Community Food Award
About the Award
The Irish Food Writers’ Guild presented its second ever Community Food Award this year (formerly called the Social Responsibility Award). The award is given to an individual, business or other entity involved in food that, in the opinion of the Guild, is outstanding in the way that it embraces an ethos of social responsibility.
For example, the award might go to a community kitchen or garden,
to a food education project, or to a food business that donates a portion of its profits back to the community. It could go to an ethical food entrepreneur, a chef or a retail business. It could go to a large-scale national project or a small project based in one community. The important considerations are that the project is well managed and transparent and that it has a positive relationship with the community in which it operates.
Unlike the Guild’s annual IFWG Food Awards (for which nominations come solely from Guild members), individuals, businesses and organisations can nominate themselves or others for this award.
The 2016 Community Food Awards were presented at a ceremony in The Cliff Townhouse, on St. Stephen's Green, Dublin on Monday, 10th October. See below for winners and commended finalists details and click here for more information and photos from the event.
Overall winner: IRISH SEED SAVERS ASSOCIATION
The ethos of the Irish Seed Savers Association is simple but sound: working together to conserve Irish biodiversity. Founded in 1991 by Anita Hayes, work initially started on a small farm in Co. Carlow before moving to Scarriff in 1996. The aim of the Irish Seed Savers Association is to conserve and distribute wonderful rare and heritage varieties, as well as to encourage the skills of saving your own seed and empowering people to do this in their own gardens, small holdings or farms.
The Association’s Education Project was submitted for an IFWG Community Food Award; it aims to promote a greater awareness of agricultural biodiversity for children. The Education Project was created with the support of the Genetic Advisory Board of the Department of Agriculture and is a positive response to the new Social, Environmental and Scientific Education syllabus recently introduced to national schools. Children visiting the Association’s centre and participating in the Education Project are made aware of the importance of agricultural diversity, creating a more responsible upcoming generation who have the knowledge and skills to engage with and promote responsible practices.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: The organic centre
The Organic Centre was established in 1995 as a non profit-making company with charitable status. The centre is located on a 19-acre site in Rossinver, and operates from an award-winning, ecologically designed building with a grass roof. The aim of the centre is to provide training and education, information and demonstrations of organic gardening, growing and sustainable living. Developments at the Organic Centre include two demonstration gardens, nine polytunnels of protected cropping, a wetland sewage disposal system, compost display and an orchard with 50 varieties of apple. The Centre’s projects help anyone who wants to become involved to live better through sustainable gardening and good food.
The judges were particularly impressed with the pioneering work of the Organic Centre and the way in which it brings people together from both sides of the border to learn and garden together.
COMMENDED: Loaf catering
Loaf Catering is a corporate catering business and social enterprise delivering fresh food to homes and businesses in the greater Belfast area. Using local suppliers whenever possible, Loaf Catering is also an accredited training site, providing training and work experience placements for catering trainees with learning difficulties or autism. All profits go to the NOW Group to help support people with barriers to learning and employment join the workforce.
Loaf wants communities to be more connected with what they buy and eat and for every £1 invested in loaf, £8 is returned in social value. The judges were impressed with the strong, independent feedback they received about Loaf and felt it represented a model social enterprise that others could (and should) follow.
COMMENDED: OURganic gardens
OURganic Gardens is a network of community gardens in Donegal. Since its creation in 2013, this social enterprise, run by Joanne Butler, has enabled over 200 participants across ten community gardens to attend gardening classes in their local communities. It also hosts networking events that enable participants to share seeds, skills and stories.
OURganic Gardens has been instrumental in educating new and existing gardeners in how to embrace organic methods to cultivate their gardening practices. Joanne also runs several community gardens as well as a FETAC course in growing vegetables organically, empowering and connecting people across the county.
COMMENDED: cork food policy council
The Cork Food Policy Council (CFPC) was formed to work towards the achievement of a fairer, healthier, more secure and sustainable food system within the city and throughout the region. The Council operates as a partnership between representatives of the community, food retail, farming, fishing, restaurant/catering, education, environmental and health sectors and local authorities.
The CFPC was commended for its Edible Greening Project, which was initiated to teach people how to grow food in up-cycled containers and to highlight three things: that anyone can grow their own food, that food is as beautiful as flowers for greening the city and that growing food in urban environments has multiple health and environmental benefits. This initiative has many positive impacts, encouraging community engagement, creating conversations around sustainable food, recovering the central place of plants in our diet and highlighting that everyone has a responsibility to connect with their food supply.
