Made in Hackney are an eco-community kitchen dedicated to teaching sustainable food skills that are good for people and planet in a fun and inspiring way.

Made in Hackney are an eco-community kitchen dedicated to teaching sustainable food skills that are good for people and the planet in a fun and inspiring way.

Without a healthy planet, we can’t hope to be healthy people. Made in Hackney are an eco-community kitchen in East London who recognise the fundamental connection between healthy people and a healthy planet, taking an approach that considers every stage of the food cycle: from seed to plate. They teach local people important skills that allow them to make informed decisions to change their cooking and eating habits to have a positive impact on their own health and that of the environment. Made in Hackney teach everything you need to know to lead a sustainable and healthy life: from food growing, composting, cooking and preserving to home herbalism and making your own non-toxic cosmetics. The project has been been funded by a Big Lottery grant over the past year but this comes to an end in March. They have just launched a fundraising drive to help them carry on their amazing work. Sarah Bentley explained to Huck why the project is so important.

Could you explain the connection you make between healthy people and a healthy planet?
We all drink water, breath air and eat food. If our environment is polluted then we won’t have clean water or clean air and our food will be laced with harmful chemicals. Caring about the environment shouldn’t be a lifestyle choice; it should be a no-brainer for everyone who eats and breathes. Many people don’t understand what organic food is all about and why it’s so important. They think it’s over-priced dirty veg for posh people, but it is actually produce that is free of harmful and harsh chemicals; pesticides, herbicides and unnatural fertilisers. These chemicals also get into the land, into our water systems and kill off wildlife. Perhaps the most dangerous consequence is the killing of bees, which we depend on for our food. Ironically, we spray chemical in an attempt to enhance and protect crops, but in the process we’re killing off pollinator insects which are absolutely crucial to our food supply and civilisation would collapse without them.

But this is about more than just food, right?
There are also the social justice implications: people all over the world are starving and suffering from natural disasters, flooding, desertification, depleted and eroded soils. Our behaviour here in the UK directly contributes to other people’s misfortune abroad who suffer the effects of climate change. It’s about time we started recognising this. Many people are happy to donate money to the victims of a natural disaster, but fewer are prepared to look at their lifestyles and make the changes that will reduce climate change.

What inspired made in Made in Hackney?
The work of Vandana Shiva in India. The teachings of Ananda Marga founder Shrii Shrii Anandamurti. The urban food growing movement around the world. The activists who chain themselves to machines, fences, buildings to highlight gross injustices. The many documentaries about food, health, the planet: Food Inc., Symphony Of The Soil, Flow, Dirt!, Vegucated! So many inspirations! My personal goal is to inspire people and give them the skills necessary to eat less meat; something which is so damaging for people’s health when consumed in excess.

Who do you work with?
We work with a huge variety of community groups. We’ve had local food growers in to learn preserving, parents and toddlers from local children’s centres learning to cook easy meals, and young people who are excluded from school learning to cook so they are ready to live on their own. Everyone could benefit from our courses as most people are not currently eating a diet that is really good for people and the planet. By that we mean a diet that is predominantly local, seasonal, plant based and ideally organic.

What sort of impact has the project had?
The courses make a huge impact on people’s lives. People tell us that they learned to love eating fruit and vegetables with us and now eat much less meat. Some people have changed 60 plus years of bad eating habits and bought juicers, started shopping locally, doing home composting. All of these changes have made people feel fitter, healthier and more able to make decisions that benefit the health of themselves, their families and the environment.

What’s the future for Made in Hackney?
We would love to start working with the NHS and GPs to get the benefits of a whole foods and plant based diet acknowledged by the mainstream medical profession. A diet like this can not only treat a myriad of illnesses but more importantly would prevent a huge number of health problems. We want to run more courses and work with more students. We hope to develop many more of our own revenue generating streams, through Masterclasses and Pop Ups, for example, so that we can become self-sustaining and don’t have to rely on funding.

What do you hope to achieve with this fundraising?
We’re hoping to raise £12,500 with our crowd-funding drive to help us deliver more vital healthy eating, cookery courses to wide range of local community groups including teen carers, young people in care and people with long term health problems. For the past year we have relied on Big Lottery funding but that ends in March so we need more funds to keep the program going and continue helping people.

How can people get involved and show their support?
You can make a donation to our Crowdfunding campaign and share it with your friends and family. Or you can attend one of our many masterclasses which we run at the weekends. All the money we raise from these courses goes back into our delivery of free courses to local community groups. For example, coming up we have Gourmet Chocolate Making, Healthy Baking, Raw Food Detox and Homemade Cosmetics. If these classes are out of your price range you can attend a pay-by-donation community class led by one of our amazing volunteers. Or you could even become a volunteer yourself. Our Apprentices help us with the day to day running of Made In Hackney and Class Hosts assist our cookery teachers with the class delivery. You can find out more about volunteering on our website.

If you want to support Made in Hackney’s amazing work improving the health of the planet and the local community you can contribute to their crowdfunding drive here.