council funding). For more information or to apply, contact louise.hildreth@hotmail.co.uk. The submission deadline is Friday 11 December 2020.



October 2020

Black Lives Matter Barking & Dagenham are planning to work with local talent from Barking and Dagenham with the aim of educating and empowering individuals of all backgrounds. Like the online campaign ” Your voice matters”, on Friday 30th October from 6pm BLM are holding a showcase, demonstrating local talents of ethnic minorities. Barking and Dagenham is incredibly diverse, this event will allow people to focus on what makes them shine and bring unity of people together. To register, email: blmbarkdag@gmail.com

In a previous newsletter we shared the excellent Farmerama Podcast… But, in light of this week’s Digesting Politics talks, we wanted to share it again. They recently released ‘Who Feeds Us?‘: “a series exploring how the pandemic has made clear that food doesn’t come from shelves—and never did. Instead, food comes from the sea, the soil, & the hands of people. Join them, as they highlight these heroes of our food system & explore how farms feed us in many ways”… Listen here.

We recently learned about the brilliant Kitchen Cultures; an ongoing workshop practice and research residency as part of the Eden Project’s Invisible Worlds exhibition. It’s a collaboration between artist Kaajal Modi and chef Fatima Tarkleman, who are working with migrant communities to develop new recipes and fermentation/preservation processes to experiment with common domestic food waste. We STRONGLY recommend checking out their instagram page, trying out some of the recipes and following these brilliant conversations about migration and cultures (human, ecological and microbial) with local rural communities.



October 26 2020

Landworkers Alliance Campaign, Save Our Standards

Image: The Landworkers Alliance link

This Halloween, 31st October the Landworkers’ Alliance are calling members to support an action to save British food standards as the Agriculture Bill returns to the House of Commons next week. You can read about the campaign and an upcoming London-based Pumpkin Protest on their Facebook Page. We will be sharing our pumpkins with them on social media, in support of this incredibly important cause. You too can share your photos and support the Pumpkin Protest, at safe distance, using the hashtag #saveourstandardson social media.



August 2020

Laines Organic Farm 

A couple of weeks ago, Shaun and Alice spent a learning day at Laines Organic Farm, a certified Biodynamic farm near Haywards Heath.

We had the pleasure of gleaning a strip of what’s known as ‘volunteer potato’, which are potatoes which have grown from spuds that were left in the ground accidentally after a previous year’s harvest. We loved sinking our hands into the soil, which we later found out is very particular to the land that the farm is on.

We left with arms full of organically grown good food from the farm – apple juice, courgettes, peppers, freshly plucked red currants, jam and more. We also left with our brains full of a real life example of what’s possible when chemical and pesticide-free growing on a large scale. We will never forget that they have only occasionally irrigated in the last 40 years, a sign – among other things – of good soil that is nurtured and replenished as opposed to stripped and depleted. We are inspired to look at our own garden, what we are growing and where, and the ways we can support our soil life better.

We can’t wait to cross paths with them again at some point in the future! Check out their Instagram page for all the latest growings.

July 2020

In light of the ongoing amplification of the 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.

Leah Penniman + LWA link / Community Comfort link / May Project Gardens, Image: Spiralseed

The Landworkers’ Alliance (LWA) and Land In Our Names (LION) are hosting a webinar with Leah Penniman from Soul Fire Farm to explore how to build an antiracist farming movement in the UK. Author, mother, food justice activist and founding co-executive director of Soul Fire Farm Leah Penniman, will be speaking to Josina Calliste from LION, alongside other members of LWA. The webinar is being run as a fundraiser to support the work that LION are doing to address land justice in the UK. Tickets are £7.50 for non LWA members. If you are an LBBD resident and are interested in attending but not in a position to buy a ticket, please email us and we will try to register for you, if tickets are still available.

Community Comfort is a cookbook with a difference… 100 British cooks from migrant backgrounds come together in this e-cookbook to raise funds for the bereaved healthcare colleagues and families of Black, Asian & Ethnic minority victims of Covid-19. All the recipes and stories are centred around comfort food inspired by the diaspora. The collection is curated & created by Riaz Phillips @riazphillips and features so many brilliant cooks, including friends of Company Drinks, the excellent Betty Vandy and Ruby Tandoh.

