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Monday 18 June 2012

Craftivists & Oxfam Grow Campaign Launch

A Jammy Deal
The tale starts with jam. Tomato jam. Yes that's jam not chutney! Fruity, reddish orangey jam which if you weren't told, could be mistaken as strawberry...or perhaps even orange marmalade without the peel. 
Sweet...like strawberries
There is nothing British about the recipe, it's Kenyan and it's a jam that a lady called Christine sells in Kenya, in order to survive, even though she's retired and should be putting her feet up. Instead she's constantly working in order to survive and look after children who've lost their parents to HIV and Aids. So why was her tomato jam recipe (which I can vouch for is utterly delicious!), being served up at Spitalfields City Farm on a Sunday afternoon? Because Christine and her jam is the inspiration behind a new campaign by Oxfam and the Craftivists Collective.
Craftivist volunteer
Grow is one of Oxfam's campaigns the aim of which is to ensure that everyone in the world has enough to eat...and to put an end to the fact that 1 in 7 people go to sleep hungry while elsewhere 80% of food is wasted...inequality as it's very worst. The Craftivists use craft as a form of activism to raise awareness of issues. Founder Sarah Corbett met Christine when she was in Kenya and was so touched by her tale that she looked for a way to share it. Now five years on, Craftivists have joined forced with Oxfam to get people to think about the world's food system and to consider the role small scale farmers can play in helping food production in developing countries. It's a complex issue and ambitious project but one that is essential.
Farm yard crafters
Over 50 people joined the launch of the campaign, held at Spitalfields City Farm on what was a very lovely sunny afternoon. The practical side of the campaign encourages people to make their own tomato jam using Christine's recipe and to give it to someone who is in a position to make a change such as MPs. Messages are hand-stitched onto the jam jar covers to get them to think and act.
Jar amnesty
So first up, all attendees took a jam jar which had been collected over the past few weeks.
Every jar came with lovely fabric
Inside each jar was everything a person needed to get started, fabric to stitch on, a band to hold it in place, a label and a needle.
Me reading up on the campaign
Before the afternoon got underway we were asked to read the leaflets about the campaign to get a better understanding of the issues.
This video is worth a watch to get a really good understanding of what I have been trying to explain (but they do it better!). It features Sarah from Craftivists talking about the campaign and how the jam and the stitching came together:
(Defo give this video a watch - if not now, bookmark it and watch when you can).
The craftivist crew
As a group we discussed what we thought of Christine's story which forces you to actually shape an opinion. Otherwise you can read something, find it interesting and forget about it. When you're asked to explain your reaction to what you've read you're more likely to take it seriously.
 Equally important therefore is what message you stitch on your jam jar lid and who you give it to. These were some of Craftivist's suggestions.
A finished jar should look something like this!
Amongst the participants were the Shoreditch Sisters branch of the Women's Institute...
Boys...(proving again that craft is for everyone)
Confident stitchers...
 And new comers to the stitch like Natalie from Ohdearism.
As well as jam, there was some live jammin' which added a fine soundtrack to the stitching.
A film crew were also there to record the campaign launch.
Craftivist Sarah invited lots of members of the craft community to take part so it was a fantastic opportunity to also meet some of the other crafty peeps I've encountered via twittersphere, such as Chloe from The Merry Bobbins, pictured here with Sarah.
And here's me with my finished jam! Now to sterilise the jar and fill it with homemade tomato jam. The message I stitched on mine was something that is very personal to me:
Live a simple life so others can simply life.
There is such an emphasis on 'excess' in our culture especially in the west: we're obsessed with having it all - the job, a house, car, social life, latest fashions and technologies and even the finest foods. While billions of people will never have any of the things I've just listed. It is very sad and I wish people would take that issue more seriously as a first step to eradicating this inequality. 
I've long admired Sarah and Craftivists and I learn't today that as much as I love crafting for pleasure, when you craft for a cause, it's much more satisfying.
The event was my second alfresco crafting activity in a month and my second crafting activity this year based on a city farm.
I couldn't therefore not mention my two fave things about this particular location. Such as it has an empty phonebox for the sheep to play in...
 And houses crime fighting pigs! Brilliant!

To find out more about Craftivists and their current campaign visit their website. You can get involved with the project where ever you are in the world.


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  2. Hello! Lovely post about Sunday. Sorry I didn't get to meet you, I would have been too busy trying to talk, stitch and chase my toddling daughter around!
    What a fab day though, and an ace write up.

  3. Also, am now following your blog on Bloglovin (hurrah for that, making Blogger and Wordpress readers one!)