Over the super moon equinox weekend we teamed up with Drawing Club – run by Sebastian Lowsley Williams – to host a day of drawing the trailer and its contents for the making of the Energy Cafe user manual.
Regents Studios runs parallel to Broadway Market – one of the busiest saturday markets in the east end. Situated slightly off the main drag we were able to unfold all the cafe resources and naturally occupy the car park for the afternoon.
The sun beat down into the early eve.
as Dandelion posed with swirl stove and solar cooker…
Meanwhile on the menu; spring soup for all the crew, potato cake…
and a special egguinox honey and banana cake. it was the first cake to be baked in the windy smithy oven. Baked for half an hour at 250degrees.
Rachael Matthews made a beautiful drawing of the solar powered unit on wheels (prototype 1) , designed by Lucy Sheldon. Read more on the Prick Your Finger blog.
It was a great day! Thanks for all who participated and made lovely drawings of the situation and to Dandelion the drawing club model. Energy cafe user Manual will be online soon!
Winter Launch!!! at Prick Your Finger
9th December 2010
At last! The moment we’ve all been waiting for! The newly customized Energy Cafe trailer is towed to its first ‘gig’ in public space!
Unveiling its shiny self on Globe Road, Bethnal Green, East London, to coincide with an opening at the world’s greatest haberdashery shop: Prick Your Finger
Wood smoke mingled with the lights and electrical atmosphere of this busy corner in London, bringing a touch of candle-light ‘countryside’ to the city.
Inside Prick Your Finger, Gina Birch from the Raincoats, rocked out to her exhibition of slogans, bags and banners called ’57 Ways’…
…while Energy Cafe was clearly an intriguing and charming street side attraction for visitors and locals, who’d like to see it return to their neighborhood! Over the last six months, we’ve been inviting people to share their thoughts on what locations, activities and events Energy Cafe could be involved with in the future. We’ve found that there is no shortage of ideas and interest for Energy Cafe as a community resource. All this talk has helped us in putting together a user-friendly manual: Coming Soon!!
A seasonal menu of mince pies and chocolate clementines was served up with piping hot, locally brewed spiced cider and wine mulled on the ranger…
…fired up with roadside-chopped waste wood.
How many people can you fit into a converted horse box? There must have been at least 25 squeezed in at one point…
Many thanks to Rachael and Louise from Prick Your Finger, to Vince for towing, Amanda and Ross for helping out on the night, James and others for supplying extra wood for the burner and to everyone who came to toast Energy Cafe’s new chapter and future nomadic adventures.
Not forgetting the police officer who directed us out of the one way street in the morning! As Energy Cafe was towed by Simon all the way to deepest Dorset.
We spent three days serving lunch on Powerstock Common, doing a ‘recce’ with locals for a future springtime event as part of artist, Anna Best‘s project: A Road For the Future.
We’ll keep you posted!
Hawkwood Nursery Open Day this Sunday 27th June 11 – 4
Chingford E4 7UH
Energy Cafe will be serving Elderflower cordial, made with flowers harvested from a Hawkwood tree. If you are curious to see the beautiful site where we are based, please join us for a glass, take a walk through the meadow grass, see what’s growing and have a peek in the garage to see the trailer interior undergoing a transformation: from humble horse box to hand crafted kitchen.
Energy Cafe is ready for Interns and Volunteers, Thanks to Organiclea!
In sympathy with the slow food movement the trailer is edging its way south. With a wink of its new indicator lights (thanks Andy!), last week Gino towed it just half a mile down the road to Organiclea’s Hawkwood Nursery on the woodland edge of Epping Forest. This inspirational worker’s cooperative aims to help people get their hands into the soil, encouraging community food growing in the city. A beautiful, productive, tranquil oasis, Hawkwood is home to their latest resource: glasshouses, growing beds, fields, a classroom and future plans for orchards and vineyards. With our shared philosophies, its a perfect partnership for Energy Cafe. Responding to the spring call-out for an undercover base, they’ve very generously offered us space in their Hawkwood garage until the end of August in exchange for rent-in-kind.
A roof! Organic Lea’s Huf nudging the trailer into its new home.
Throughout the summer months we’re planning to install as many of the ideas for the off-grid kitchen as we can, getting it ready for the road. We’ve enlisted Vince, a local member of the Energy Cafe team and skilled joiner to focus on the interior fit-out and we’re now ready for energetic interns.
If you’d be interested in joining the team during this young and exciting construction phase, we’d love to hear from you. We are seeking one or two people who can spend a few days a week, preferably over the duration of the next three months. Tasks can be wide-ranging and may include: helping out with the trailer customization inside and out; investigating off-grid technologies (solar panels, water harvesting, bicycle power); supporting publicity, planning events and workshops; hunting for materials and scrounging things for free; searching for local / wild food; making off-grid cups of tea… and more! Its a wonderful learning opportunity and although we are currently working to plan, Energy Cafe welcomes fresh input and ideas. We’ll cover travel and lunch expenses too.
