Step inside your City Centre farm shop

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The Slow Food Birmingham Hub in the Jewellery Quarter is Birmingham’s very own City Centre farm shop. It offers people a sustainable way of living through the sourcing of local fresh produce from a variety of farmers and producers across the region.

Over a lockdown Zoom session, we caught up with Candace Anderson, one of the co-founders of the JQ hub.

The Slow Food movement

Part of Slow Food Birmingham, the JQ farm shop was established in 2018, however the movement itself began over 30 years ago. Slow Food is a global, grassroots movement that was founded in Italy in 1989. The movement links the pleasure of eating food with a commitment to both the environment and local community.

Its UK arm, Slow Food in the UK, aims to promote a better way to eat and celebrate the rich food traditions of the four nations whilst also protecting the UK’s edible biodiversity. Within the UK, there are 18 groups in total, including Slow Food Birmingham. The role of each group is to create a network, linking members of the public, food producers, chefs and businesses together to spread and enact the Slow Food movement’s philosophies. The groups also have dedicated volunteers that organise events and activities to promote and share the Slow Food ethos. These include everything from farm visits and tasting sessions to film screenings and educational projects. And in Birmingham’s case, the creation of an online farm shop.

A typical box ready for collection

The Slow Food Birmingham Hub in the Jewellery Quarter

The online farmshop operates out of 1000 Trades on Frederick Street – the pickup location for all online orders.

Candace, one of the co-founders, talks about how the hub began life in the Jewellery Quarter and how the Birmingham Hub was born off the back of it.

I’ve always been a keen advocate for sourcing local produce. Back in 2018, I would drive to and from different farm shops throughout the city, just to find fresh produce. I’d also attend the weekly market in Birmingham City Centre. However, even though the sourcing of local produce was sustainable, the travelling certainly was not.

A Jewellery Quarter resident, Candace soon became friends with Kate Smith, who is now Chair of Slow Food Birmingham. They both felt that the Jewellery Quarter – with its links to independent producers and its location north of the city centre — would be an ideal place to develop a food hub. So through launching Slow Food Birmingham, the pair were able to set up the Quarter’s very own city centre farm shop.

So how does it work?

Slow Food Hub JQ
Stacked boxes inside the JQ Slow Food hub

As well as sourcing produce from farmers across Birmingham and the wider region, the JQ Slow Food Hub also works with many local JQ favourites, including Salcooks and the Vanguard Bar. Fresh meals, cocktails and snacks can all be bought via the hub. Simply order your food online and then collect at 1000 Trades on Frederick Street. Due to the current social distancing measures, there are certain times and days that people can pick up their food. More information regarding the process can be found online here.

What does the future hold?

The two founders of the JQ Slow Food Hub, Candace Anderson and Kate Smith, outside 1000 Trades in the Jewellery Quarter

Connecting members of the public to local farmers, therefore increasing accessibility and affordability of fresh food is the Hub’s main goal. So what better way to do this than to open a physical farm shop?

Our dream for the future of the Hub is to one day open a real farm shop in the Quarter. An increase to public access to local, fresh, nutritious food is so vital to our cause and a physical presence will let us do that.

With the current social distancing measures in place, as well as the large investment needed to open a farm shop, plans for a physical presence have been paused. However, Candace is hopeful that even in these uncertain times, positives can still arise.

It’s hoped that with the current lockdown measures, people are finding the time to contemplate the local food system and to experiment with making their own food. It’s this change in thinking that will help spearhead the growth of the hub and as a result help support our local producers and farmers.

To find out more about the JQ Slow Food Hub or to make your first order, visit their online shop here.

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