Pompey Preserves is an initiative started up by FoodCycle Portsmouth as a way to make sure every last bit of donated food was put to some good use, whilst providing a new fundraising opportunity for the Hub. Read this guest post by the Portsmouth team about how this fantastic initiative came about, and the impact it has had locally!
Sometimes even after our community meals were served we would be left with an overload of produce – boxes of ‘on the turn’ bananas, slightly too squishy plums, or an abundance of lettuces. Rather than allow it to go on the compost heap, one of our local volunteers, Gail, looked for another way to use it and came up with jams, pickles and preserves.
As well as creating the recipes, Gail developed and designed the brand behind it – Pompey Preserves. The range varied with the excess food we had: weekly challenges were put on Gail to create something tasty, exciting, and appealing to the public. As the piles of jars grew and grew, attention was turned to how to get rid of them? Initially a few were sold from the Johh Pounds Centre, where we are based, whilst plans were in the making for a wider audience.
Getting in touch with our local Tesco was the next stop, where we enjoyed a huge amount of support from Community Champion Gemma Morrison. A date was set to hold a pop up stall in Tesco Fratton Park, from which to promote Pompey Preserves, spread the word about FoodCycle and raise some money with payment by donation! Local blogs helped to raise awareness as did posters and a drive on our social media. As Saturday 30th July rolled around, a team of volunteers led by top jam maker Gail and Hub Coordinator Megan set up stall in a prime spot of Tesco, visible to every single shopper passing through.
Over 70 jars were up for grabs including new and exciting products, such as the Korean supper dish Kimchi, alongside twists on old favourites, including Banana Jam, Grapefruit Marmalade and Pickled Cucumber. The range wowed the Tesco staff, who were enthusiastic in promoting the preserves to customers, as well as buying a few themselves.
As for the customers, the reaction was even better than hoped! A steady stream of interested people would come over to the stall – enticed by the delicious looking tasters, asking questions about who we were and what we were doing. FoodCycle banners made customers aware of the background to Pompey Preserves, whilst our volunteers filled them in with extra info. Having the tasters out meant that even our more unusual flavour combos went down a storm, such as Kiwi and Carrot Relish (a perfect cheese accompaniment).
The attention grew throughout the day, and the array of jars began to thin out. Pickles were particularly in demand, with BBQ season in full swing, people had an eye out for a tasty burger filler. The Mixed Berry Jam was a classic that also went down a treat, whilst feedback from the public led to a few small changes – Banana Jam being renamed Banana Curd!
Local police stopped by for a chat and a taste, posing for pictures and finding out more about FoodCycle. Later on in the day, local paper The News dropped in to take a few shots and get some quotes from volunteers – we’re keeping our eyes peeled for an article to come! As the day started to wind down, we were left with only 10 jars, and had made over £180! This was fantastic news, as it showed us that the demand was out there, the public loved the products and were more than happy to support FoodCycle and all the work that we do.
The attention and feedback we received exceeded expectations: Tesco have now invited us back for a monthly slot! The brand will continue to grow and a dedicated session in the week for volunteers will soon be available to help Gail out on the cooking front – it’s no longer a one-woman job! The pickles and preserves will vary, with volunteers using whatever food we have leftover from serving our 2 community meals in the week. This ensures we have a constantly changing line of products making sure that no food goes to waste. We will continue to offer the range in partnership with Tesco Fratton Park, building links with our local supermarket and one of our surplus food suppliers.
As both a fundraiser and an awareness-raiser, the event was a huge success, and just the start of Pompey Preserves, which looks to get only bigger and better! A definite recommendation to other FoodCycle’s round the country who are looking for different ways to raise money and eliminate food waste.