Croydon’s first Food Buddies are trained and ready to get out and about in the borough and share their enthusiasm for good-for-you meals.
They are taking the message that adding some home-grown goodness to your diet doesn’t need to be tricky. Anyone can have a mini-garden on their windowsill, and small additions like herbs, shoots and sprouts can make a huge taste difference to what you eat.
Our enthusiastic volunteers got together at the Friends Meeting House in central Croydon on Saturday to get the low-down on some tips for growing and to share their favourite recipes and foods.
They learned about their volunteer role and the support they receive from Garden Organic, training, a dedicated co-ordinator, start-up packs, recipe cards, branded organic polo shirt, badge and fleece. Then it was onto community engagement techniques – setting out an attractive stall and having a go at rolling paper pots. Food Buddies also learned about the work Master Gardeners do in Croydon, and how they can support them by encouraging people to have a go at growing with Master Gardener help.
By 1pm we were ready for our amazing lunch – vegetable biriyani served with chickpea curry and samosas, steamed potatoes and tamarind sauce, all prepared using a minimum of fat and oil. Wonderful advocate of healthy eating Sahara of Mum’s the Chef explained how she has adapted ethnic cuisines to lower the fat content without affecting the delicious flavours.
After lunch chef Rizwana demonstrated how to make a chickpea flour flatbread, flavoured with ajwain and fresh coriander. Mixed together in just a few minutes and cooked on a hot flat plate, the aromatic flatbreads were enjoyed by all the Food Buddies. We were interested to learn that chick pea flour contains no gluten and the ajwain is considered an aid to digestion – just what we needed after our big lunch!
Then it was time to get hands dirty as Food Buddies learned to sow pea shoots, black mustard seeds and haloon, a spicy Indian cress. These three will give you a quick window-sill garden that can be snipped and added to salads etc for extra flavour and freshness.
Food Buddies will be sharing what they have learned at events around Croydon – don’t forget to ask for Rizwana’s flatbread recipe if you spot one in their distinctive black polo shirts!
Our grateful thanks to the Friends Meeting House for hosting our training day and to Sahara and Rizwana for catering. Food Buddies are trained and supported by Garden Organic to encourage Croydon residents to try healthier, home-grown food. If you love good food, enjoy meeting new people and have 30 hours over a year to spare, please get in touch with Liza for a chat. Training this spring.
They will be out and about at Croydon events this year, with recipe cards, herbs to taste, and sharing their ideas to include fresh veg and fruit in your diet. They’ll also be demonstrating just how easy it can be to get growing at home, with paper pots, recycled containers and low-cost seeds. Our Food Buddies will also be building links in their own communities, letting residents and community groups know about the Food Flagship and Garden Organic’s Master Gardener programme, and how they can get involved.
If you’d like a Food Buddy at your event, please get in touch with Liza here. We also offer free food growing advice from a Master Gardener, either at home or at one of Croydon’s community gardens. Get in touch if you would like to learn to grow your own organic fruit and veg. We’re also very keen to signpost Croydon folk to any healthy eating initiatives in their area – if you know of cookery classes etc please let us know!c