Foodival is Transition Town Tooting's annual food festival, celebrating everything that's good about locally grown food. Foodival aims to show how it's possible to grow local, eat local, be sustainable and have fun while doing it!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Goodness Graveney Me! A Top Tooting Cook.

Amrit with three of the judges Manisha, Kate and Chris

The Top Tooting Cook competition was fiercely fought out at Foodival last month. Twelve of Tooting's finest cultivators of cuisine produced some of the best presented dishes ever seen at TTC.  The judges tasted, deliberated, and after the dust had settled a new champion was crowned.

With the highest marks for taste, presentation and food miles, the Top Tooting Cook for 2014 is Amrit Sachar for her "Goodness Graveney Me" smoked aubergine starter. Well done to Amrit who won dinner for two at Meza. Runner up was a suspiciously dressed Sprout Lover with his beetroot & squash curry with Yasmin Salam in third place for her vegetable samosas.  Special commendation was given to Emily Boyce for her "Tooting Jam and Social" a trio of herb labneh balls, rosemary biscuits and tomato and chilli jam.

Check out the recipes for these winning dishes here.

Thanks to everyone involved in TTC this year and see you again in 2015.

Goodness Graveney Me!  "All I need is a smaaall aubergine!"

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Thanks for being a part of a wonderful Foodival!

We needed a couple of days to recover from and relish the festivities of the weekend - now, here is our Foodival wrap-up report!

The sun was shining for Tooting Foodival festival day and the Foodival banner knitted by Penny (a.k.a. the Phantom Knitter of Tooting) looked gorgeous against the blue sky.

Hundreds of you joined in the fun and we hit our goal of serving food to over 300 people. In fact, together, we served up over 600 portions from food grown locally and donated to Foodival during the BATCA Community Fun Day and Foodcycle the day before.  And over 60 people and organisations have told us what they're growing in Tooting - you're all now on the map! See the wonderful pictures from Saturday's donation points here and from Sunday below.

"I've never seen so many smiling faces as I did over Tooting Foodival weekend", said Tooting Foodival event director, Dave Mauger. "This is thanks to all those who planned and took part in the event. We would like to say a massive thank you to all the volunteers, fruit and veg growers, restaurants, performers, stallholders, guests and everyone who made the 2014 Tooting Foodival our biggest and most successful ever! What a fantastic way to celebrate the vast amount of local growers and wide variety of Tooting restaurants! See you in 2015!" 

Seven restaurants and twelve local cooks rustled up tasty dishes for the crowds.  The dishes were so tasty that we didn't get any pictures! (Next year, next year, we promise!).
Local residents Indrajit and Jaya brought in some very tasty curry with rice and lassi for the crowds as a surprise.  And Mark Watson came back to Foodival for a second run, brewing up his delicious herbal teas made with foraged plants from Tooting and Bungay.

Meanwhile, Top Tooting Cook judges Kate Allan, secretary of BATCA, Mr (Chris) Nappy Valley, Rick Gibbs of Rick’s Restaurant and Manisha Patel from Pooja had a tough time deciding which local cooks would win the coveted prize this year. Congratulations to Amrit Sachar who was crowned Top Tooting Cook for 2014 for her Goodness Graveney Me small aubergine canape using aubergine grown by her mum at home! She won a dinner for two at Meza with wine.

There was a second year of controversy in the Top Tooting Cook competition, as TTT's very own David Thorne took second prize for his mixed vegetable curry, made with home grown beetroot and squash.  And congratulations to Yasmin who won third prize for her mixed vegetable samosas and spicy coriander chutney.  All of her ingredients were picked up from Foodival on Saturday and she won a cookery lesson donated by last year's winner "What's for Dinner?"

The food wasn't the only feast laid on for visitors. A wealth of talented performers kept the crowds entertained all afternoon: singer/songwriters Dermot Jones, Jonathan Buckley and Vince Burke, talent-of-tomorrow London Young Voices children's choir, comic performer Sam Quinn and his unique tombola, amazing sleight of hand magician Marc Kerstein, Blues masters Slim Estrada Trio who put the South into south London, the utterly brilliant Randolph Matthews who blew the audience away with his entertaining blend of soulful jazz and ethnic beatbox, and finally local folk heroes, the Bara Bara Band.

