Yesterday, almost 100 students and students’ union delegates, from tens of universities, got together in Leeds for the Student Eats conference on sustainable food. Many have already started progressive food growing community projects at their institutions, and the day provided a valuable opportunity to learn even more. For example, students from Growhampton – Roehampton's food sustainabilty programme – were there.
They day was a smogosbord of workshops, talks and mentoring from people at the top of their foody field. Everyone also had the chance to tour Leeds’ University Union’s roof garden, originally funded by NUS' Green Fund.
The day began with some rousing speeches. Rob Young, NUS’ Vice President (Society and Citizenship) spoke about the vital and urgent need for ethical food production, saying “Sustainable food is vital for individual, social and planetary health – and thus crucial to NUS' work”. Cath Hare, Our Bright Future (OBF) Programme Manager (OBF supports Student Eats), shared her passion for young people’s role in shaping a better future. Finally, Kath Dalmeny, Chief Executive of Sustain – the alliance for better food and farming – shared her conviction that “food is a joyful way to bring people together – especially in the current political climate, a living wall is a stark opposition to Trump’s kind of walls.”
Interspersed with chats, tea, coffee and a colourful vegetarian lunch, were a variety of opportunities to help students shape and build their work with sustainable food. Rupert Aker and Will Marcombe from the Soil Association ran a session on starting a food or farmers’ market on campus. Rachel de Thample, Head of Food for organic box scheme Abel and Cole, ran a class on pickle making, in which delegates made their own jar of delectable preserve. Who knew you could make a pickle using beer! Later in the day, Sally Cunningham from Garden Organic opened people’s minds to a whole new world of ‘unusual edibles’, and Isaac S Tendler from Save our Sandwiches spoke about food waste and redistribution. And this is just a handful of what went on – other sessions covered food co-ops, the art of selling, how to manage volunteers, and governance.
Billy, a Leeds graduate and founder of Honest Edibles, said the conference was “A wonderful event - I thoroughly enjoyed the workshops, and meeting so many engaged people!”
If you’d like to start your own food enterprise, supported by Student Eats, find out more here.