Our Social Media and Communications Intern Shannon Currie sat down for a chat with Edible Estates’ Community Food Officer Catherine Fyfe about her role at Edible Estates, what a typical day looks like in the role, and what she hopes to achieve with community food projects.
1. What is your role?
My role is to coordinate and manage our community food projects, such as Community Chef and Community Picnics. During the height of the pandemic, I was working with our chef Tona Soto as part of the Community Chef project to produce 100 meals per week for the Holy Trinity Food Bank, and 60 meals per week for the Calders Residents Association. That was very much an emergency response and something that we wanted to evolve as soon as the Covid restrictions let us, we want to ensure that having one of our meals is more of a social experience and an opportunity to try new food and participate in community events.
The Community Picnic format creates that space and opportunity for local people to enjoy and experience food. My role is to support people facing food insecurity. Food insecurity differs from food poverty as it means that a person’s financial income makes it difficult for them to buy, eat and enjoy healthy, fresh and varied foods. So, both pre-Covid and now as we move to less restrictions, my role involves trying to inspire local people to participate in and enjoy events in our gardens, as well as things like cooking classes, in the hope that I can show them how to make their shopping bill go that little bit further, while making their meals more nutritious and also reducing food waste, all of which exists under the umbrella of food education.
2. What made you want to work at Edible Estates?
My previous job was also based in Wester Hailes and so I was familiar with Edible Estates and their community projects. I was interested in moving on to a new challenge, and since I’m fond of the area and local people, I wanted to work more closely with them and really get stuck into more community-focused projects.
3. What does a typical day in your role look like?
Everyday is really different in my role, one day might be spent cooking and preparing meals with Tona as part of the Community Chef project, while another may be with Alan Gordon one of our Community Gardeners, focusing on project development. Working on fundraising with Greig Robertson, Edible Estates Director is a big part of my week at the moment, but while the task may vary, food and community is really at the heart of everything I do in a day at Edible Estates. It’s really varied but that makes it an enjoyable job to have.
4. What do you hope to achieve in your role?
In terms of what I think is an achievable goal, I really want to ensure that more local people are enjoying and experiencing healthy food and are able to be a more active member of the community and our projects. One of the hardest parts of my job is garnering more participation, so my goal is to improve that, and have more people coming along to events and hopefully taking something positive away from them, whether that be becoming inspired to eat healthier or trying to cook a new dish themselves. There’s so much healthy and delicious food to experience and with that comes the chance to help tackle various health issues so that people can live happier and healthier lives, and so exposing more people to that opportunity through our projects is a constant goal.
5. What’s a positive change that you’ve seen in the community since being in the role?
I think the most positive thing is that with the last year being so difficult due to Covid, everyone continued on and did their best to adapt using the resources and partnerships that they still had access to. This included working to ensure there was emergency food provision for local people through the Wester Hailes Eats Together and Community Chef projects, since food insecurity was exacerbated for many throughout the height of the pandemic. Our gardens were also still open throughout restrictions which I think was really positive as they provided a constant space for members of the community in a time of uncertainty, and lessened feelings of isolation, and I think it was great for local people to see that we still cared and were trying our best for them.
Our Canal View Primary School Farm Leaders Julie Parkin and Georgia Forsyth will give an insight into what their role involves, and their plans for the School Farm this coming academic year.