May Project Gardens is an organisation based in Morden, reconnecting with nature for personal, social and economic transformation. They’ve launched a Crowdfunder to support the growing, learning and sharing they’re doing in South London. The team are showing us the power of starting small, connecting the dots and sowing BIGGER seeds together….. In the words of co-fouder Ian Solomon “Our goal is to equip and empower marginalised groups. We know that for many of you, that is an issue close to your heart as well. We would love to partner with you to make this happen. This month we are asking you to financially support the continuation of our work”. If you can’t donate, please follow this organisation and share!


June 2020

Image: Chris Watson, Sound Recordist & President of the Wildlife Sound Recording Society

For those who are continuing to self isolate as the lockdown is slowly lifted, it can be so difficult to feel connected to nature. If you’re missing the sounds of the big outdoors, we wanted to share with you two beautiful, calming audio recordings.

These two audio walks composed by Chris Watson are shared as a free resource for people self-isolating during the Coronavirus crisis. They offer imaginative access to a Highland and Lowland environment. They are released under the aegis of Alec Finlay’s year-long artist in residence with Paths for All.
The audio walks can be found online via Tidesong, Bandcamp


May 2020

The Company Drinks team have been invited to talk as part of the Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park online programme. We’ll be sharing the Company Drinks story and talking about why we think it’s so important to connecting with other east London green spaces [including THCP]. Registration for the talks is free, but you can make a donation to the Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park Friends’ Survival Appeal.

We recommend subscribing to THCP’s Nature & Us newsletter for regular nature updates, and also checking out other events on their online programme of talks.


May 2020
Maynards Fruit Farm, Farmerama Podcast, Growing Communities

Images: Maynards Fruit Farm link / Farmerama Podcast link / Growing Communities link

Those who have come picking with us before will be familiar with Maynards Fruit Farm. We love our Spring and Summer visits to spend a day in this beautiful part of the world; picking strawberries, blackcurrants, redcurrants (and whatever else is fresh that day!). Spring is well and truly here and the farm is gearing up for picking. We strongly recommend visiting their Instagram page for regular updates while we can’t currantly be there in person….

If you haven’t already, check out the Farmerama Podcast: an award-winning monthly podcast “sharing the voices of smaller-scale farmers in the UK and beyond”, which currently features a great ‘CerealBonus Episode on baking: “uncovering the hidden truths behind our bread and the people who are building a new grains movement”….

We also really enjoyed reading this blog from Growing CommunitiesFarming Through a Pandemic: Dagenham Connections. Big congratulations to Alice, Shelagh and the team for continuing growing through these difficult times. It’s been really inspiring to hear about the great work being done with Better Food Shed; bringing fresh produce to local families in need; we can’t wait to be able to come back to the farm to see how its been growing.


April 2020


The Mobile Apothecary is a collaboration between Phytology, Rasheeqa Ahmad [aka Hedge Herbs], and a growing network of talented volunteers; spanning the areas of arts, herbalism, and horticulture/growing. Since April 2019, they have been bringing people together to collectively learn about medicinal plants and create herbal medicine for distribution to fellow community members facing barriers to health, food, and shelter.
They run monthly pay-it-forward harvesting and medicine-making workshops at the Phytology Medicinal Garden, and distribution sessions outside of the Bethnal Green Underground Station, alongside Refugee Community Kitchen, and distributing in partnership with the Street Kitchen outside the Hackney Town Hall and Dalston Overground Station.

The Mobile Apothecary project facilitates:

  • Habitat & local urban environment connection.
  • Collective ethical & sustainable growing, stewarding, and harvesting of plants.
  • The making of medicines for some of the most vulnerable people within the community, with local resources and local hands.

They believe:

  • Healthcare, encompassing physical and psychological health, is a fundamental right that should be accessible to all people.
  • People have the right to basic knowledge and skills in herbal medicine and medicine-making.
  • Human health and planetary health are intertwined.

Over the last 2 weeks at our base in Barking Park [adhering to physical distancing and other risk mitigation measures], they have been creating packages of flu support remedies from their remaining herb stock for people to collect alongside Refugee Community Kitchen food packages. These contain a very special range of herbal products….


