The Botley community fridge saves 100-200kg/wk of food from going to the waste stream

This chart shows how many kilos of food have gone through the Botley community fridge since April 2018.  This is the MINIMUM, since some food gets dropped off with rough sleepers en route to the fridge, and some food gets dropped off at the fridge whose weight doesn’t get recorded.  About 6 tonnes per year, and an average of 2ookg/wk in Dec 19 / Jan 20.

Weight of food Feb 20

Christmas party at the Leys community larder!

We hadn’t expected to get about 100 people to our first larder party, but we did.  We had delicious curry, mince pies, face painting, a smoothie bike, a gingerbread man decorating table, a tombola, Santa in his very own grotto/tent, and of course the larder!  Well done all the brilliant volunteers, including people coopted from Catalyst (who funded the party, thank you).  We’re all exhausted and elated.

Week 4

In the first week, we realised that we’d need more materials for the children’s play area, so we got some floor tiles, pens and other toys:


We also got some crates to help show which food goes together:


The volunteers have been having a short meeting before each session, to identify how the larder could be improved.  This week they put together an agreement for what they would be expected to do as volunteers, e.g. arrive on time.

Week 1

The first proper community larder was on 9 October.  We got all the food set up, we practice our roles, and we got our T shirts!


About 15 people showed up, and about 8 signed up the first week – fewer than we had hoped for, but a lot more than zero!  People seemed delighted with the amount and quantity of food that they were getting.  We told everyone to tell their friends…


First meeting, volunteer induction and mock larder

Our first meeting about a Leys community larder was on 11 September 2019.  The aim was to gauge if there was interest in the idea, and possibly to recruit volunteers.  About 25 people showed up to the first meeting and half a dozen possible volunteers emerged.

From then on things moved very quickly.

We had a volunteer induction on 25 September, led by Claire Hughes.  The volunteers learned about how Sofea operates, where the food comes from, what kind of food would be provided etc.  We agreed that the volunteers would get red T shirts with logos.  Volunteers get a free membership.

The next week we had a ‘mock larder’.  Sofea brought some food, we learned how to set it up on the tables and how to keep it off the ground; how to get people signed up; how to deal with some possible problems… and possible future larder members were invited to visit the mock larder and sign up.


We visit the Didcot community larder

So I’m starting this blog a bit late in the day, four weeks into the Leys community larder becoming operational, but I wanted to record how the Leys larder got set up.

I contacted FareShare in summer 2019 with the intention of buying more food from FareShare for the Leys community fridge.  Claire Hughes from Sofea (the apprentice training arm of FareShare) contacted me back, suggesting that we might want to set up a community larder instead.  If we supplied a venue and volunteers, Sofea would supply everything else: food, admin, the works.

Between us, we visited the Didcot larder – the first in the country – twice in July.  We were very impressed by it, and made a little video about it:

Larder photo

Basically it’s a food club.  People pay £8.66 per month direct debit (£17.32 for a family membership), and in return they get access to a cafe, children’s play area, a couple of annual events… and up to 10 (20 for families) items of non-perishables per week, plus free fruit and vegetables.  The food comes from FareShare, who in turn get it as surplus food from wholesalers.  The aim is to reduce food waste, build some community spirit, and get food to peole who can use it.  Perfect for Blackbird Leys.