East End jam

East End jam was inspired by an unexpectedly fruitful walk around Stratford (east London) in July 2014. On the ordinary light industrial and residential streets of the city I found plums, elderberries, sloes, apples and blackberries in abundance. I picked these and made a range of jams, then led a walk entitled ‘Stratford Jam’ showing people where the fruit trees and bushes could be found, and gave them the jams to eat.

From that starting point the project has developed, with support from the London Legacy Development Corporation, and in 2015 I led a participatory walk and jam making workshop which fed in to the ‘Harvest Stomp‘ a celebration of local food growing at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park on Saturday 19th September 2015. The new title ‘East End Jam’ reflects the project’s wider geographical focus.

Since then the project has grown further – each season working with a larger group of people – walking, foraging and preserving together before sharing the fruits of our labour in public feasts of jam. In 2017 I worked with a primary school in Hackney, adults in sheltered accommodation in Stratford, and cookery school pupils in West Ham.

There are many precedents for this type of art-food-walking work, here are some that I know about:

Fallen Fruit (USA)

Norma D Hunter’s Bite on the Side

Stalker (Italy) Public Oil and Nomadic AgroCulture projects

Ceri Buck’s Invisible Food

Melissa Bliss’s Nomad’s cafe

BASH’s Wild Food Walks