Please email us: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone: 07791246022 / 07947367463, and tell us about your experience, your passions and what you hope to get out of volunteering with Energy Cafe. We look forward to hearing from you!
During our time at Gunpowder Park, Energy Cafe sparked and grew the possibility of a common land. Being open and attracting community was at its core. For this next phase, retreating from the public feels important, to focus and prepare the trailer for community once again. Energy Cafe is sensitive to wherever it finds itself. Hawkwood Nursery has its own network of workers and volunteers, all of whom are coming into contact with the project in their own unique way. But Energy Cafe will be holding some public events during work-in-progress and we hope to see you there! The first will be on Sunday 27th June when the Nursery holds is next open day. Watch this space for a more detailed posting nearer the time…
Once again, a massive cheers to the brilliant people at Hawkwood Nursery, Organiclea! Thanks for your support guys…
Goodbye Winter, Hello Spring!
Being the first day of Spring and exactly a year since the Energy Café 24 Hour Spring Banquet at Gunpowder Park, we felt it timely to share the exciting news that Energy Café has recently received a grant from the Big Lottery Fund.
This means, after months of figuring through plans and restoring energy we can now move into the new phase: Energy Café goes mobile. We will use this funding to complete the construction work inside the trailer, to continue what we started, to make a fully functional off grid community kitchen, based on all the ideas and designs generated during the pilot phase in Gunpowder Park. We will also be launching a new website in the coming months, planning some Energy College Workshops and host a launch celebratory cook–up (locations to be announced later!).
All this time – since May last year, the trailer has been quietly lodged at Gino’s place that he calls ‘the land where time forgot’ – a scrap yard local to Gunpowder Park. Now we are searching for a new temporary home for the trailer, ideally in East London – but we’re open to other possibilities – we are looking for a practical workshop space or any secure disused undercover plot to work on the trailer ready for the summer. If you know of such a place that we could use for a couple of months please contact us!
A big thank you to everyone who has been so supportive and enthusiastic about the potential for Energy Café during this fallow time, those whom have shared ideas and given advice… behind the scenes the momentum is gathering…. We’ll keep you posted!
The Big Lottery Fund distributes half of the National Lottery good cause funding across the UK. The fund is committed to bringing real improvements to communities and the lives of people most in need. www.biglotteryfund.org.uk
Read more about the post Gunpowder Park phase here: about
About the site
Energy café will be based in the Field station over flow Car Park. The location is ideal, a vacant piece of land, approx one acre – slightly hidden from the main parkland, a popular route for dog walkers and other park users. It is close to the main road, so easy for people to stop and take an energy café break!
Directly opposite Energy Cafe site, stands the Sainsbury’s Distribution Unit – apparently the largest in Europe.
We are continuing our investigation in the food production to debate. We are making a documentary within the six mile radius – talking to growers who have from allotments, gardens, farms to large scale Agri business. If you would like to take part in the film please get in touch.
We found five unidentified concrete circular stones.
Imagined it an ideal base for building clay, brick and mud ovens.
Does anybody have an idea what these were used for?
we presume they are mill stones that were originally used in the Gunpowder mill?
Identifying and drawing the edible wild food on energy café site
View from Energy Café site just after the harvest.
Gunpowder Park entrance to the field station
The Field Station
Gunpowder park comprises of 175 acres of natural parkland with 21 historic buildings.
“The Royal Gunpowder Mills at Waltham Abbey have been involved in the production and development of explosives for over 300 years. Gunpowder was the first, and for some centuries the only explosive and propellant. Later the site manufactured guncotton, nitro-glycerine, cordite paste and tetryl, and after World War II the site became a research establishment for non-nuclear explosives and propellants’.
We have talked to a few local residents who remember the small arms factory where many local residents found employment. We discovered that the earliest works relied on water power to manufacture gunpowder.
“By the end of the 19th century chemical explosives were replacing gunpowder. The incorporating mills and other buildings were converted to produce these new explosives like cordite, and new buildings were constructed. After World War II the site changed again to a research establishment and many of the buildings were converted into laboratories. www.royalgunpowdermills.com
With its history as an explosives testing ground, the land became highly contaminated. In the 1990s it went through a remediation process, that wasn’t entirely successful as now there are mine shafts appearing thoughout the parkland. Consequently much of the park is fenced off, out of access to park goers. The positive side of this however is that it has allowed natural wildlife to take root.
Local resident, allotmenteer, Julie warned us to not use the ground directly for growing.
This also puts in question all the wild food we have found in the area – so we would like to find someone who can give us advice on this too.