Venture around the venue and there was plenty more fun to be had. Guests worked up an appetite learning how much energy it takes to power speakers and light bulbs by bike. It was a joy to see so many people sweating it out to play a three minute song.  From young kids who could hardly reach the peddles, to Sadiq Khan MP and a lady who remembers a similar contraption that powered her lights when she lived in Sri Lanka!

Over 60 people walked off their dinner with the premier of Tootingwalks - a new project developed by fanSHEN theatre who also performed the wonderfully entertaining play, the Apple Cart. The walks are available to download for free from fanSHEN’s website. We can't wait to be guided on a walk around Tooting!

Upstairs, guests enjoyed more tasty treats - honey from Streatham Cemetary, local chutneys from Hilary's preserves, and home-made cakes from China Jordan and Klevis Kola’s Chickpea Sisters. Many spent time pinning food on the world map, playing green living jenga and the human fruit machine with Carbon Collaborations, while others spent time decorating cakes and learning about vegetable ivory jewellery.

Twenty-eight people made leaves for SMArT's Tooting Future Tree to think about what people want to grow in Tooting. The leaves featured wishes for love, a rugby field and more sycamore trees among them. If that wasn’t enough, there was also plenty of opportunity to learn about healthy eating with Niamh's Nutrition, local energy with Furzedown Low Carbon Zone and growing projects with Transition Town Tooting.

David Thorne, co-chair of Transition Town Tooting gave his perspective on the weekend.
“We want to say thanks to everyone who donated produce to Foodival. We couldn't have done this without that locally grown food. It's amazing to see just how many people are growing in Tooting and the variety that's growing from dozens of chillies growing on windowsills to tomatoes, courgettes, chard, squash and cabbages. Our map of what’s growing in Tooting shows just how many people are growing and we really enjoyed taking the pictures of all the people who donated their locally grown produce on Saturday. It was great to have space for collections at the BATCA Funday and the Foodcycle lunch where many great connections were made!
Thanks also to the 30+ volunteers, who gave so many hours in the run up to and during the weekend. Foodival is totally run by volunteers and funded in part by the Wandsworth Eco Fund and the donations received on the day. We'll see you all next year!”

Thanks from the whole team at Transition Town Tooting. We can't wait for the eighth Foodival in 2015! We're keen to get your feedback on Foodival. Either pop a comment on the blog below, get in touch or fill in our survey here.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Foodival Day One

A great day collecting fruit and veg at Foodival. Hope to see you tomorrow at Samaj Hall.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Let's get harvesting, let's get cooking!

The seventh annual Tooting Foodival is nearly here. It's time to get harvesting!

Foodival exists to celebrate the wealth of produce you can grow in an urban environment like Tooting. Since June, people have been adding to the map to show all the wonderful fruit, veg, herbs and salads growing in the area. The variety is astounding - from the familiar - tomatoes, potatoes, beans, strawberries - to the more unusual - cola plants, green guages, loganberries and celeriac.

Bring your food on Saturday for Foodival!

Whether you have one tomato, a handful of salad leaves, or a veritable feast of fruit and veg, it's time to get harvesting for Foodival. The restaurants are eager to get creative and cook up a feast so everyone can celebrate on Sunday. 

Drop off your produce at two spots between 1pm and 5pm. Put yourself on the map that will be displayed on Sunday. and have some fun or a bite to eat while you deliver your goods. It's a win win!
  • BATCA Fun Day, Broadwater Road - drop off  your fruit and veg at the Foodival stall. Then enjoy the fun - stalls food and entertainment. Visit the Kingston Farm Animals, get a henna tattoo, try some local or international food, learn about growing your own food, laugh at the clown show, get your blood pressure checked or chill out with ice cream. 
  • Foodcycle Wandsworth, Mushkil Aasaan, 220-222 Upper Tooting Road - give some locally grown food for Foodival and enjoy a free meal cooked by local volunteers from food that supermarkets would otherwise throw away!

Sunday is Festival Day!

We're hopeful that Foodival day at Samaj Hall on Sunday will be a lot of fun and that you'll meet a lot of people. It's the day we celebrate the incredible talents of people in Tooting and together show what's possible in the city. Fingers crossed it'll be a record breaker so every apple, potato and tomato counts!

Do you want to cook for Foodival?

If growing isn't your thing but you love to cook, get in touch with Mal to enter the Top Tooting Cook competition. There are some great prizes to be won. The aim is to cook something tasty with low food miles. We can even supply you with some ingredients. 

