Lewisham Unitarians Jam Weekend! 28/29th September 2019

As September came to an end, East End Jam was honoured to be invited to carry out a workshop at the Lewisham Unitarian meeting house. This event brought together foraging, jam making, belief, music and unity as we collectively constructed a creative space. This space was spread over the meeting house, creating pockets of activity throughout. The kitchen was used to boil one pot of jam, an outdoor stove located in the garden was used to boil another. An outdoor yurt was used to prepare the fruit and for other general social activities. These separate spaces allowed people to drift from one to another, never remaining static. Additionally, the garden was carefully tended to, producing an abundance of edibles which we had access to in addition to the fruitful surrounding areas.

From the garden we foraged tomatoes and apples and from the surrounding areas we foraged rowan, mahonia berries and quince. On top of these delicious treats, a member of the Unitarian meeting house had pre-foraged and frozen some blackberries! We also had access to some shop brought spices. We decided to create a blackberry jam, an apple and rowan jelly and an apple, mahonia, tomato, cinnamon, cardamon and chilli chutney! I was interested to observe that, whereas in other workshops the foraging tended to be the preferred activity, here it was not. The focus of peoples enjoyment for this workshop seemed to come from the preparation of the fruits.

As mentioned this was done in the yurt, this space generated a very different type of workshop, one which almost became meditative. We sat around a large table, carefully washing, peeling, stoning and chopping our fruits. A short while into this process, one individual produced a singing bowl and began playing. After a few sounds had been played, she invited us to hum any note that came to us. One by one we each produced a sound which gradually became a chorus of harmonies. Each person carefully listened to the sounds around them before joining in, creating a beautiful sound. This activity created a sense of unity as we had to have an awareness of our surroundings, an awareness of the sounds of others and an awareness of our own bodies and the sounds it produces.

This communal singing alongside the sorting of the fruits created a vastly different experience to our other jam workshops. Personally, I felt this experience heightened my awareness of the jam making activities, allowing me to really focus on the fruits; how they felt, smelt and tasted! This beautiful experience was followed by more singing, a key component to this workshop. This experience was really eye opening, allowing me to view jam making as more than a simple activity but something which combines our knowledge of the local environment, our knowledge of food preparation and cooking, and our ability to work together towards a common goal.

I want to take this opportunity to thank all of the members of the Unitarian meeting house and the larger community of Lewisham for welcoming us into your community and allowing us to share your local knowledge!