Formed in 2009, Greener Kirkcaldy is a community-led charity and development trust working locally to combat the climate emergency, tackle fuel poverty and food insecurity, and bring people together for a more sustainable Kirkcaldy. With a community garden space, pantry, cooking workshops, energy advice centre and community bike shop, there's all sorts going on in Fife! We asked them our 6 questions to find out more.
1. Tell us about how it all started and a little more about Greener Kirkcaldy.
Greener Kirkcaldy formed in 2009 when a group of local people who volunteered with Friends of the Earth got together with the aim of doing something positive for the community of Kirkcaldy and our environment. They wanted to do something different from their Friends of the Earth campaigning: more local, and more practical.
Our first project was our High Street Advice Centre and in 2011, the Advice Centre moved to 254a High Street and became a drop-in space for anyone to come in for energy advice or to chat to us about our projects, events, volunteering etc. In 2014, we re-branded and relaunched it as the High Street Hub and Eco Shop. We bought ethical food from Greencity until we closed the shop in 2019.
Our second project was the creation of a community orchard at Ravenscraig Walled Garden. The Garden was formerly used by Fife Council as a plant nursery then lay derelict for several years. In 2012 it was brought back into use as a community asset, to be developed over time into a space for community growing, learning and enjoyment. In 2018, we opened a new community training garden and room on the site.
The community space at Ravenscraig Walled Garden
In 2019, we moved into a new community building in Kirkcaldy town centre. We purchased the building at East Fergus Place with a grant from the Scottish Land Fund, a Scottish Government initiative which gives funding and support to help communities take ownership of land and buildings for projects to benefit local people. We received funding from The National Lottery Community Fund (previously The Big Lottery Fund) to refurbish the building.
Greener Kirkcaldy's community building at East Fergus Place
2. How many people are involved in your organisation, how is it split (growing, cycling, cooking…how many volunteers).
We started offering energy advice to people in Kirkcaldy in 2010 when we opened the Energy Advice Centre. Our aim was to help reduce carbon emissions but we quickly realised that saving money was a big issue for many people too – many people in Fife are struggling to pay high fuel bills. In 2013 we teamed up with St Andrews Environmental Network (StAndEN) and Citizen’s Advice & Rights Fife (CARF) to take the service Fife-wide, creating Cosy Kingdom. Greener Kirkcaldy has ten staff in the Cosy Kingdom team. We have two part-time staff working at Ravenscraig Walled Garden and Orchard as well as a sessional staff member and around 25 volunteers who come once a week.
A 'Cosy Kingdom' event stall
In 2019, we also opened our Lang Spoon Community Kitchen in the new building, offering training, volunteer and work experience opportunities, life-long learning around food production and preparation, community meals and engagement with our community on healthy, sustainable food. The Community Food Team has three full-time staff members including a community chef, as well as a sessional worker and a Kickstart young person. We also run a community fridge and pantry as well as making community meals for around 70 people a week. We have 12 pantry volunteers and 6 community meal volunteers as well as 2 volunteers who help with cooking classes.
Our CEO, office manager and welcome area staff members are also based at East Fergus Place.
In October 2020, we opened our new community bike shop on Kirkcaldy High Street, offering bike repairs and servicing, sales of refurbished bikes and accessories, a bike hire scheme, training and events. There are three members of staff in the bike shop and 10 active travel volunteers, all encouraging people to reduce their car use.
The community bike shop
Finally, we have a Communications and Engagement Team of four staff members who run our social media, events and community engagement and run training events around the topic of Climate Change. There are 5 media and climate champion volunteers who work with this team.
So, a total of 3 locations, 6 teams, 28 staff and 60 volunteers!
3. Tell us a little about the people you support.
We would like to see a future where everyone can afford to eat good, healthy and sustainable food. We hold various cooking workshops and courses in our Lang Spoon Community Kitchen to help people improve their cooking skills, reduce food waste, and eat local, seasonal food. Community members come along every Wednesday for our Community Meals (takeaway to pick up a meal and eat at home at the moment.) Also, our Community Fridge and Lang Toun Larder redistribute short-dated food. We run ‘grow your own’ workshops teaching people to grow their own vegetables, fruit and herbs as well as three weekly volunteer sessions, and regular family-friendly events at our Community Training Garden at Ravenscraig Walled Garden.
4. How do you think the lockdown has affected your organisation and your role in the wider community?
In March 2020, like lots of organisations and businesses, Greener Kirkcaldy had to find new ways of working and running services as a result lockdown. The Community Food Team have a fantastic team of volunteers and we were able to quickly plan how we could continue to support our community access food in a dignified way.
Our Community Meals to Go Kirkcaldy Project enabled us to continue offering Community Meals to more people by making fresh, home-made food in our community kitchen, and delivering them to households directly (and via Kirkcaldy Foodbank). Our Community Chef Iain, having worked in hotels and restaurants, was able to come up with recipes for dishes that we could make in large numbers, and would arrive at people’s homes intact, and still appetising. We also spent some time working out safe systems for making and delivering food safely with volunteer input and physical distancing.
From March to September 2020 we achieved:
- 7,350 meals delivered to households and organisations in Kirkcaldy
- 3,050 meals delivered to Kirkcaldy Foodbank at Linton Lane and Viewforth Church Hall
- Meals to 91 individual households
We are now providing a takeaway service once a week and hope to get back to serving community meals in our building when Covid-19 restrictions relax again as people enjoyed coming to meet others before lockdown and are now feeling isolated. Our community pantry and fridge began again in August 2020 and this has been valuable to local families during Covid-19 who have been struggling financially or feeling alone during lockdown.
The community pantry & fridge at East Fergus Place
Our role changed slightly from being a food waste reduction (primarily environmental) project to a community support organisation for families. However, this has given us a chance to talk about sustainable food, eating locally and seasonally and has provided an opportunity to invite people to our cooking classes to improve their cooking skills (and learn about food waste and budgeting to some extent).
5. What steps need to be taken to improve people’s health?
We encourage people to eat healthily in our cooking classes and pantry and try as much as possible to obtain donations of fresh fruit, vegetables, pulses and grains for our community fridge, meals and pantry. We are part of Nourish Scotland and work with various partners in Fife who are looking at food insecurity, sustainability (Food4Fife) and healthy eating in order to make sure that people have access to good food.
6. You can pick one chef/person to come and work with you, who is it and why?
Jack Munroe, author of Tin Can Cook and other cook books because she would relate to a lot of our cooking class participants who are cooking on a budget and want to eat healthy, plant-based food.
Find out more about Greener Kirkcaldy's work at www.greenerkirkcaldy.org.uk