Foodhall as a public space.
The Foodhall project was developed after discovering that there was a lack of Open public spaces for sharing food in our society. Spaces that are not commercially focussed with an emphasis on citizenship rather than financial consumerism. We found so many examples of these spaces throughout human history, yet so little exist today. We decided to create a large Foodhall in the city centre for people to come together, share culture and support one another with the domestic act of cooking and sharing. The problems of food waste and social isolation are implicitly linked; these can be traced back to a lack of infrastructure for communal dining and food sharing.
The entire community galvanised around this common cause, each putting a portion of their time, resources and skills together to open a new public facility turning an old abandoned morgue in Eyre into a bustling community centre full of life! We open 3-5 days a week from 10-3 on an entirely voluntary, community driven basis. Within the public meals and community dining we created an ecosystem of skills and activities and have generated facilities to support them, often hosting over 3 events a week alongside our daytime activities. We have our public workshop facilities, a digital fabrication facility, pottery workshop and co-working space and more which all compliment the meals. Individuals involved benefit from the new connections forged, reduced levels of isolation, and mutual bonding, bringing people together and feeding people whilst the peer to peer nurturing of talent occurs.
Perhaps the most notable feature of food hall was that for a large part of it’s development it was not funded. It emerged because the community believed that there was a need and acted on it, bringing together their resources to form something amazing from nothing. In the daytime, we operate on a strict donation, pay as you feel, system and we are supported by a community who make events to cross-subsidise the core activity. (If you want to make an event please get in touch) To maintain the spirit of equality and 100% of all profits go back into the organisation to undertake the thing we offer. In that sense, we are almost a hard line charity. Our decisive line approach has not gone completely un-noticed , We recently won Sheffield’s design awards People’s choice by a landslide, despite being poised against some multi-million-pound behemoth projects (this entertained us eternally). We also won a high commendation RIBA Macewan award for architecture for social good. Please see information here:
We are registered as a community interest company with the primary responsibility belonging to it’s three directors. Despite being directors we have opted to have an open co-operative and distributed management structure, this allows members of the community to take control and contribute to their own place and mobilise their personal part of the organisation as-well as react to diverse feedback.
Our lineage in Sheffield can be seen as a modern reinterpretation of the historic Scotland street commonwealth café ran by Edward carpenter in the late 1800’s in kelham island.
We take a lot of inspiration from the Indian Ashram system/gudwara’s and the darma to give free food. This creates a public welfare of donation based food which does not have a western equivalent . We also only serve vegetarian food.
We are accredited as part of the Real junk food project network and this means we follow the principals of reclaiming food that may have otherwise been thrown away to lower food waste. However we are more concerned with the aspects of public space so we maintain our own identity rather than using the rjfp banner.