Just pop into Mushkil Aasaan on Saturday between 4pm and 5pm, then come to Foodival on Sunday with your dish. Good luck!

We'll see you all at Foodival!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Hot gifts hidden in the streets of Tooting

Keep your eyes peeled around Tooting this week and you might just find an especially hot gift from the folks at SMArT.  Nestled on a windowsill, settled on steps and hidden around the BATCA Fun Day, will you spot an upcycled package inviting you to "Open Me"?

We're keeping the surprise under wraps for now. What we can say is if you're lucky enough to find these carefully crafted gifts, you can keep it to yourself, or take it along to Foodival on Sunday, where you'll receive another something special. Hmmm, intriguing!

Thanks to all the makers who joined in at the last two SMArT Meet & Make sessions and everyone who collected their Tetrapak cartons and donated hot home-grown produce.

Let us know if you find one of the mysterious packages and we'll see you at Foodival for more home-grown fun!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Phantom Knitter of Tooting is Knitting for Foodival

The final preparations are underway for Foodival with all kinds of making, harvesting and cooking planned this week.  Now, if you're wondering where Samaj Hall is, worry no more, our friend the Phantom Knitter of Tooting (a.k.a. Penny) has been working tirelessly the last few weeks knitting an amazing banner so you can find us this Sunday.  We took some time to find out more.

"Tooting says No to more betting shops"

Penny, how did you get the name, "The Phantom Knitter of Tooting"

The name “Phantom Knitter” was given to me by the local Guardian newspaper after I made a banner and placed it in the Broadway at night. This banner was started out of frustration with the increasing number of betting shops in the Tooting area. I had attended a local licensing hearing and it became very clear that planning changes meant that intended limitations from gambling deregulation could no longer be applied. The banner which said “Tooting says No to more betting shops” was my way of making the voice of objectors heard. It was made very quickly and in thick wool and is now very dirty and needs to be removed.

How have you made the Foodival banner?

I came up with a design quite quickly using images of fruit and veg as references. The banner has been completed in blocks. I have designed patterns for each block on Excel and provided my knitters with the acrylic yarn to complete a square. I have been assisted by knitters from Wandsworth U3A and from Earlsfield Townswomen’s Guild. I kept the centre part for myself. The big challenge was the stitching up. I worked some crochet around the edges to bring it all together.

It looks amazing. You're certainly an expert knitter. How did you get started and learn such great skills?

I started knitting at around the age of 6, taught by my grandmothers and my mother. I started with doll's clothes and remember making a brushed pixie hood for my sister for her first birthday. I made quite a few of my own sweaters, often receiving wool as Christmas and Birthday presents. In those days, there were wool shops in every village who would lay away wool so you could purchase a ball at a time but still have everything in the same dye lot.

We were a large family and by the time I was 11 I was making jumpers for my brothers, plain at first then becoming more complicated. I suppose I came from an era where it was considered wrong to just sit watching TV in the evenings so I would always have something on the go – usually knitting or needle point.

In the 90’s I got out of the knitting habit. I was working very long hours and it was easier to pick up a needlepoint (tapestry) project.

But in the mid noughties I began to knit again with renewed passion, finding it was good therapy to help deal with work stress and then depression. I began to devour knitting books and attend courses to refresh and extend my skills. I became involved with an online therapeutic knitting group “Stitchlinks”, and with “In the Loop” an academic knitting group based at the Knitting Library in Winchester. Lately I have also become a knitting history enthusiast and was delighted to give my first talk in July.

And now you help people young and old learn how to knit, is that right?

I started running a knitting afternoon at Broadwater Primary School about five years ago. I teach year 4 children in a lunch club, then am open to members of the local community in the school community room in the afternoon: mothers, aunts, friends and local residents irrespective of age or background. It has been a particular pleasure to help a few ladies who have been affected by strokes reconnect with former skills and to help those for whom English is a second language develop their confidence in conversation.

How can people get involved in the knitting groups you mention?