Overall winner: Bia Food Initiative (BiaFi)
Bia Food Initiative (BiaFi) was set up in June 2012, with the Food Redistribution Centre opening in July 2014. BiaFi acts and raises awareness on the issue of surplus food as food waste and aims to alleviate food poverty in Ireland. It is a hugely ambitious nationwide initiative with a large distribution centre with refrigerated storage on an industrial estate in Little Island, Cork, and has already linked with most of the major multiples. They recently acquired and are opening distribution warehouses in Oranmore, Co. Galway, and in Tallaght.
BiaFi facilitates the transfer of surplus food from food-related businesses to charities. BiaFi provides a socially responsible, environmentally sensitive, business-friendly alternative to wasting good food.
The Guild were impressed by BiaFi on many levels but it was considered to be particularly worthy of the award because of the scale, scope and ambition of the venture, led by a team of people experienced in the world of Irish social action.
BiaFi, Unit 3, OC Commercial Park, Little Island, Co. Cork.
Hall of Fame winner: Dublin Simon community Soup run
Dublin Simon Community’s Soup Run was considered by the judging panel to have contributed at such an outstanding level since it was established in 1970 that it was immediately entered into the IFWG Social Responsibility Award Hall of Fame.
The Hall of Fame is an honour that recognises the longevity of an exceptional contribution to the community and will not necessarily be awarded on an annual basis.
Dublin Simon Community’s Soup Run consists of over 100 part-time volunteers who walk the streets in all weather offering soup, sandwiches, tea and a good chat to people who are homeless around the city.
In conjunction with the Rough Sleepers Team, the Soup Run volunteers conduct street searches for people sleeping rough, maintain contact with them and try to help them form links back into the community. The Soup Run goes out 365 nights of the year and is often the first point of contact for people who want to link into Simon’s range of services.
The Guild are delighted to honour all the volunteers involved and the management team at the Soup Run for the excellent and essential work that they do.
Dublin Simon Community, 1-2 Cope Street, Dublin 2.
COmmended: Flanagan's Field community garden
An urban eyesore in Rialto has been turned into Flanagan’s Field Community Garden, an exemplary community garden that houses Dublin’s first geodesic dome. The grow dome is an intensive year-round sustainable food producer, an exhibition space, a meeting and education area, and an iconic piece of art. The garden offers the space required to facilitate groups, encourage interaction and change social attitudes through horticulture.
The garden has fostered a sense of ownership in the community, which has brought with it a commitment to improve and engage. There is a communal growing area and individual cultivated plots, and the initiative has inspired local people to produce their own food.
A broad spectrum of groups converge in this green space, inspiring a local health food initiative, three primary schools, two homework clubs and a parent and toddler group to foster a love of gardening and embrace food production as part of the curriculum they deliver. The dome is capable of intensively producing food all year round and can create jobs, food and energy in a sustainable and self-sufficient manner.
This enterprise was considered to be a highly innovative approach to developing a food production initiative designed to support the local community and provide employment. The Guild was delighted to commend this exemplary community growing project in what is the International Year of Soil 2015.
Flanagan’s Field Community Garden, Reuben St, Dublin 8.
commended: Healthy food for all
Healthy Food for All (HFfA) is an all-island charity addressing food poverty by promoting access, availability and affordability of healthy food for low-income groups. With its focus on community and school food initiatives, it aims to alleviate food poverty by fostering positive changes in nutrition and the healthy eating behaviours of families and young people.
It also advocates for and supports the development of an improved school food framework and it promotes a greater understanding of food poverty across all aspects of public policy.
HFfA works to support low-income communities to develop food initiatives that can have a transformative effect on the lives, health and social participation of communities – for example, through projects that promote the learning of new skills around growing and eating healthy food.
The Guild welcome and congratulate the positive and important work being done by the charity to address the difficult challenges facing many people in accessing what should indeed be Healthy Food for All.
Healthy Food for All, 100 North King Street, Smithfield, Dublin 7.
Links of Interest
Michelle Darmody: Baking with almonds
Recipes this week are orange blossom and almond cake, almond macaroons and sunken prune tarts.
The Irish Food Writers’ Guild is grateful to the Herbert Park Hotel for their ongoing generosity in hosting our regular meetings in their excellent facilities.
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