Christine’s Tomato Jam

14 Apr Christine’s Tomato Jam

This is a perfect project for Summer or Fairtrade Fortnight (Feb/March each year) plus it’s a great way to support Oxfam’s GROW campaign for a fairer world where everyone has enough to eat.

Tomato Jam: Inspired by a recipe our founder, Sarah Corbett, received from a lady in Kenya, this project involves making tomato jam, stitching a fabric lid cover with a message in support of Oxfam’s Grow campaign, and using it as a way to speak to people about the world’s unfair food system.


Founder of Craftivist Collective Sarah Corbett (right) and ‘Queen of Crafts’ author and Founder of Shoreditch Sisters Women’s Institute Jazz Domino Holly (left)

Craft is a time for reflection and so this project encourages you to make time in our busy lives to stop and think about how the way we grow and share our food doesn’t work. There’s more than enough food for everybody, but a billion of us don’t have enough to eat. That means one in seven of us goes to bed hungry, every night, no matter how hard we work. That’s not fair play but it doesn’t have to be this way.”

Get involved and sew messages on jam jar lids like “If we don’t change we don’t grow,” “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” There are lots to choose from. Or create your own personal message. It’s a chance to use your hobbies and talents to make a better world


The craftivism jam project was inspired by a Kenyan woman called Christine who gave Corbett the tomato jam recipe when Sarah was visiting Christian Aid partners and beneficiaries in 2006. She was part of a women’s cooperative in a semi-rural suburb just outside Nairobi, which had lost a generation to HIV AIDS. There were loads of isolated older women living on their own looking after orphaned children. They had lost their husbands or sisters, like Christine, or they were looking after orphaned grandchildren or taking in kids just wondering the streets they couldn’t really afford.

 A local charity (BIDDII supported by Christian Aid) encouraged these women to get to know each other and support each other. It was a big community boost, a proper support network. The women had all been doing these things separately to make ends meet but not they could share skills and be in solidarity with each other- Christine had her tomato jam, another woman tie-dyed clothes, another woman made soap. They shared all these clever tricks and others like growing  bananas in ditches to hold in water and how to work with tomatoes and pumpkins because they’re more drought resistant. They all supported each other by pooling their resources and bought uniforms to send the children to the local school. It was free, but you needed a uniform to get in.


Sarah met Christine for ten minutes and even though they used an interpreter, Sarah was moved by Christine’s story and passion to keep fighting for a better world.

“Christine was really funny and animated and really proud of what they were doing. She reminded me of a woman called Ann from my home town of Everton in Liverpool (the fourth most deprived area in the UK), who worked really hard in our community to make it better for little or no pay. She just wants to make it a better place to live and does everything from tackling anti-social behaviour by setting up playschemes to lobbying for better housing. I will never forget Christine. She is an amazing woman, but like Ann, Christine is probably still working really hard to help her community when they both should be retired.”

The craftivism project is supported by many crafts people as including author of Penguin book Queen of Crafts and daughter of The Clash drummer Joe Strummer, Jazz Domino Holly, who said:

“I like the idea of communal stitch-ins. When I founded Shoreditch Sisters back in 2007, it was about encouraging women to craft in an empowering way. It’s about being more creative in life in general. Craftivists believe we can change society stitch by stitch and I like that.”

The fabulous Brixton W.I support this project have held a Craftivist workshop on jam lid as well as  fellow W.I group the Shoreditch Sisters.  We’d also love it if more Women’s Institute groups around the U.K wanted to get involved and other groups around the world.

More Resources: 

  • Jam jar labels to download and print (2 for each jar)
  • Recipe and Project Info booklet front and back
  • Craft lids instructions front andback
  • Activity guideline and feedback form for attendees (to be collected in at the end)
  • Get your GROW leaflet and badges and Oxfam support from your local office found here

Christine’s Recipe: Make your own tomato jam with this simple recipe

Makes 6 half pints Ingredients:

  • 5 cups peeled and quartered tomatoes.
  • Strips of the tomato skin
  • 5 cups of sugar
  • 1 lemon, sliced thinly and seeded
  • 2 tablespoons butter

Method: Put tomatoes, sugar and sliced lemon in large, heavy pot and bring to slow boil over medium- high heat, stirring occasionally. When foam rises to surface, add butter and continue stirring and simmering until preserves thicken, about 45 minutes. (To test, stick a fork into preserves. When preserves cling to tines of fork, it should be thick enough to can). Pour preserves into sterilized jars, seal and process in hot water bath for 15 minutes.

So…  pick up your scissors, and start shaping the future of our world into a more sustainable, beautiful place for all with us? Craft alone or with friends, family, or even set up a public stitch-in and bring the discussion to passersby and at other events. Tag us @craftivists on InstagramTwitter and Pinterest or ‘Craftivist Collective’ on Facebook) so we can share your creations with others (unless you say otherwise) and we can all join the conversation. You can also do a guest blog for this website to share your crafter-thoughts and hopes like these craftivists have here in our series “My Craftivism”


We hope that you’re inspired by this project to do your own craft sessions, jam making sessions but most of all we hope you’re inspired to use your skills, passionates and talents to make our world a better place for all, especially the most vulnerable people in the world.

If you have found this project helpful please do $upport us to exist so we can continue to support you & other craftivists. We are a small struggling social enterprise with no external funding x

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