London Craftivists get jamming for food justice

18 Aug London Craftivists get jamming for food justice

Written by Lara Smallman, a Global Poverty Project Ambassador and Craftivism convert

My first taste of craftivism was last month at the stitch-in at Spitalfields City Farm. Yesterday I was back for a second helping, this time at Craftivist Collective Founder, Sarah Corbett’s South London flat.

Five of us gathered with the jam jar covers we had sewn. Mine read, ‘If we don’t change, we don’t grow’, bright green thread running through a red and white check pattern. Another, ‘be the change you wish to see in the world…. (please!)’, swirled around a vintage floral pattern.

With our covers at the ready, step two was to make a batch of Christine’s delicious tomato jam. We huddled around the kitchen table and set about creating our own production line – sterilising jars, scoring tomatoes, immersing them in hot water, next step – peeling, and then cooking them with sugar and lemons – all the while sipping tea and munching on homemade coffee cake.

I was very curious about Craftivism – I wondered what happens when two seemingly opposite worlds collide? How would the slow pace of craft fare when fused with Activism?

In short, amazingly well, I’d say. The jam making was very relaxed, and gave us a chance to reflect and share ideas and stories with each other. While the jam bubbled away for a good three quarters of an hour, we took to the sofas to enjoy some crumpets with ‘here’s some I made earlier’ jam. We got chatting about food production, and the colossal levels of food waste, not just by consumers, but also by manufacturers. We thought about ways we could make a difference. Soon, conversation moved towards what to do with our beautiful creations. Tempting, as it is to hold on to the delicious jam, the idea is to give the finished product to someone else, inviting them to get more involved, perhaps an MP/employer/neighbour/friend, the choice is yours.

Thank you Sarah for a truly inspirational Sunday afternoon. I had so much fun making something, which will make a difference, and making new friends.

I have decided to give mine to Tristram Stuart, environmental campaigner and author of the book ‘Waste’. He has opened my eyes to the extent of the food waste, the impact it’s having, and to the fact that if we work together, we can solve it.

– Thanks to Lara for taking the time to write this blog post and for being so interested in the potential of Craftivism as a tool for change 🙂

Who will you give your jam to?

We suggest giving your jam and hand stitched lid to your local MP, while talking to them about ways in which the broken global food system can be improved – like fairer prices for producers, more locally sourced produce and less food waste from shops and businesses. Each batch makes about 6 jars though, so you can spread the word, and the jam, even further.

This jam session was made up of an eclectic mix of individuals keen on using Craftivism as an outlet for change, who are giving their completed jams to a host of different people.

Tilly, from craft blog Tilly and the Buttons is giving her jam to her boyfriend who wants to learn more about how to engage with politics so she wants to open his eyes into the power of Craftivism and not just typical activism and lobbying.

Chloe, co founder of The Merry Bobbins craft workshops, is going to give her jam to a local shop keeper to thank him for selling locally sourced fruit, veg and meat and see if he can offer his left overs to people to use for chutneys etc.

Hannah Kochmann a regular craftivist and core member who designed our jam zines and instruction leaflets is going to give her jam to her MP.

Craftivist Collective founder Sarah C is also planning on giving one of her jams to her local MP in the run up to World Food Day on 16th October.  She plans to give another jar to her local Cooperative food shop manager. They are a great company but not always very good at disposing of their waste or recyling so she’s going to ask the manager to feed that up and keep me in the loop with any improvements and how she can keep pushing for them to change their practices.

Want to get involved? Now’s the time as tomatoes are at their most ripe!

If you would like to get involved in your very own craftivist tomato jam project in support of Oxfam’s GROW campaign, then you can find all the resources and instructions you need to hold your own stitch in here, including Christine’s delicious recipe.

If you need any more help, get in touch with us at or your local Oxfam office for help in contacting your nearest MP.

– We’d also like to thank Mhairi, who was taking photos and filming for a Dazed and Confused competition.  Good Luck Mhairi, we’ve got our fingers crossed for you!

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