Updated: May 4
This first week of writing the blog feels a bit overwhelming. There is so much to cover: Custom's Locavore garden project has just moved to a new location and all the plants are waiting to be re-homed in new beds but all our volunteers are (quite rightly) self-isolating so Gini is having to come up with a plan B; Folkeshare (the Time Banking initiative we got started last Autumn) is poised to be such a helpful community tool but is still so new that we need to give it a great shove to get it moving; our new studio in Wiltshire is getting set up and has potential to be an amazing base for us going forward; all our amazing suppliers and collaborators are having to completely re-invent their businesses, spinning on a sixpence to meet new demands and/or just survive and I want to support/promote them so much.
But what is becoming most clear is that our geographic spheres of activity are shrinking, some people are not even leaving their house, others are limited to the journey from home to work. So communities are beginning to look at what resources are available locally and coming to terms with having to manage on what is available rather than expecting to have the world on their plate as standard. I'm trying to figure out how we can take this opportunity to embed that mindset, to make it the default so people have a better understanding of the huge privilege (and occasional problems) of sourcing food outside of seasonal and geographic availability.
So in the context of GROUNDING, now is an amazing time to find out what is happening right on our doorstep and bed in with our community. As spring takes hold, it's time for a fresh start, to build new networks and communities - even if contact is at a distance. Where we are, the Chalke Valley Stores (which my parents had a hand in setting up) are already set up for no-contact deliveries and are well stocked (including local meat and cheese, fish from Mere Trout, fresh bread, pickles, preserves, dry goods from Wilton Wholefoods and even cleaning products and wine). Back in Folkestone, Folkestone Wholefoods has fresh spray-free veg from our long-time supplier Walmestone Growers, as well as a huge range of organic products - canned beans and soups, nuts and dried fruits, chocolates, teas and coffees. Kent Food Hubs Folkestone (and Ashford) have been doing deliveries for a few weeks now and you can get a great range of locally sourced food, include my favourite Lively Foods fermented goodies. The amazing Docker Bakery have not just set up a whole new web-based delivery system for both bread and beer, you can even buy a loaf to donate to the local food bank whilst you're at it. Heroes.
Our restaurant closed in December, so as you can imagine - although these times are not exactly easy - we are breathing a bit of a sigh of relief. But grounding has a lot to do with empathy, we are all made of the same stuff. I'm feeling desperate for all our friends in the food industry at this time, so when I see the huge efforts they are making to survive and at the same time serve their communities, I feel a bit emotional. Please support all your local restaurants and pubs who are doing take-away/delivery services, especially if they are still trying to make food that supports the planet and the local community. Some amazing examples local to us here and in Folkestone include: Dr Legumes whose takeaway menu is already up and running and I feel healthier just looking at it (and not in a boring way!); Pythouse Kitchen Garden whose food for the freezer menu looks ridiculously delicious; and Folkestone Wine Company is selling their delicious wine in cases at amazing price to take away.
The upside of this dreadful time seems to be that we will all be able to eat better, more locavoriously, healthily and sustainably, than ever.