Those interested in finding out more about knitting can get in touch by emailing me at

So, this Sunday, as you walk up Tooting High Street, keep an eye out for the wonderful banner. Walk through and enjoy the fun! Thanks to Penny, Wandsworth U3A and Earlsfield Townswomen’s Guild for all your efforts. We can't wait to see it and meet you on the day!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Experience The Apple Cart show and the premiere of Tootingwalks

fanSHEN are a local professional theatre company who, through theatre, help people imagine what they haven’t thought of yet. Their work promotes ideas of environmental, social and financial sustain-agility and these ideas are embedded in their making process. 

fanSHEN will be doing two free shows in one day at the Tooting Foodival on Sunday 14 September.

Tootingwalks (midday)

At noon, you can experience the premiere of their new piece, Tootingwalks. Take a route map and an mp3 players on a half hour walk. While you walk, you'll hear Tooting stories, voices and music. The piece has taken over two months to create, working with and talking to a diverse range of groups and individuals from Tooting, ranging from Mushkil Aasaan to the South London Swimming Club, from Foodcycle to the Great Gustos, from the Tooting Community Garden to Sprout Arts, from Meet and Make to the Rhythm 'n' Babes toddlers music group. The walks have been compiled by playwrights Shireen Mula and Rachel Briscoe, with support from Dan Barnard and Chris Bone. 

The Apple Cart (2pm)

From 2pm onwards, fanSHEN will perform their irreverant, interactive family show The Apple Cart. Sisters Meryl, Beryl and Cheryl are on their way to Buckingham Palace with a cartload of magic apples for the Queen. Except somewhere between St Albans and Biggleswade, they took a wrong turning so now they’re here - in Tooting - with an unruly compendium of three-dimensional games which suggest that beneath their lavender-scented, rose-tinted exteriors, something peculiar is going on…

Accompanied by a pedal-powered soundtrack of the sisters’ favourite power ballads, The Apple Cart is an anarchically joyful mash-up of contemporary (sub)culture and traditional tales; for families, people who like to laugh and people who'd like things to be a bit different.

The Apple Cart has been touring nationally since May to fetes and festivals including Latitude and Green Man. It is performed by Dan Ford, Benedict Hopper, Shireen Mula and Sophie Steer. It was directed by Dan Barnard and Rachel Briscoe and designed by Chris Gylee and Cecile Tremolieres. It was developed in residence at the Dartington Space with the support of the Dartington Hall Trust, at Quarterhouse as part of The Shape of Things to Come and at Shoreditch Town Hall. The Apple Cart is supported by Applause and Home Live Art, OVNV Labs, Wandsworth Arts and the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

Transition Town Tooting co-founder Lucy Neal saw fanSHEN’s previous production GreenandPleasantLand and praised it for “incredible ideas structures embedded into a family show. An unlikely format for such content but it worked.”

Friday, September 5, 2014

Who else will you meet at Foodival?

Foodival this year brings you fabulous food from locally grown food cooked up by local restaurants. While you eat, you'll be entertained by a wonderful range of entertainers.  But that's not all!

Venture around the whole venue and you'll meet people from local business and community groups; you'll discover places to play games, do art and crafts and we hope you'll meet some great new friends from your neightbourhood.

So here's our little nod to the great range of stalls lined up already for the Foodival this year.
  • If all the lovely food at the Foodival is whetting your appetite for getting outside and growing your own, we have Transition Town Tooting and Transition Town Wandsworth talking about their community gardens.  
  • The Friends of Streatham Cemetery will have representatives of their community beekeeping project (there might even be some local honey to try).  
  • Meanwhile Niamh’s Nutrition stall can tell you all you need to know about eating healthily.
  • We’ve got some great local energy projects with the Furzedown Low Carbon Zone, and Community Renewable Energy Wandsworth both working to set up renewable energy generation projects in the area.
  • For the creative amongst you, the Sustainable Makers and Artists of Tooting (SMART) will have a stall with some hands on making activities... and if games are your thing you can have a go at giant low-carbon Jenga with Carbon Collaborations.
  • Some lovely local makers will be there – locally made chutneys from Hilary’s Preserves, home made cakes from China Jordan and vegetable ivory jewellery from Tahgwa.
  • You can find out more from our friends at fantastic local charity, Klevis Kola who support refugee and asylum-seeking families and helps them to play their full part in the community.  And the amazing Foodcycle Wandsworth will be around, so if you fancy cooking up a feast, find out how you can join in with them every weekend in Tooting on a Friday or Saturday.
We're still in need of a few volunteers to help on the day, so if you have an hour to spare, get in touch. And we can't wait to see all at Samaj Hall on Sunday 14 September from midday.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Top Tooting Cook Competition Recipe Ideas

