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The five people starting up Incredible Edible Middlesbrough standing in front of an audience about to talk about their interests The five people starting up Incredible Edible Middlesbrough standing in front of an audience about to talk about their interests

Incredible Edible Middlesbrough launches with a focus on local food

By Sarah Ward

Incredible Edible groups spin the three plates whichever way makes most sense in their community.  For Incredible Edible Middlesbrough, the focus is on building a resilient local food system for the town and the surrounding areas.

On 18th January, Incredible Edible Middlesbrough hosted its inaugural event, a community food gathering at the town’s Meath Street Resource Centre.  The day brought together 50 people who were all interested in Incredible Edible’s ‘if you eat, you’re in’ mantra.  Ranging from people involved in community allotments and growing space, through to staff from the local university and a range of local food producers, the audience had lots of ideas and enthusiasm to ensure local food is as valued as possible.

There’s a great movement of independent growers, activists, producers, retailers and consumers in Middlesbrough and by working together under the Incredible Edible banner individuals and groups will develop stronger networks and links between all the activities which are going on in the area.  The organising group for Incredible Edible Middlesbrough is made up of people who all work in and with food in Middlesbrough – Liz, a chef, Josh, a coffee shop owner, two food activists Laurissa and Catherine and Julian, a local cider maker, together with the Incredible Edible Network Regional Facilitator, Joe Dunne who also leads the Middlesbrough Food Partnership in his role at Middlesbrough Environment City.  The group are all Incredibly enthusiastic about making the most of the opportunity of working together and saw this first event as a way to connect communities and existing informal networks and to kick start some Incredible activities.

The event, hosted by Gary Stott of the Incredible Edible movement, started with an inspirational talk from Pam Warhurst plus a video showing the story of the Kindling Trust based in Manchester.  Next, we heard from Dave Laing from the Clucking Pig who told the story of his food business which takes eggs from ex-battery hens with local meat, including pheasants shot on game estates that would otherwise be wasted, to make scotch eggs which the Royal Family have enjoyed.  The passion from Dave about minimising food waste and about the importance of well-made local food was inspiring. Plus everyone got to enjoy a hearty, delicious lunch made of local food which had been reclaimed from going to waste.

The afternoon was where the ideas started developing even further, with workshops focussing on developing a community kitchen, ideas for a food co-op, gathering and sharing the skills, assets and resources available, as well as discussing surplus food gleaning.  None of these ideas sit in isolation and by coming under the Incredible Edible Middlesbrough umbrella, the shared benefits of developing these ideas will be realised as resources, contacts, inspiration and energies are shared.  Together, plans were hatched for next steps and new connections were made between people involved with the local food system in Middlesbrough.

We can’t wait to hear what happens over the coming months.  If you’d like to get involved with Incredible Edible Middlesbrough, then contact Joe Dunne ([email protected]).  Or if you’d like to kick off a similar network of food activists in your town, then contact us and we can offer you support.