Immune Boost

This tonic is based on Elderberry and Apple Cider Vinegar, both of which have antimicrobial properties. Elderberry has traditionally been used to help reduce severity and length of cold or flu. Several studies have provided evidence supporting this effect, and in vitro studies have shown that it works by inhibiting viral entry into and replication in human cells (6, 7). Apple Cider Vinegar has been used for thousands of years for its multifaceted healing properties, and recent studies have shown its effectiveness against specific pathogenic bacteria and fungi (8).


Decongestant Chest Rub

This chest rub is based on the following antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and soothing herbs, some of which are also aromatic, helping to alleviate congestion both through both the skin and inhalation: Bay, Marshmallow Leaf, Ribwort Plantain, Menthol, Eucalyptus, Rosemary (9-15).



Hand Sanitiser

This sanitiser is a simple, effective, and gentle botanical formula featuring Calendula Tincture, accompanied by a subtle blend of Tea Tree and Lavender Essential Oils. We use a 90% Calendula flower (alcohol) tincture for the resin which has anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties and reinforces the antibacterial action of alcohol (16). Lavender and Tea Tree Essential Oils, both known to be effective against specific microbial pathogens, further boost the antimicrobial action, and Lavender also provides a calming fragrance (17, 18).


17 April 2020
with La Via Campesina


Last Friday, 17 April 2020, millions of food producers around the world – among them peasants, small and medium-scale farmers, indigenous people, migrant workers, farm labourers, pastoralists, fisherfolk – commemorated the International Day of Peasants’ Struggle.

La Via Campesina marked this day by releasing an illustrated version of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas (UNDROP).

If you’ve enjoyed our Digesting Politics Lunches and hearing from guest speakers such as Sean Roy Parker, Esiah Levy, Deirdre Woods, Fozia Ismail and Toni Lötter, we stronglyrecommend you check out this online publication. The beautiful  illustrations take you step by step through what is, now more than ever, an essential read about the people who are growing and feeding our world. You can either view it online or using the QR Code above.


Write On Magazine EXTRA Online Issues

We also highly recommend checking out Pen to Print’s Write On Magazine: Extra. With weekly literary treats on themes such as Monday Memoirs, Thursday Connectors and Write On! Interviews…. Find all the latest posts on their website.



Eco Brick making with Edible London

When they’re not delivering healthy surplus produce to residents in need in Haringey, Edible London are sharing great, simple activities you can do, to re-use and re-think about waste….  Visit their Instagram page and find their step-by step guide on How to Make an Eco-Brick. If you don’t use yours, bring it to the Company Drinks Garden in a few months, and we’ll send them to the Edible team, who will make use of them at their growing spaces.

Dandelion Fritters with Hackney Herbal

Hackney Herbal is an excellent organisation, growing and using herbs to improve people’s health and wellbeing. This week they’ve shared a simple recipe for Dandelion Fritters (we know, right?) via their Instagram. Foraging for flowers is great fun for all ages, and surely Dandelion Fritters are something you’ll want to try at least once?


Family Fitness with BDYD

Our friends at BDYD are making sure you’re keeping moving while staying put. This Saturday at 1pm, they’ll be sharing a Family Fitness Session with Redfox. It’ll be for all the family, all ages and abilities welcome! If you’re on instagram, tune in via the @B.D.Y.D instagram live story.


Get creative with Down, Up, Down, Up

DOWN, UP, DOWN, UP is a social social-distance art school which provides creative learning tasks for the duration of school closures during covid-19. We LOVE their Full Scale Self Portrait activity, and you can do this with scraps of paper and stationary you find round the house. Find this and more on their instagram posts.



Axel Scheffler’s guide to Social Distancing

Artist Axel Scheffler has drawn a great illustration showing the Gruffalo practising Social Distancing, which we love, and encourage you to share with your younger family members… see below.













(if you want to be a plant medicine geek)

1) Deters, A., Zippel, J., Hellenbrand, N., Pappai, D., Possemeyer, C., & Hensel, A. (2010). Aqueous extracts and polysaccharides from Marshmallow roots (Althea officinalis L.): Cellular internalisation and stimulation of cell physiology of human epithelial cells in vitro. Journal of ethnopharmacology, 127(1), 62-69.

