April 21, 2011

A big thanks to environmental resource the Kingcombe Centre for lending cafe furniture.

And a special thanks to Debbie who also serves a delicious cake and cuppa!


June 3, 2010

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: pilotpublishing@googlemail.com 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!

Open Day
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…

November 15, 2008

Food Co-ops and Community Kitchens at the Broadwater Farm Estate: 13th Sept


Quite a few people have mentioned, Haringey, Tottenham and Broadwater Farm Estate to us in relation to Energy Cafe. Haringey now has a networking group of residents who are concerned with the environmental crisis: Sustainable Haringey
As a major part of this, a mini revolution seems to be taking place at the Broadwater Farm Estate and the adjacent Lordship Recreation Ground. We took a trip to Tottenham to visit the ‘Restore the Rec Community Festival’ to find out more.

The estate is a 1970s social and architectural experiment – approaching it feels like entering someone’s utopian vision. The individual blocks are now characterised by different murals: waterfalls, Bob Marley, John Lennon…there is a community centre and amphitheatre and the recreation ground is a huge piece of land that offers much potential…

Back to Earth Projects are working towards making an environmental centre, community allotment and city farm on Lordship Rec. It will develop “steadily and organically” as they plan to enlist local residents to volunteer or gain training through the work. Its exciting to see how this has become the utopian vision of now…

To begin, Back to Earth have initiated the Tottenham Annual Flower & Produce Show, showcasing and celebrating home-produced fruit and veg, preserves and crafts.




They have also started a Community Kitchen and Food Co-op on the estate. The kitchen serves cheap, international cuisine and an opportunity for budding cooks to train. The co-op sells food produced by Eostre Organics in Norfolk, as well surplus allotment fruit and veg from local gardeners…



…fair trade Palestinian olive oil and soaps


…and tea from the misty hills of Nilgiri in southern India, traded on an alternative economic system which brings the tea directly from the hills to community groups and co-ops. Tricia, who served us, was keen to supply tea to Energy Cafe. We have made this six mile radius rule for food supplies, but its there for us to question and learn more about the pros and cons of sourcing food locally versus global trading. The issue is not so black and white. It was inspiring to come across a project which cuts out the corporate middle men and has human rights at its core. The growers in India are tribal people asserting their land rights and providing people on housing estates in the UK with low cost tea they drink everyday.




Its nice tea too.

To watch an interview with Anne Gray, one of the co-op initiators, see the y blog:

A few bicycles and twice as many legs provided the energy needed to power the sound system, announcing the green-fingered winners of the horticultural show at the end of the day…


November 15, 2008

The Growing Kitchen


In August the Magnificent Revolution Cycle Powered Cinema invited me to the launch of The Growing Kitchen. A project on the Napier Estate – set in the middle of a maze of high rises between Islington and Shoreditch.


On arrival I discovered an incredible oasis


A transformed plot of what once was disused land now abundant with vegetables and edible plants planted by residents.


The raised beds all imaginatively made out of recycled materials, constructed by hand, by the people.


This project was initiated by Grass Shoots Initiatives, supported by the Shoreditch Trust, no feeling of corporates or councils here.


I watched the film (powered by bike peddlers) that documented the process of the construction, growing and cooking. A recipe book called ‘what would you grow here?’ was for sale – compiled by local residents. There was a lot of talk about what events could be held there. It was buzzing.


A few weeks later we (Pilot Publishing) decided to go back, to see how the garden was growing. I spoke with a young mother who lives nearby – she told me how she had watched the project grow and that everyday she sees local residents in the garden tending their plots, maintaining and caring for the space.


She said she would love to learn about how to grow vegetables.

One thing that struck me – was the fact that the gate to the growing kitchen was left unlocked, open day and night. a breath of fresh air I thought. An inspiring niche, an example of trust, generosity and the need for collective venture. This could be a really important case study and model for future projects on estates, wasteland and disused land in the urban environment.


If you know of any other urban growing projects please let us know!

November 7, 2008

Hackney Community Tree Nursery and Edible Forest Garden



Right at the edge of the 6 mile radius in Hackney Marshes I met some volunteers beavering away in a beautiful community garden and tree nursery. The tree nursery has served as a resource for the local area since 2000 including a polytunnel classroom for school children, meetings and permaculture workshops.

Jack kindly gave a tour of the site:

“Forest gardening aims to mimic the way in which species grow in forests, i.e. utilising all the vertical layers (canopy, understorey, groundcover, soil and root systems).”

To find out more or to check out their programme of courses and events visit the Hackney Environment Forum website.