Toss it, bake it, pickle it, fry it, make it the day or the week before, whatever you like as long as you use locally grown or locally produced ingredients.  
You could try...
Homemade Jams and chutneys
Pies and tarts
and casseroles
or a bit of home baking
Anything goes!
  • We can even provide you with the ingredients if you don’t have any local produce. 
  • Please email Malsara for ingredients or collect from Mushkil Aasaan 222 Upper Tooting Rd, London SW17 7EW on Saturday 13th September at 4pm.
  • All savoury dishes must be vegetarian. Meat, fish and eggs not allowed.
  • All dishes must be entered no later than 12.45pm on 14th September at Samaj Hall, 26b Tooting High Street.  
  • Please bring a copy of your recipe.
If you wish to enter please Click Here to let us know.
    ooh yes crunchy salads

And Good Luck Everyone!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Announcing the fantastic Tooting restaurants cooking for Foodival

Tooting’s restaurant and cafĂ© scene has really expanded and diversified in recent years. To reflect the plethora of world cuisine on our doorstep, the Tooting Foodival has seven fantastic yet completely different restaurants cooking delicious taster dishes this year.

Want to know who they are? Of course you do…

Al Mirage
A fantastic Pakistani family-run business who promote healthy eating in all their dishes. Their chef Sayeed always cooks up a storm and we look forward to seeing what delights he produces for us this year.

Now with two restaurants in Tooting, Hikmat and his team have quickly become a much-loved Tooting staple, serving excellent Lebanese food in a welcoming and friendly environment. They’ve also very kindly donated a meal for two as a Top Tooting Cook prize!

Mina’s Grill
After their huge popularity at last year’s Fresh & Refresh event, Mina’s have gone from strength to strength from their pitch at Tooting Market, selling delicious Portuguese food (including wonderful custard tarts).

Mis Bar Mleczny
Grzegorz and his team serve amazing (and huge) portions of Polish food from their Mitcham Road restaurant. Not sure what to order (as I didn’t on my first visit)? Their helpful staff will happily give you some excellent recommendations!

Pooja are Foodival regulars, and this year Manisha will be a judge for the Top Tooting Cook competition. Massively popular, they sell exceptional Indian sweets and savouries (try their samosas – you won’t be sorry).

Rick’s Restaurant
Rick’s been in Tooting serving up great modern British and European cuisine for many a year now, and always does us great dishes, even going so far as to provide a fish-filleting demonstration last year.  And he’ll also be a judge at this year’s Top Tooting Cook!

Fisher & Co
New to Foodival this year, the Fisher & Co coffee shop serves great coffee and treats.  The team will be using some of the plums and other fruit donated on Saturday to rustle up some of wonderful cakes.

Thanks to all this year’s restaurants for their contributions. Want to see (and more importantly, eat) what wonders they cook? Then get yourself along to Foodival on the 14th of September!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Two weeks to Foodival...announcing our talented entertainment line-up!

The perfect recipe for a fantastic festival is delicious food and cracking entertainment. And Tooting Foodival 2014 is happy to offer both!

With just over two weeks to go, we have finalised a line-up of brilliant, varied and possibly bonkers performers who will help create an amazing experience for you.

Main stage

  • On the main stage, starting off the proceedings, will be Dermot Jones performing some self-scrawled, lyrically vivid songs, plus a range of acoustic instrumental covers from Bowie to Scott Joplin.
  • He will be followed by comedian Sam Quinn with his new interactive act, The Emperor's New Tombola, where all the prizes are performed.
  • London Young Voices, Tooting’s local choir for children, will then take centre stage, entertaining the crowds with a variety of different music.
  • Next up, Vincent Burke, musician, singer and part-time vegetarian, returns to Foodival promising a series of songs unrelated to garden produce.
  • Then, hoping to recreate the Blues heartland of the Mississippi delta - in Tooting - will be Slim Estrada, joined on stage by Pablo X, on guitars, banjos and harmonica and Washboard Bob on backing vocals, congas and percussion.
  • Our penultimate performer on the main stage will be exciting vocalist Randolph Matthews with his unique blend of jazz, soul and ethnic beatbox. He promises to takes the audience on a magical journey, with edge-of-the-seat improvisation and clever technology to layer his voice.
  • And giving a stompin good finish to the day - and hopefully getting the crowds dancing - is Tooting’s own Bara Bara Band, a folk band playing a mix of their own songs, traditional British folk songs and American fiddle tunes.
But the action isn’t just taking place on the stage. Or even just in the venue! 

