Peckham Cart Project: Building a Local Food Economy

23rd June 2017 Food, Workshop

The story of how Peckham Cart Project came to be is a special one that’s told best by the people who started it:
Our story starts with Manuel, a professional French baker who arrived in Peckham 25 years ago with a taste for high quality baked goods and social justice. Passionate about the rights of immigrant and refugees, he became and remains a component part of Southwark Refugee Project. When austerity slashed funding, Manuel set-up Peckham Cart Project, a static cart in the Aylesham Centre from which he sold his bread and cakes, with all profits going to the Refugee project.

We stumbled upon Manuel and the Cart when we were out collecting surplus food to cook up into a big three course community feast at Peckham Foodcycle, a weekly project we had helped establish one year previously.

‘Wow Manuel’, we said ‘What beautiful doughnuts you have!’‘Oh!’ cried Manuel, ‘All the better for filling with Foodcycle’s surplus fruit jam!’”

Needless to say, the project took off, they were making and distributing 100 doughnuts a week around Peckham & collecting the profits for the refugee project. “For us Peckham Cart had become a symbol of strength, community and support.” As well as generating money for this important cause, Peckham Cart is using the humble doughnut to redefine how we view our economy; The economy they envision is “one where small scale producers, local people, community causes and the environment benefit.  A circular food economy if you like, one that feeds Peckham as it is fed by Peckham.”

We chatted to them further about what’s next for Peckham Cart, and what we can do to help:

What can be done by the public to support Southwark Refuge and Migrant Project?

Southwark Refugee and Migrant Project was founded in 1991 and has played an important role in supporting refugees and migrants with ESOL, employability workshops and social activities. Peckham Cart currently donates all the proceeds from doughnut sales to the Project, which, under the pressure of cuts to funding, is in a critical position. (Aside from buying a doughnut!) The public can support the project in a number of ways. The pressure is on to secure the funding that will allow the project to continue its operations, so any donations direct to the project would be much appreciated. Alternatively, there are a range of opportunities for people to volunteer, whether you’re skilled in web development, marketing, language teaching, immigration and employment law or events organisation – any support for the project could make a real difference.
What are the Peckham Cart Project working on at the moment?

While in the short term, Peckham Cart will be donating all the proceeds from doughnut sales to Southwark Refugee And Migrant Project, we have our minds set on creating a much bigger impact locally! We want money to stay in Peckham and to sustain Peckham. We’re building relationships with some amazing producers and community projects, all within 5 miles of Peckham. Over the next few months we’ll be introducing more products, like our hyper-local brunch boxes comprising of bagels, jams, eggs, bacon, smoked salmon, juices, and more. Ultimately we want to enable a new kind of local buying culture, where people can exchange volunteer hours at local projects for our products. We want to redefine what it means to be an investor, by getting people to really invest their time and skills in projects that are close to home.

You make mouth watering-ly good doughnuts! What other delights do you guys create?

We are working with some amazing local producers and soon will be delivering hyper-local boxes jam packed with delicious local products; smoked meats, cheeses, jams, fruit and veg, nut-butters and more. We’re still experimenting with other products that will allow us to show case the best of Peckham’s produce!

Photographs by Cedar Film Co

To find out more about Peckham Cart, please visit their website.