North London Food & Culture

MUST DO: Urban Harvest Fest

Herb martinis, apple pressing, mushroom-growing, foraged nibbles, live music, poetry...all at this weekend's free community festie, says organiser Debbie Bourne

A basket of saffron milk cups. Photo: Stephen Emms
A basket of saffron milk cup mushrooms. Photo: Stephen Emms

This Saturday, the health centre on Bartholomew Road, also home to the Freespace gallery, will be turned into a festival space celebrating local food. It’s an event organised by us folk here at Transition Kentish Town.

As one of the curators, I have to say it’s been a really joyous experience connecting with locals and businesses who are really passionate about local food: martinis made from local gin and herbs grown on-site in the ‘Well-beeing’ garden, for example, or mushrooms from guys who plan to rent a garage in Gospel Oak and turn their passion into a business.

Stylish: poster for the event. Image: Transition KT
Stylish: poster for the event. Image: Transition KT

Then there are local chicken keepers (not forgetting to mention the hensioners – pensioners with, er, chicks) and the hedgerow jams and jellies made by local blogger Marmaduke Scarlet. There’s Gill Jacob’s fermentation fabulosity, and Pestival, a talk on pests and insects as future protein. And, as part of our campaign to bring back the ‘cuppa soup’, mugs of hot organic veg broth will be served courtesy of the local veg box scheme.

It means so much to me that we have been able to persuade truly local hero, Therasa, who manages Flapjacks café – the social enterprise, and her team of special needs and often disabled folk, to come and provide the catering. They’ll be serving their mouthwatering selection of quiches and of course flapjacks.


It also means a lot to see kids using our apple press and squishing some of the many thousand of unwanted apples that lay fallen on the streets, turning them into delicious juice. Come and have a go and taste the juice – it’s all for free.

Talking of kids, Rhyll school, who are trying to raise dosh for an outside kitchen, will be baking up herby scones and lavender juice.

Have I had one too many herb martinis or is that the tube station in the distance? Photo: Stephen Emms
Have I had one too many herb martinis or is that the tube station in the distance? Photo: SE

Of course there’s the other side of the local food story, the whole topic of food waste. In this country we throw away seven million tonnes of food and drink a year. Come along to get some tips on how to cut down on waste, and take home some portion-serving gadgets to help you do so.

The 'Well-beeing' garden at the centre. Photo: FS
The ‘Well-beeing’ garden at the centre. Photo: FS

As outside green food-growing space is a problem for so many of us in north London, there’ll be a stall where folk will be shown how to make a herb window box out of a recycled pallet, and take it away with them.

Finally: the harvest pie competition. What exactly is that? We’re not sure either, but please just bake one, whatever it means to you, and bring it along to win a prize.

So this Saturday join our community to share a vision for what local food really means to us.

The Urban Harvest Fest runs on Saturday 26th September from 11am-4pm at the Health Centre, Bartholemew Rd, NW5. Free entry. On 30th Sept, they host a special Michaelmas Green Feast at The Grafton. More details here

Read about the free harvest festival in King’s Cross this Friday here.

Debbie Bourne is author of The High-Heeled Gardener, and co-owner of local wildlife garden design company, Of Butterflies And Bees

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