There has been a lot going on for Manchester Veg People over the past few weeks.
Our main partnership is with the University of Manchester’s ‘Food on Campus’ catering wing and we are now supplying veg, which is being served in all the Food on Campus café’s! We’re lucky to be working with some great people at the Uni who really believe in what we want to do and this makes working together an exciting and unique cooperative effort. We launched on the 20th September, marching up and down Oxford Rd, many of us dressed as vegetables, handing out sticks of celery to passers-by and generally celebrating local food being served to students and staff of the University. Local food is now on their radar and thanks to the Uni’s dedication to local food sourcing, the diet of the student is about to improve dramatically as well as the Uni paying money into the pockets of local farmers. Great!
Manchester Food and Drink Festival proved to be an exciting one for Veg People too. As a MFDF event we took some chefs and a café owner out to meet the growers, first to Moss Brook, then to Dunham Massey and from there to Glebelands and then back to Albert Square to watch Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall cook with MVP veg and also give us a good plug. Hugh was great and keen to help and he also got to sample Manchester-grown food. Through taking people out to meet the growers this we realised the power of having buyer and grower meet - in the field. To actually see where your veg is grown brings the human side back into focus. Big thanks to Phil and Siobhan for making this happen for us. We’re now only one step away from feeding Nobel prize winners at a John Rylands library event. No! Hold on, we’ve done that as well! Martin Smith, chief executive chef at Manchester Uni used MVP veg to cook for 2 Nobel prize winners at a recent event and the feedback was excellent.
Enough of this name dropping and back slapping, though. It does seem like we are hitting a vein of good opportunities with MVP at the moment and that says a lot about what’s appearing on peoples’ radar when it comes to local food. The University of Manchester is doing some serious trendsetting by working with us and will help us prove that growing and selling veg doesn’t have to be on a massive, monocultural scale for it to work. The aim is to get small growers making a living wage and selling all of their produce within 20 miles (or in some cases, 5 miles) of their farm and for the growers and buyers to commit to help each other out. Rebuilding the trust between the grower and the buyer and re-establishing a human face to veg trading makes everyone feel better. Actually knowing your supplier, being able to tell them to their face that their produce is top notch and having the input into what’s grown, all those things together will make a strong and lasting partnership.