In and around Samaj Hall

  • Tootingwalks are two 30-minute audio walks created by local theatre company fanSHEN. Walkers will be given an mp3 player and a route map for a walk that will let them see Tooting through the eyes of others, hearing their memories, reflections, songs and dialogue about what makes Tooting unique.
  • Meanwhile, professional close-up magician, Marc Kerstein, will be amazing people around the main hall and in the queues for food with his brilliant sleight of hand tricks. Just don’t let him make your grub disappear!
  • And watch out for the unruly theatrical show, The Apple Cart, also by fanSHEN. Sisters Meryl, Beryl and Cheryl will guide you through a series of playful interactive performances, accompanied by a pedal-powered soundtrack of the sisters’ favourite power ballads.
We promised you brilliant, varied and possibly bonkers – I think we’ve kept out word!

See you at Foodival 2014.
  • Donate your locally grown food on the afternoon of Saturday 13 September at the BATCA Fun Day on Broadwater Road or at Mushkil Aasaan on Upper Tooting Road.
  • Celebrate local growing and eating as a community on the festival day from noon on Sunday 14 September at Samaj Hall, 26b Tooting High Street (by Broadway Studios) SW17 0RG.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Manisha, Pooja & Foodival

A scene from Foodival 2009
The tastiest samosas in town are surely found about halfway between the two Tooting tubes on the Upper Tooting Road, where Pooja Sweets & Savouries has been serving tasty vegetarian food to the people of Tooting since 1996. With over 100 different varieties of both sweets and savouries, a serious dedication to freshness and flavour and a focus on delivering a personal service of high quality, Pooja has become a Tooting institution. 

Pooja samosas have been eaten in large numbers at TTT gatherings over the years while Pooja owner Mrs Salim and her team have kindly taken on the Foodival challenge to produce dishes from home grown, donated produce every year since 2009, always coming up with something fresh and tasty.  "We also learnt from you" says Mrs Salim, "we had never made anything with chard or leeks before!"

"The four pillars of Pooja"
This year we are delighted to say that Pooja's Manisha has agreed to be a judge in the Top Tooting Cook competition at Foodival. Manisha is described by Mrs Salim as “one of the four pillars of Pooja” (she is on the far right in the picture) and she confesses that she is a cooking perfectionist, a strict quality controller who tastes every item produced at Pooja to ensure it’s as fresh and delicious as it can possibly be.  So beware all TTC contestants, the bar is set high!

How to find out more?
  • See Manisha's Judge's profile here
  • If you think you could impress Manisha with your culinary skills, why not enter the Top Tooting Cook competition? Please email Malsara for details.
  • To get involved in Foodival in any way please email Dave.
  • Or if you just want to eat near zero food mile locally cooked vegetarian dishes for free just come along to Foodival at Samaj Hall on 14th September.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Lessons learnt in damson picking

by Richard Couldrey

A week ago, my two sons Dominic and Benji and I went damson picking at a wonderful house on Longley Road in Tooting (thank you!). We went on behalf of the Foodival. I thought it was brilliant, Dominic thought it was a bit boring. The best bit was collecting the damsons!

There were four trees, all moderately sized, but covered in fruits. We set a tarp down on the ground and those brave enough went under. Then, to the sounds of Peter Gabriel's "Shaking the Tree"... we shook! Damson rain fell, thudded and surprised those underneath. The great thing was only the ripe damsons fell off, leaving plenty more for collection another day.

HOWEVER... on return home, all kinds of kids activities beckoned and the three carrier bags of damsons were put in the coolest cupboard I could find (fridge full, stinking hot day) for processing the next day.

The next day came, and I completely forgot about the damsons... meaning that they started breaking down in the bags, the ones at the bottom squashed by those on top. I've ended up with 2 large tupperwares - about 1/3 of the original haul, through a combination of ignorance and forgetfulness.