2) Benbassat, N., Kostova, B., Nikolova, I., & Rachev, D. (2013). Development and evaluation of novel lozenges containing marshmallow root extract. Pakistan Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, 26, 1103-1107.  Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net

3) Zarei, B., Saifi, T., Fazeli, A., Khodadadi, E., & Namavar, A. (2013). Evaluation of Antibacterial effects of marshmallow (Althaea officinalis) on four strains of bacteria. International Journal of Agriculture and Crop Sciences, 5(14), 1571. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net

4) Kemmerich, B. (2007). Evaluation of efficacy and tolerability of a fixed combination of dry extracts of thyme herb and primrose root in adults suffering from acute bronchitis with productive cough. A prospective, double-blind, placebo-controlled multicentre clinical trial. Arzneimittel-Forschung, 57, 607-15.

5) Saeidnia, S., Gohari, A., Mokhber-Dezfuli, N., & Kiuchi, F. (2011). A review on phytochemistry and medicinal properties of the genus Achillea. Daru: Journal of Faculty of Pharmacy, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, 19(3), 173–186. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

6) Barak, V., Halperin, T., Kalickman, I. (2001) The effect of Sambucol, a black elderberry-based, natural product, on the production of human cytokines: I. Inflammatory cytokines. European Cytokine Network, 12(2), 290-6 . Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed

7) Zakay-Rones, Z., Thom, E., Wollan, T., Wadstein. (2004) Randomized study of the efficacy and safety of oral elderberry extract in the treatment of influenza A and B virus infections. Journal of International Medical Research, 32(2), 132-40. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net

8) Yagnik, D., Serafin, V., & J Shah, A. (2018). Antimicrobial activity of apple cider vinegar against Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus and Candida albicans; downregulating cytokine and microbial protein expression. Scientific reports, 8(1), 1732. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

9) Algabri, S. O., Doro B. M., Abadi, A. M., Shiba, M. A., Salem, A. H. (2018) Bay Leaves have Antimicrobial and Antioxidant Activities. J Pathogen Res 1(1), 3. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net

10) Batool, S., Rasheed, A. K., Muhammad, A. H., Muhammad, A. A. (2020). Bay Leaf. In M. A. Hanif, H. Nawaz, M.M. Khan, H.J. Byrne (Eds), Medicinal Plants of South Asia – Novel sources for drug discovery. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com

11) Ali Shah, S., Naveed, A., Akram, M., Shah, P., Saeed, T., Ahmad, K., Asif, M. (2011). Pharmacological activity of Althaea officinalis L. Journal of Medicinal Plant Research, 5, 5662-5666. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net

12) Muhammad, B. A., Muhammad, T., Muhammad, F. A., Mohamad, S.A., Muhammad, B.A.K, Mohd, S., Pinaki, S., Deny, S. (2017). Chemical constituents and medical benefits of Plantago major. Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy, 96348-360.

13) Kamatou, G. P. P., Alvaro, I. V., Viljoen, M., Lawrence, M. B. (2013). Menthol: A simple monoterpene with remarkable biological properties. Phytochemistry 96, 15-25. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com

14) Bachir, R. (2017). Antimicrobial activity of Eucalyptus globulus oils. In A. Méndez-Vilas (Ed), Antimicrobial research: Novel bioknowledge and educational programs. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net

15) Nieto, G., Ros, G., & Castillo, J. (2018). Antioxidant and Antimicrobial Properties of Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis, L.): A Review. Medicines (Basel, Switzerland), 5(3), 98. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

16) Efstratiou, E., Hussain, A.I., Nigam, P. S., Moore, J.E., Ayub, M. A., Rao, J. R. (2012). Antimicrobial activity of Calendula officinalis petal extracts against fungi, as well as Gram-negative and Gram-positive clinical pathogens. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice 18(3), 173-176. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com

17) Puškárová, A., Bučková, M., Kraková, L. et al. (2017). The antibacterial and antifungal activity of six essential oils and their cyto/genotoxicity to human HEL 12469 cells. Scientific Reports 7, 8211. Retrieved from https://www.nature.com

18) Carson, C. F., Hammer, K. A., & Riley, T. V. (2006). Melaleuca alternifolia (Tea Tree) oil: a review of antimicrobial and other medicinal properties. Clinical microbiology reviews, 19(1), 50–62. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov.

19) Rao, G., & Rowland, K. (2011). Zinc for the common cold–not if, but when. The Journal of family practice, 60(11), 669–671. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov