Being a PACT Meals volunteer: A behind the scenes view from a new recruit

On Friday 8th March local volunteers helped create the second PACT Meal, taking surplus food and making a beautiful community feast. Rob Ganly (aka @finsbury_pk), a local resident and first-time PACT volunteer, tells us about his experience.


"I first heard about the PACT Meals project on March 7th, in a tweet that I saw from @manorhousepact.

After reading about the meal and the idea behind it (on the website) I decided that I really liked the concept of meeting some new people and cooking with surplus food that would otherwise go to waste with them. Saving the planet by eating a free meal- what's not to like!? Seeing that it was the next day and I wasn't working, I decided to check it out.

Walking across the park the next day, in the cold and rain with my hood up, I started wondering if it was a good idea, i.e. would anyone even turn up or would it be cancelled due to the bad weather? It turned out that it was a good idea!

I don't normally venture over to this side of the park, as I live on the Stroud Green side, and was surprised when I realised that there was a whole garden-centre type place that I'd never really noticed before, complete with a huge green house/building. It's called Edible Landscapes London.

After reading the signs at the entrance to the area saying 'logs for sale', 'plants for sale' and 'free compost' I walked in and turned right, towards the greenhouse.

I was met by a friendly smile from one of the PACT workers, Paula, who proceeded to invite me inside where I was greeted by a large table laden with fresh, colorful vegetables and a number of people chopping, peeling, sorting and generally looking busy.

I was introduced to the folk preparing food and immediately felt at ease and part of the team, the combined effort and goal seemingly having the effect of a kind of social catalyst and within a few minutes I felt like I was working with familiar friends that I'd known for a while!

There were a number of dishes being prepared- a Polish pickled cabbage type dish, banana fritters, swede and potato mash, an apple stew and a vegetable stir fry, which I was in charge of.

Finally the meal was ready and we all sat down to eat. Beforehand Paula stood at the end of the table, in her shiny stripy apron, and reminded us of what the project was about and thanked us all for helping and also praised the local shops on Green Lanes/Blackstock Road who had donated the food that day.

The atmosphere was lovely, with people laughing and joking and telling stories- generally just having a lovely time together. The food was also absolutely delicious (perhaps the fact that I knew it was for a good cause made it taste even better than it normally would have!).

There were a few folk who just turned up to eat, some quiet, some more outgoing, but there was a really good atmosphere and everyone seemed to have their place and be part of the 'team'.

By now the rain was beating down hard on the roof of the greenhouse, adding to the cosy feeling of being inside. As someone next to me laughed with another, and I enjoyed the delicious taste of a jamaican-style banana fritter for the first time, I thought to myself 'this is pretty special, I will definitely be back!'."


Look out for more on upcoming meals- we’re always looking for people to join us for both cooking and eating.

To find out more contact Jo Homan: 07733 330379 or


Tags: Edible, Landscapes, London, Meals, PACT, view, volunteer

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