An inner-city meadow, a three piece band, jam sandwiches, a strawberry patch, fifty stitchers, a barn of animals and my little toddler rampaging around. It was a weird wee scene; both very local (I’m sorry, but East London is crazy. Everyone wears such silly clothes but I KNOW they are clothes that we will all be wearing in two years time. *gah* Those hipsters) and hugely global.
We were crafting up lids to fit on to jam jars, jars that would eventually be filled with a scrumptious tomato jam – based on a recipe from a Kenyan farmer, Christine.
In a way Christine is your typical farmer – but what makes her typical is pretty surprising. She is a woman, for starters (women are responsible for most of the world’s food production). And she also doesn’t have quite enough food to eat (small scale farmers like Christine make up 50% of the undernourished and women make up 80% of the world’s poorest.)
But Christine’s jam oozes with bold, sticky hope.
A few years ago Christine was destitute, her husband had died of Aids and with no rights or access to power, Christine and her two kids were reliant on the kindness of strangers. Now, however, she chairs a small female cooperative group who grow tomatoes (one of those mega crops that is resilient to livelihood upheavaling drought) and they make this jam to sell at the market. The jam is BEYOND delectable and is a right old hit with the customers.
That is quite a story for one little jar to contain, don’t you reckon?
I guess it was in an act of solidarity that we came together in one of London’s city farms to eat said jam on sandwiches, and to let our creative juices pour out over needle and thread. We talked about hunger, the parts of our global food system that are utterly broken, the ways people can do something, who we were going to give our jar of jam to.
We have masses of tomato plants in the garden and I can’t wait for the glut to hit *probably announced a bit to hopefully* – I am going to fill my little jar up, pop my stitched up lid on and give it to my MP, Harriet Harman. I will ask her to stand up on behalf of small-scale farmers like Christine, to fight the powerful tentacles of huge food corporations, and to promote local food systems in our urban village of Camberwell.
Needless to say, Sunday was probably my ideal kind of day. Dreaming together of a future where everyone has enough to eat, crafting up world changey messages and letting Ramona frolick with the farm beasts (check out this little video of her encountering a rooster) combined all the things I love.
And I think it is here, taking what you love and doing it for a more beautiful world, where change lies. Hope doesn’t thrive when limited to certain behaviours, and activists fizzle out after the one millionth petition signature. But if people can marry the thing that gives them energy – be it sewing, blogging, gardening, writing poetry, being a hipster- with their passion for justice and fairness, change will come.
Makes 6 jars
● 5 cups peeled and quartered tomatoes.
● Strips of the tomato skin
● 5 cups of sugar
● 1 lemon, sliced thinly and seeded
● 2 tablespoons butter
Put tomatoes, sugar and sliced lemon in large, heavy pot and bring to slow boil over medium high heat, stirring occasionally. When foam rises to surface, add butter and continue stirring and simmering until preserves thicken, about 45 minutes. (To test, stick a fork in. When preserves cling to tines of fork, it should be thick enough to can). Pour preserves into sterilized jars, seal and process in hot water bath for 15 minutes.
This is your world. Shape it, or someone else will!
To get the full low-down on this beautiful project have a peep at Craftivist Collective founder (and the wonderful person I job share with here at Oxfam) Sarah, explain it in this AMAZE vid:
Have you found a way to do the thing you love for good?