So, if you're going fruit picking, here's the lessons learnt:
  • When picking, take a tarp and shake that tree!
  • Only pick the firm fallers, anything soft will break down quickly and rot the other fruits
  • Carry the damsons in small quantities. Don't load too many on top of each other as they get squashed and, you guessed it, start to break down
  • Be prepared to immediately process them at home, which involves giving them a good wash (I used the bath) and freezing them with the pips in, or de-pip and freeze to be more space efficient.
Alternatively - go ahead and make your pies!

If you have an abundance of fruit, you can of course donate some to Foodival by dropping off produce on Saturday 13th September during the BATCA Fun Day or at Mushkil Aasaan between pm and 5pm.  Then come back on Sunday 14th September to Samaj Hall from midday to sample some of what's been made, while the wonderful fanSHEN Theatre entertain you with a great performance of The Apple Cart (more on that next week!)

Or check out Abundance Wimbledon, who help to pick fruit and deliver it to people and organisations who can use it.  Their site has some great recipes and they're having a Fruit Day the week after Foodival!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

10 Metre Food Mile Veg Curry Hits Spot

I am lucky, I made a postage stamp vegetable patch in my garden where I can grow stuff.  Tonight I thought I'd try to make a meal just using vegetables I had grown myself and am very happy with the results! Onions planted last autumn, rocket from a plant I have kept growing for about 5 years, borlotti beans, cabbage, cucumber & squash grown from seeds all planted in the spring plus tiny potatoes from a mouldy potato I buried!
Home grown healthy veg
It's going to be a vegetable curry.  OK I didn't grow the rice or the curry powder, turmeric & chilli flakes but otherwise this dinner is measured in food centimetres rather than miles. It travelled 10 metres maximum to the plate! It's a sustainable, home grown, low carbon dinner for two (yes I have an "amour" to share it with). If I have some of these veggies over I must take them to Foodival next month. Which begs the time honoured questions:  
What are you growing for Foodival?
Can you add it to the map?
Could I (or you) be a Top Tooting Cook?
Tasty 10 metre food mile vegetable curry!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Meet & Make for Foodival

SMART (Sustainble Making and Arts Tooting) are planning something HOT for Foodival this year and they need your help.

Join SMART Meet and Make at Sprout Arts on Moyser Road on 13th August from 6.30pm – 8.30pm to help make something wonderful for Foodival.  Anyone can join in - no crafty experience required!

This session will focus on sustainable making and in the spirit of Foodival, we'll be using juice and food cartons. Any cartons can be used - juice, milk or smaller school pack size drinks cartons. What's made in the session will be used before and during Foodival on 14 September at Samaj Hall.

If you would like to donate your rinsed out empty cartons, bring them along to any Transition Town Tooting project or meeting, or to the Meet and Make on 13th August.  Or get in touch with to arrange a pick up.

SMART’s Meet and Make sessions happen monthly and are a chance for you to meet a few people and try out some crafts, so if you're interested in making, keep an eye on the SMART blog. We’ll be revealing the making project to those that don't go along to the session in the coming weeks!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Save the date and join in with this year's Foodival

13th & 14th September 2014

Food donations from 1pm Saturday 13th September 
at Mushkil Aasaan on Upper Tooting Road 
or at the BATCA Fun Day on Broadwater Road, Tooting

Foodival celebration from 12noon - 5pm Sunday 14th September
26b Tooting High Street (by Broadway Studios) SW17 0RG

What's happening at Foodival this year?

Now in its seventh year, we want you to help break the record set last year of feeding over 300 people in one day, using locally grown food, cooked by local people.

Foodival takes place 13th and 14th September. We're aiming to explore and celebrate the range of food that can be grown in the city and the diverse cultures found in Tooting, giving local people a chance to meet, learn from each other and have some fun.

“Last year’s Foodival was a huge success. We want to build on that, so we’re inviting everyone from Tooting and the surrounding area to get involved - be it growing, cooking or simply coming together on the day to celebrate tasty local dishes with very few food miles. We’re always amazed by the amount of produce that people are growing in even the smallest space. People have been adding some wonderful pictures to our map to show what's growing in Tooting” says Dave Mauger, Foodival’s event director.

Strawberries, tomatoes, herbs and more growing on a balcony near Greyhound Lane
A chilli rainforest on Moring Road
Cucumber on Chillerton Road

A Festival across two days and three locations

From 1pm on Saturday, 13th September, anyone can drop off food they’ve grown at Mushkil Aasaan on Upper Tooting Road or at the BATCA Fun Day on Broadwater Road, Tooting. This will then be distributed to local cooks, signed up to the Top Tooting Cook competition and local restaurants to be transformed into delicious dishes overnight. 

