By Ella Gibbs | AboutMyArea.co.uk
Local community groups across London and Essex are shocked and saddened to discover that the Energy Café community mobile kitchen was stolen from its temporary base in Hackney, in what is likely to have been an organised theft on 27th July 2011 sometime between 9.00pm and 7.00am. The trailer was in a locked car park at Regents Studios, Andrews Road, London, E8.
The project’s mortified founders and supporters have launched a national campaign to Find Energy Café and are urging people to look out for it, or come forward with any information.
No ordinary café, Energy Café is an incredible not-for-profit community art project. It focuses on education within the
community, providing a playful way for adults and children of all ages to engage with green issues, resourceful living and to learn about sourcing, cooking and eating healthy food.
The hub is a blue horse box, its interior exquisitely hand-crafted into an off-grid kitchen, that functions fully with the help of Henry Ranger wood burning stove, portable solar ovens and Sally the (bike, solar & wind) Power Trolley. Imagine coming across a little horse box on the roadside, wood smoke curling out of its chimney and delicious home-baked smells emerging from inside. Energy Cafe brings a magical taste of the countryside into the heart of the city and its welcoming atmosphere draws all kinds of folk together.
The design grew during its pilot phase in 2008/9 at Gunpowder Park, Waltham Abbey in Essex from a truly collective effort, as many individuals volunteered their time, ingenuity and skills. These ideas took shape, using entirely recycled and donated materials during a stay at the urban food-growing site: Hawkwood Plant Nursery, OrganicLea in Chingford.
The completed mobile kitchen, was launched, in candle light, outside Prick Your Finger haberdashery, Bethnal Green at the end of last year, and since then had travelled to a variety of settings including: Tulse Hill Housing Estate, Spitalfields City Farm, Shoreditch Festival, and the Dorset countryside, encouraging local people to search for wild food in the area, make maps and cook locally grown produce using the quirky kitchen and its off grid technology. From the traditional wood-burning oven to the hi-tech solar-powered blender, seasonal gourmet treats were created such as spring nettle soup, wild summer blackberry pancakes and dandelion beer.
Sefd Macit, a youngster who participated in a recent Energy Café workshop at Spitalfields City Farm, sums up his experience: “I really enjoyed preparing the food today because we worked as a group and made different types of food. Energy Café has friendly staff and kind people. I enjoyed the day it was really amazing and fun”.
The future of Energy Café was looking extremely bright. Even with a minimum amount of publicity and no public funding enquiries were flooding in and the missing mobile kitchen is fully booked until the end of this year by Haggerston Estate, Hackney; Abbey Gardens, Bow; Transition Town Leytonstone, Launch; Waltham Abbey Cucumber Festival and Bloomsbury Festival with The Peoples Supermarket. It has also been invited back to Tulse Hill Estate community garden, Brixton and Spitalfields City Farm for their Harvest Festival.
At the time of the disappearance a permanent East End base was being sought for the mobile kitchen, where it could support the growing of a community garden, running a wide range of activities for all ages, including cooking classes and educational workshops on a regular basis.
“Energy Cafe did a fantastic job of encouraging our young volunteers to enjoy themselves while learning to prepare food using sustainable techniques. We look forward to inviting them back!” Eoin Kearney, volunteer coordinator,
Spitalfields City Farm.
Energy Cafe was orginally commissioned by LANS for the Art of Common Space Public Art programme at Gunpowder Park, Waltham Abbey in 2008. It has been funded and supported by Arts Council England, Lee Valley Park, Gunpowder Park, AboutMyArea EN9 Website, One World Workshop, Magnificent Revolution, Big Lottery Fund: Awards for All,
Organiclea, Barden, Windy Smithy.
Numerous individuals have donated materials and equipment, time and energy. This community art project has been made possible through many hours of volunteered time, expertise and support.
If anyone has seen the trailer or has any idea of its whereabouts, please, please contact Ella on 07947367463 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Please help support their campaign by forwarding this article, join the Facebook page: Find Energy Cafe http://www.facebook.com/#!/event.php?eid=154083891335279 or their Find Energy Twitter page: http://twitter.com/#!/FindEnergyCafe
Recent photos of The Energy Cafe by kind permission of the Ella Gibbs, the first taken at the Shoreditch Festival and the other two show the interior and exterior of the off grid mobile kitchen in a horse box trailer.
To find out about this amazing community project, please see their website: http://energycafe.wordpress.com/ you only have to read the testimonials page on the website to understand quite how much this converted horse box trailer means to people. If you know anything please get in touch!
Ella was excited about being invited to bring the Energy Cafe back to Waltham Abbey to be part of the first ever The Great British Cucumber Festival on 17th September in the Abbey Gardens and we had only recently reconnected to discuss ideas for this event. So I was both upset and angry to hear her sad news and we hope circulating her press release above will help bring some news.
The project touched the lives of many people in Waltham Abbey and their Spring Equinox Event was an incredible day that I will always remember – Site Editor, Kate Towerzey.