Pioneering civic food network based in London, using solidarity economics, agroecology and 'right to food' approach to tackle issues of food insecurity and marginalisation

Community Garden
GCK's community garden, established in 2014
Good Food Boxes
One of GCK's "Good Food Boxes". (Picture credit: Jonathan Goldberg)
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Name of organisation
Granville Community Kitchen
Year established
Granville Community Kitchen
South Kilburn community, London, UK
Type of organisation
Community-run kitchen, garden, food aid service, and solidarity veg box scheme
Key words 
Civic Food Network; Food sovereignty; Food aid; Right to Food; Agroecology; Urban food systems
Thematic focus

Who is Granville Community Kitchen?

Founded in 2014 as a community response to the entrenched deprivation, disenfranchisement and ongoing fragmentation of the local community, Granville Community Kitchen (GCK) is a Society for the Benefit of the Community.  They are reimagining their localised food system, co-creating a community of abundance, healing and resilience. It runs a community kitchen, a community garden, a food aid service, and solidarity box scheme – all of which are aimed at enabling the South Kilburn community to access nutritious, affordable and sustainable food. GCK adopts the following principles in pursuit of its aims: 

Dignity – GCK believe that everyone should be treated with dignity and has the right to live in dignity.  

Right to Food and Nutrition – This fundamental human right recognises and protects the right of all human beings to live in dignity, free from hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition. The right to food is not about charity, but about ensuring that all people have the capacity to feed themselves in dignity. GCK is about attempting to meet these rights and needs.  

Agroecology – Food is much more than nutrition for GCK; it is multidimensional. Agroecology weaves all these facets of food together into a tapestry of understanding and practise from the political to the cultural to ecological and sustainable production. 

Food sovereignty – Food sovereignty for GCK provides a radical and practical blueprint for change. GCK places people and those most affected by social inequalities at the centre of decision making. GCK is creating employment for local people and establishing strong workers’ rights to living wages, fair and safe working conditions and ensuring that volunteers are not exploited. GCK ensure education underpins everything they do from capacity building and training courses to the informal learning community of practise that enables people of all ages and abilities to share knowledge and skills. 

Who do Granville Community Kitchen work with and how they do it?

GCK works with a broad range of different stakeholders, including farmers and food producers, chefs and food businesses, community organisations, academics and researchers.

For their veg box scheme, ‘The Good Food Box’, GCK is experimenting with solidarity economy pricing systems which allows them to create win-win synergies between small-scale agroecological farmers and low income/food insecure urban eaters which normally exist in very separate worlds.  

GCK’s tiered pricing system is an attempt to radically re-imagine the food system, encouraging participants to think about and build community health (rather than focusing on the individual). GCK’s main aim here is to reduce price as a barrier to organic food by keeping costs down in all areas of operations, and by setting prices so that those who can afford to pay a little bit more, do so, so that those who need to pay less can still access fresh veg. This is a fundamentally collaborative approach grounded in solidarity rather than charity.

What are Granville Community Kitchen's main challenges?

Through GCK’s work with a community with diverse need and backgrounds, one key challenge has been obstacles community members encounter in accessing healthy and organic food in forms that are culturally appropriate to them. As Dee Woods (co-founder) puts it 

“…just in this small area of approximately 3000 people, almost 400 languages are spoken. So we have a variety of culturally appropriate food needs. And people couldn’t access the foods.”  

Despite this, as Dee continues, “from the very beginning, we have always wanted people to have access to organically grown food and culturally appropriate foods. We have been subsidized to do that work. And we’ve realised very quickly that we still can’t provide the food that our community needs.”

Current legislation on No Recourse to Public Funds means asylum seekers cannot afford food or access free school meals or healthy start vouchers. GCK support some people who “volunteer” and receive fresh food in exchange, but existing welfare legislation makes this work extremely difficult. For this reason, GCK are joining with other groups across the UK to campaign for changes to the law.

What are the priorities for Granville Community Kitchen?

A top priority for GCK over the coming years will be the development of a newly-acquired 10-acre plot in peri urban London. This will allow them to expand many areas of their operations, not only contributing to the ‘Good Food Box’, but also their kitchens and their offer of trainings and workshops. 

“GCK was one of the co-founders of the independent food aid network as a national organisation that supports independent food aid providers. There are now over 500 members of various types of food aid providers from traditional style food banks to community kitchens for faith groups, groups in schools, and mutual aid groups. And we advocate for changes at government level in terms of enabling people to access food in terms of money, addressing poverty, but also addressing the structural issues around poverty, because poverty is the main reason why people can’t access food” (DW, GCK).