A community program to prepare nutritious hot meals for people is launched in Harborough

Alison Shakeshaft and Clare Skilling of Two Old Goats. Photo by Nick Osborne.

An innovative community program to prepare nutritious hot meals for people is launching in Market Harborough on Saturday April 16.

The pioneering project will start at the EcoVillage on Sat Mary’s Road.

The groundbreaking initiative will include meals made from Leicestershire-grown white beans – and is the first of its kind in the country.

It is about to come to fruition after Beth Lambert, co-founder of the EcoVillage, met with Graham Willett, of Community Supported Agriculture at Stanford Hall in Lutterworth.

They embarked on a year-long mission to grow and harvest navy beans at the Stanford Hall community farm.

The Two Old Goats, whose cafe is based at the EcoVillage, will now use the beans to create a range of meals to feed the local population.

Beth said: “We know times are very difficult for many people in the community right now and we also know that the issues around climate change are not going away.

“The EcoVillage is really excited to be involved in this project from many different angles,” she said.

“So it’s fantastic for us to put together something that has a positive impact on the environment and supports those in need in the community.”

The bold plan involved working with many sustainability-focused companies, projects and programs.

They include the Jubilee Foodbank in Market Harborough and the Mistry Kitchen, also based in the EcoVillage, as well as primary schools.

The scheme is also supported by grants from Leicestershire County Council’s Sustainable Food Partnership and the Co-operative.

“Taking a sustainable approach to food production and supporting regenerative farming methods right here in Leicestershire is at the heart of this project,” Beth said.

“We had pupils from Market Harborough C of E Primary School who helped us with sowing, harvesting and even threshing the beans in preparation for the meal!”

Alison Shakeshaft and Clare Skilling of Two Old Goats will now create “exciting dishes” every Wednesday at the EcoVillage, paid for in advance by other customers.

Co-founder Clare said, “We believe in nutritious food for all.

“So we’re really excited to share The Bean Project with our own local community.

“Serving beautiful and nutritious foods to support the good health of people who may be struggling during these very difficult times will be extremely rewarding.”

Beth Awdry, who helped found the EcoVillage alongside her colleague Beth, said: “It’s really easy to gift a delicious dinner to someone there.

“Grant funding has subsidized these meals so we can offer an individual Pay It Forward meal for £3.50 – and alternatively £10 will feed a family of four.”

Beth Lambert added: “We are thrilled to have convinced the Two Old Goats to be part of this project and we look forward to seeing the project come full circle with people enjoying hot, nutritious, locally grown dinners.

“We hope the community will support the project and spread the word – either by donating Pay It Forward meals or by sharing the program with those who could benefit.”