The community/ sustainability programme at Mercato Metropolitano is in full swing!

The first of the children’s Saturday morning cookery classes launched in February. This 12-week programme, run by local community hero, Jason Brown, welcomes 10-12 children every week. So far, the children have enjoyed making cakes, pizza, jerk chicken and stir-fry to name but a few! As well as having great fun, our objectives for the classes are to give children skills in different types of food preparation and also to instil a love of cooking with and, eating dishes prepared from scratch.  The second programme will start on Sundays towards the end of May and will run for 5 weeks, with the focus being on wok-based cookery.

We also run free cookery classes for children during the school holidays. Groups of local children, attending holiday clubs, have enjoyed making pizza, Venezuelan Arepa and mushroom pasta dishes. The free community class, together with the master classes, supper clubs and corporate events means the cookery school is fast becoming the hub of Mercato!

Running in conjunction with the cookery classes, is our community gardening club, which runs on a Sunday between 12pm and 2pm in our garden. Local children and their parents have been planting herbs, salads, fruit and vegetables. To date we are growing strawberries, chard, broad beans, spring onions, apples, pears, rosemary, and thyme.  The children have really engaged in the process of planting and maintaining the produce in the wooden boxes around the site. As we get further into the growing and harvesting season, we hope to start an after school gardening club too. The children will be using the produce grown in the garden to prepare dishes in the cookery school, a true demonstration of “zero miles” in action!

We currently have two sustainable growing projects operating on the site.  Firstly, we (think) we have the only mushroom farm in central London! We take left over coffee waste from the site (and other coffee shops in the local area) and have been growing Oyster mushrooms from the waste. When working at full capacity, we think that we will be harvesting about 10kg of mushrooms per week. These mushrooms are being used by our vendors at MM to create delicious pasta, pizza and risotto dishes. We also run workshops for local children where we talk to them sustainable farming, them let them make up their own bag of the coffee waste to take home and grow mushrooms.  The children then prepare a simple pasta dish with the mushrooms. Although most of them arrived at the class, saying there was “no way” they would “ever eat mushrooms”, it was amazing how many tried the dish and liked it! They found it fascinating to be preparing a pasta dish, using vivid pink oyster mushrooms that had been grown in the heart of their community in Elephant and Castle!

Watch this space for a number of other events: We have been accepted as a participant for London Food Month and will be running a dads and daughters pizza making class on 11th June, as an early celebration of Fathers Day. We are also planning on holding a Family fun day and a Community sustainability day, where we will showcase the sustainable farming initiatives at MM.