Friday’s one of our busiest days here at The Real Junk Food Project Brum. Not only do we have our regular Friday café at Ladywood Health and Community Centre, we also intercept the majority of our fresh fruit and vegetables from the wholesale market and run our ‘Freegan Box’ scheme.
Me and my fellow barrow boy, Sedge, get to the Birmingham wholesale market at about 7.30am, just as trade begins to wrap up for the day. If we’re lucky we have time for a bacon and egg butty in the on-site greasy spoon before we manoeuvre Victorian-style trolleys laden with fruit and vegetables back to the van. This week we intercepted 392.7kg of produce that was all scheduled for destruction. One of the highlights was the juicy watermelons that Earl from Caribbean Produce donated. Feed bellies, not bins!
Earl and I at Caribbean Produce
No matter how early we get to the market we always seem to finish our round at 10:00am, by which time our chefs are ravenous to get their mitts on some of the produce for the Friday lunch service. So our second call is Ladywood Health and Community Centre.
Chef Vinnie handling the goods
The remaining fruit and vegetables are sorted for our ‘Freegan Box’ scheme; our pop-up cafés around Birmingham; and any other events that we have been asked to cater for in the upcoming days.
Left: 25 ‘Freegan Boxes’ sorted and ready to go; Right: A box of goodies
Like all the food we do, the ‘Freegan Boxes’ work on a Pay-As-You-Feel basis. If you like what you see, just click to order your very own.
Once our chefs have been satiated and the food all sorted, it’s time for lunch at Ladywood. We also drop off some of the ‘Freegan Boxes’ at the café for those who want to collect their box. On the menu this week at our Ladywood café was garlic bruschetta to start, topped with courgette and tomato fresh from the market that morning. The main was meat medley stew, with a side of cabbage and new potatoes again from the market. The fruit that was incepted that morning was also made into a fruit salad for desert.
Much needed sustenance
Our destination after a post-lunch cup of tea is the greenhouses at Birmingham City Hospital to pay homage to their hot aerobic composters. Any food that we cannot use is composted there and used by community grow schemes around Birmingham so that none of the food that we intercept goes to waste.
We might get a couple of hours in the afternoon to put our feet up before we deliver the remaining ‘Freegan Boxes’. This week we had 12 deliveries on a 30-mile route around central and south Birmingham, providing fresh fruit and vegetables to families, refugees and hostels.
Marva receiving her ‘Freegan Box’
We finish around 8.30pm, by which time it is time for a pint with some of the other volunteers and for me to beat Sedge at pool.
Thomas Garnham is a volunteer with TRJFP Brum and coordinator of the ‘Freegan Box’ scheme. He is currently working towards his master’s degree in Global Ethics at the University of Birmingham. He is also a gobbler of junk food.