We are just back from our summer holiday in west Wales, where we discovered the lovely Transition Cafe in Fishguard.
The cafe, which was opened by Transition Bro Gwaun in June 2013, collects surplus food from local shops and businesses – within a 4 mile radius to minimise the food miles – and turns as much as possible into affordable and healthy meals for sale. The menu changes daily – while we were there it included quiches and pasta bakes. All main courses are served with a large portion of salad, and the average price was around £3.
The cafe is run by 30+ volunteers with the support of 2 part-time paid staff (and has achieved the highest hygiene rating going from local Environmental Health inspectors).
Surplus food can’t cover all the cafe’s requirements, and it does have to buy in things like butter, cream, coffee, tea, flour, sugar, rice, pasta, and cleaning and hygiene products. But they estimate that they save 100 kilos of food from landfill every week – half of this is cooked and sold in the cafe, while the other half goes for composting or to a bio-digester (with some used for animal feed, where appropriate).
The project is still exploring ways to achieve its long term aim of becoming a viable social enterprise, able to provide secure employment to local people. At present the cafe is only making sufficient money to employ one young person two days a week and cleaners once a week. Start-up costs and renovation of the premises were achieved through the generosity and hard work of many local businesses and volunteers, and grants from several organisations, including Environment Wales. The cafe building is owned by the local Co-op supermarket, and is provided rent-free.
More than just a cafe though, the premises act as a community resource, holding Food Safety training courses, as well as musical and other events. It is also well stocked with leaflets and books on waste reduction and sustainable living and information about other local events and organisations.
What about Redhill?
So…could we do something like this in Redhill? The following quote from the Transition Bro Gwaun website highlights why people might want to get involved:
“The project has been particularly successful in attracting volunteers from a much wider cross section of the community than have previously engaged with Transition Bro Gwaun activities.
“In addition to traditional Transitioners, it has attracted people who just can’t abide food waste, people who want to see low cost healthy meals available in the area, people concerned about poverty, people who want to see empty shops put to good use, people who want new and different initiatives to energise and regenerate the town, organisations who want more work experience opportunities for local young people, and finally, but most importantly, creative cooks who just love the challenge of having to make a meal out of whatever odd assortment of food comes through the door.”
Obviously this isn’t something we could set up overnight, and it will need quite a few volunteers to get it going, but if you think it sounds interesting, please get in touch – leave a comment on this post, send us an email (email@example.com) or pop in to one of our meetings in The Garland on Brighton Road (3rd Tuesday of every month – as of writing this article the next one is on 16 September, but see the event list on the right for future meetings).
More information on the Transition Cafe in Fishguard can be found here.