On a recent supermarket trip we noticed a slight change in the produce on the shelves, we were delighted to see gin produced in Hammersmith and sausages made in Romford; it was almost possible to fill the trolley with food and drink produced within the M25 borders. Sustainability and localism are the current buzz words; yet surely both are used in conjunction with rural farming and remote villages? It would seem not; within London there is a popular movement of businesses, activist groups, local communities, amateur gardeners keen to promote home-grown food and drink. Currently, 80 percent of what Londoners eat comes from abroad – we rely heavily on foreign supply lines; however if we wanted to look for locally produced food and drink we could easily find it.
Underneath the train arches of Tower Bridge Evin O’Riordain brews ales and beers at his Kernel Brewery. It’s a a small batch plant producing local London beer; O’Riordain bottles and labels everything by hand and is open for customers on a Saturday. Further North in Stoke Newington, Ole-Martin Hansen smokes salmon in his own smokery. Using the traditional methods he inherited from his Norweggian grandfather Hansen smokes salmon to supply to Shoreditch restaurants including Viajante, The Rivington and Homa. For five years Toby Mason has been keeping bees in Regents Park and selling their honey, due to the diversity of the flowers and plants in the park Toby claims the honey is much more interesting than country honey. The taste, colour and texture change with the flowers that the bees get from the nectar throughout the season. If you live in London and suffer from hayfever, Toby’s honey may be a good remedy to try; as the honey contains traces of local pollen, the allergen, it strengthens the immune system.
Whilst not everyone may have their own smokery or beehives to hand, and the ability to bottle their own beer there are other simpler ways to promote localism. We have always been keen advocates of the “grow-your-own” movement, and it’s getting easier and easier to grow your own edible produce in your small, urban outdoor space. Using our seeds and wooden crates you can create easy to maintain vegetable patches. Beyond this there are a sleuth of local groups and businesses to support. Hubbub is an online order company delivering locally sourced food and drink to homes in North London. The Guerrilla Gardening organisation strives to plant seeds in obscure urban areas; they have planted orange tulips on Blackfriars’ triangle and beautiful crocuses around bollards on Westminster Bridge Road. On May 5th they are encouraging guerrilla gardeners to plant sunflowers in urban neighbourhood patches that you feel needs brightening up.