Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Big Lunch Brum

The Big Lunch is an initiative started by the Eden Project in 2009 to encourage people across the UK to come together for a few hours of food, friendship and fun. It aims to create stronger, friendlier communities where people start to share things, from conversation and ideas to skills and resources. Last year a staggering 8.5 million people participated in Big Lunches across the UK.

As Birmingham is striving to be a leading green city, we thought we would take the opportunity to highlight this national initiative promoting a stronger friendlier community being both a sustainable and low carbon also. Why not have a vision for a Green City that involves all its green entrepreneurs and practitioners in the community coming together to create a green village?

What activities are taking place?

The Big Green Lunch upholds eco-friendly ideas, embraces the arts and celebrates efforts to encourage more sustainable lifestyles. There will be music, dancing and entertainment on a biodiesel stage and family friendly activities that will create a fun, green festival environment.

The Big Lunch obviously emphasises sustainable food that’s locally grown, locally purchased and food that is healthy as well as fairly traded. A selection of Birmingham’s rich diversity of food will be on show through local food suppliers and caterers that include Caribbean, Indian, Italian and Vegetarian chefs who will be cooking their food for people to purchase. The Love Food Hate Waste campaign will be showing people how to shop, store and prepare food more effectively to save money and waste. The Smoothie Bike will also be encouraging more exercise and the drinking of healthy, self prepared fruit juice.

Attractions include Bollywood dancing workshops and henna tattoos as well as zero carbon activities for kids like trampoline/ bungee jumping. There will be circus workshops offering the chance to ride a unicycle, walk on stilts and juggle a Chinese diabolo. Children can also take part in workshops with the ‘Scrap Store’ play workers, play giant lawn games and visit the mini petting farm which will include pygmy goats, sheep, pigs, poultry, rabbits, a miniature horse and an alpaca.

All ages can have a go at riding on a penny farthing or learn how to fix a bicycle. The city’s acclaimed Fairtrade and Ethical Market will be there with it’s ever increasing range of fair-trade, recycled, ethical and eco-suppliers including members of Birmingham’s Fairtrade Association.

Who is attending?

We expect a lot of people connected with the green agenda in Birmingham will be attending along with other interested parties as well as the plain curious.

The Venue:

The Botanical Gardens is a tried and tested venue which attracted around 1,200 people to the Sustainability Spring Fair back in March. Everyone we spoke to thought the venue was perfect and it provided a perfect backdrop to a sustainability event. The Botanical Gardens is a great day out in its own right with wonderful displays of plants and landscaped gardens, but it is a facility under used by the public. Maybe this is because of cost, but the offer of a free visit seemed a very popular incentive to entice visitors to our last event.

We did an evaluation exercise of the Sustainability Fair earlier this year.  Everyone rated the event and the venue as ‘good’ or ‘excellent’. We asked the question - “What did you learn about sustainable living today?” Some of the responses included: composting toilets (50 yrs); there is a lot going on I never knew about (65 yrs); everyone should have a bike blender in their house it would encourage you to keep fit and eat healthily (15yrs); I learned what to do with grapes when they are going mouldy rather than throw them away (15yrs); you can recycle bottles to make something new (12 yrs); ideas for recycling crafts (42 yrs); all the stuff about bees (38 yrs). Inspired and encouraged by this excellent feed back and the turnout of newcomers, not to mention the amazing atmosphere, we have set out to create and even bigger and more exciting event this June.

Listening to suggestions from previous attendees, we are planning to put on more outdoor activities, have more dynamic music in the bandstand and all in all aim to achieve a really fun day out so Birmingham’s diverse communities can come together and be converted to a greener lifestyle.


This event is another step in reaching the unreached for sustainable living and includes the adaptation to climate change and economic factors that influence what we buy. The Energy Road Show from Carillion will be there recruiting people for Green Deal retrofits to their properties. A direct result of our partnership with the Botanical Gardens is they are now keen to be retro-fitted themselves and have a cottage which is perfect for a show case ‘Eco Home’ that we can advertise to the public. One of the ladies evaluated mentioned how much she liked the cottage and what a pity there was nothing green about it. This is a project we hope to address with Carillion in the coming year ahead.

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