On Sunday, 14th September, from 12noon - 5pm at Samaj Hall, everyone is invited to Foodival 2014 to celebrate Tooting’s diverse culture together over food grown and cooked by the community. Local restaurants will be serving up taster dishes throughout the day, and the winner of the Top Tooting Cook competition will be announced.  There will be plenty to entertain people, young and old - cooking demonstrations, music, theatre, stalls and games - all with a sustainable local slant.

Join in the fun!

Transition Town Tooting are asking people to get involved in a number of ways:
  • If you like cooking, sign up to enter the Top Tooting Cook competition - the aim is to create a tasty dish with really low food miles, using either your own grown food or produce donated from the gardens of Tooting.  There will be some fabulous local prizes to be won. 
  • If you like eating, come along to Samaj Hall on Sunday 14th September from 11am and join in the fun of Tooting Foodival 2014. You could just make it a record breaker!
  • If you want to get involved as a volunteer, or you would like a stall or you're a restaurant or chef who'd like to cook, please contact us at 
More details will be announced on this blog over the coming weeks. It's only 8 weeks away! Stay tuned to find out which restaurants and entertainers will be involved.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

What's growing in Tooting?

Last year, people from all across Tooting donated food for Foodival. It was wonderful to see the variety of food grown and meet all the people who grow in their allotments, gardens, back yards and balconies.

This year, we're asking, "What are you growing for Foodival?" and we're inviting you to add it to this map. We want to show everyone just how much is being grown in Tooting and celebrate every grower and growing space, no matter how big or small.

So, whatever you're growing - indoors or outdoors - be it chillies on your windowsill, rosemary in a pot, or runner beans in an allotment - go to the map and add a red marker to where you are. Then simply add what you're growing in the marker title.

If you're a community growing project or a school, shop or office that's growing food, add a green marker and tell us a bit about who you are.

Together, we can show just how many people are growing food in Tooting!

Take a look and add to the map.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Top Tooting Cook 2014

This year's Foodival will again include a Top Tooting Cook Competition on Sunday 14th September at Samaj Hall, Broadway Studios, Tooting High Street. Enter now to ensure your place in the starting line-up

At her press conference earlier today, Top Tooting Cook 2013 winner “What’s for Dinner” (WfD) announced that she will not be defending her title this year. We caught up with her to talk about TTC14.

TTT: Hi, so you've chosen not to defend your title in 2014.
WfD: Well yes after the fiasco of what happened last year, I have decided to take time out. I'd prefer to watch.
TTT: So last year you organised the competition ... 
WfD: Yes ...
TTT: And also won it? 

WfD: Yes. I did nothing wrong though; but the bribery and corruption scandal afterwards was very upsetting. I just didn’t think I was going to win with a salad, and when I did, well, I was shocked and horrified. So embarrassing. I am still suffering post traumatic stress from that.
TTT: I am sorry to hear that. Aside from winning did you enjoy taking part in the Top Tooting Cook competition?
WfD: Yeah, it was great. I don’t get out much, what with me agrophobia, but this gave me an opportunity to meet loads of local people, swap ideas and recipes and take part in something that was fun. I loved it. I’d do it again, but, no I won’t cos it won’t be fair on all the other cooks out there.
Well there you have it. Meet local foodies, learn something new and have fun. All are welcome to join in and take part in this great event - the best dishes will win some fantastic prizes. It is totally free and with over a dozen contenders already signed up to take part, this year looks set to be even more competitive than last.

For further information or to enter email

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Foodival 2014

We are happy to announce that this year's Foodival will take place over the weekend of the 13th and 14th September 2014.  It will be the 7th outing for this annual celebration of local food and we hope it will be bigger and better than ever. 
How are your seedlings getting along?
As usual we are encouraging local people to grow something for Foodival which can then be cooked by local cooks or restaurants to produce truly local dishes with barely any carbon burning food miles!

The full line-up of events and entertainment will evolve and be publicised on this site over the coming months but be sure to put the 13th-14th September in your diary.  If you would like to get involved as a grower, a cook, an entertainer, or help run the event please contact us at